outside of an Applebee's restaurant

An ‘Atrocious’ Email Caused a Mass Resignation at a Kansas Applebee’s

With a global recession in the midst, many are feeling financial strain. Food prices are high and gas prices are through the roof. It’s something that makes having a job that much more important, which can cause some people to take advantage. An email was leaked from Applebee’s franchise group executive Wayne Pankratz that shocked its employees. In it, he claimed that higher food and gas prices will make people desperate for work, which would mean they could be hired at lower wages. Needless to say, he’s now out of the job.

Applebee’s Employees were Enraged by an Email from Executives

According to Wayne Pankratz’s now-deleted Linkedin profile, he is (or was) the executive director of operations of American Franchise Capital (AFC Brands), which owns several  Applebee’s and Taco Bell franchises in the US.

Pankratz’s March 9th email read as follows. “Most of our employee base and potential employee base live paycheck to paycheck. Any increase in gas prices cuts into their disposable income. As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up, that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living. The labor market is about to turn in our favor.”

One of the first to read the email was Jake Holcomb, a manager at an Applebee’s in Lawrence, Kansas. Needless to say, he was so furious he quit his job on the spot. Holcomb didn’t leave immediately to make sure to let everyone know. He first printed about twelve copies of this email and then showed the rest of the employees who were just as enraged. Holcomb stuck the copies all around the restaurant for the customers to read as well. He added a final touch by not making the customers who were currently in the restaurant pay. He told VICE News. “I gave everyone in the restaurant their food for free. We didn’t even close the store.” 

Read: Server gets $2k tip, but restaurant says it can’t process a tip that big

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Holcomb Inspired More Applebee’s Employee Resignations

Since the email was leaked, many more resignations rolled in. One resignation is enough to grab some attention, but in this case, four other managers of the franchise quit, and about ten other workers joined them. They could not stand to work for a company that would let their greed take over. They ranted to VICE News that they have been working long hours than what is considered humane, and their salaries do not reflect those long hours. Not only that but they were reportedly mistreated by the company.

Jenna Willis is 23 years old and is one of the other managers of the same branch that decided to up and quit. She also had a lot to express about her outrage, and she shared it with VICE News. Jenna said, “Oh my gosh, I was so mad, I let the staff that showed up to open that morning read it, and they were livid. So I told them if we wanted to make money, we would open, but I didn’t really feel like we should at that point.” 

After she quit, the restaurant actually shut down for a few hours. The workers were on board with the revolt. “How can we continue to work for a company that doesn’t care about us?” Willis complained.

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Adrian Kelly was yet another manager who quit their job. He was the bartender for the Applebee’s branch in Lawrence, and he had this to say,

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“This was kind of a straw that broke the camel’s back situation where everyone was feeling unappreciated [and] we were understaffed. And then this email was so atrocious that it kind of just tipped everyone over the edge.”

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Pankratz Fired

Vice News had the confirmation on that the writer of the email, Wayne Pankratz, was fired from his position as an executive. His email was described as “embarrassing” by a spokesperson of the company. Reportedly, he did not have the power to make such decisions on behalf of the company. The spokesperson, Fischer, made a statement to VICE News that Pankratz, “doesn’t have the authority to create policy for our company for the brand or anything.” However, both Willis and Holcomb beg to differ. They say that the company is not being upfront about the power that Pankratz truly had.

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Sources

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  1. An ‘Atrocious’ Email Caused a Mass Resignation at a Kansas Applebee’s.Business Insider. Paul Blest. March 29, 2022.
  2. An Applebee’s franchise group fired an executive who said higher gas prices and inflation mean stores can pay less because people are desperate for any money to make ends meet.Vice. Sarah Jackson. March 29, 2022.
Jade Small
Freelance Writer
Jade is a freelance writer and content creator from South Africa with over 7 years experience writing and creating. She's also a proud single mom to a super 13 year old boy.
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