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October 18, 2022

Applebee’s Hometown Hero program recognizes restaurant Team Members throughout the United States who go above and beyond to be a good neighbor. Alvarez recognized for decades-long efforts to provide exceptional foster care to children in need

Applebee’s® franchisee Doherty Enterprises, Inc. announced today that Lisa Alvarez, a server at its Punta Gorda, Fla. restaurant location, has been recognized as the Applebee’s Hometown Hero of the Year.

Alvarez is being recognized for her decades-long work fostering children in need. To date, she and her husband Jorge have fostered more than 120 children of all ages and abilities. To expand her fostering capabilities, Alvarez successfully trained to become medically certified to care for babies and children with health issues.

Established in 2019, Applebee’s Hometown Hero program recognizes restaurant Team Members throughout the United States who exemplify exceptional service as a good neighbor, teammate, and friend – even when faced with adversity. They go above and beyond to provide selfless service to the community. By making a positive impact on those around them, Hometown Heroes improve the neighborhood and the culture in their restaurant.

“We are so proud of Lisa, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that her efforts from the heart have been recognized by receiving Applebee’s top honor,” said Kurt Pahlitzsch, VP of Operations at Doherty Enterprises. “Lisa shows all of us what it means to follow one’s passion and make our neighborhoods a better place to live.”

Lisa Alvarez was nominated to the Applebee’s Hometown Hero program by her adopted daughter, Natalia, who has recently begun working with her mom at the Punta Gorda, Fla. Applebee’s location.  The win came as a complete surprise.

“It’s a true honor to be recognized for providing a loving home to these children,” said Lisa Alvarez. “But the honor really should go to these exceptional children. People think it’s all about what I give to them, but when you think about it, it’s truly a case of what they give back to me. They’re just incredible, each and everyone.”

As Applebee’s Hometown Hero of the Year, Alvarez was recently presented with an award at the Applebee’s Franchise Conference in Beaver Creek, Colo. where she received a standing ovation from hundreds of Applebee’s operators from throughout the United States. She also had a special party held in her honor at the Punta Gorda restaurant prior to Hurricane Ian.

About Applebee’s®

As one of the world’s largest casual dining brands, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar serves as America’s kitchen table, offering guests a lively dining experience that combines simple, craveable American fare with classic drinks and local drafts. Applebee’s makes it easy for family and friends to connect with one another, whether it’s in a dining room or in the comfort of a living room, Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood™ is a familiar and affordable escape from the everyday. Applebee’s restaurants are owned and operated by entrepreneurs dedicated to more than serving great food, but also building up the communities that we call home. From raising money for local charities to hosting community fundraisers, Applebee’s is always Doin’ Good in the Neighborhood®. Applebee’s franchise and company-operated operations consisted of 1,673 Applebee’s restaurants in the United States, two U.S. territories and 11 countries outside the United States as of August 9, 2022. This number does not include two domestic Applebee’s ghost kitchens (small kitchens with no store-front presence, used to fill off-premise orders) and eight Applebee’s international ghost kitchens. Applebee’s is franchised by subsidiaries of Dine Brands Global Inc. [NYSE: DIN], which is one of the world’s largest full-service restaurant companies.

About Doherty Enterprises, Inc.

Established in 1985, Doherty Enterprises owns and operates more than 130 restaurants in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Georgia, including five restaurant concepts: Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Panera Bread, Chevys Fresh Mex and its own concepts, The Shannon Rose Irish Pub and Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas. In addition, Doherty Enterprises is also a franchisee of Sola Salon Studios with 8 locations in Staten Island and New Jersey. Doherty Enterprises is ranked 11th in Top 200 Franchisees in the United States by Restaurant Finance Monitor, is recognized as the 77th largest Foodservice revenue company in the United States by Nation’s Restaurant News, the 73rd largest privately held business in the New York Metro area by Crain’s Business, and 34th largest privately held company in New Jersey by NJBIZ. The Doherty vision is to be the “Best Food Service Company in the Communities We Serve” and its mission is to “Wow Every Guest Every Time, Wow our People, Wow Our Communities and Wow Our Suppliers.” Doherty Enterprises has also been lending a helping hand to team members and their immediate families when financially burdened through the WOW a Friend Foundation. To date, the foundation has assisted more than 3,100 people and donated over $4.1 million directly back to those in need. (

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