Why A Leaked Memo Scandal Is Leading To An Applebee's Boycott

Correction 3/30/22: An earlier version of this story stated that Wayne Pankratz was an Applebee's employee. Pankratz was an employee at a Midwest-based franchise company that owns dozens of Applebee's locations.

The cost of fuel and food have strong ties. In 2021, supply chain issues caused the price of gas and foodstuffs to skyrocket, and many families felt this economic crunch, per NBC News. Rising gas costs have also affected the price of food in other countries. According to CP24, mounting diesel costs in Canada have influenced food prices, potentially by up to 35%. This inflation spells disasters for many, but one particular company has seemingly celebrated the skyrocketing cost of oil.

Forbes reports that Wayne Pankratz of American Franchise Capital sent out an email to a number of high-ranking colleagues in the company that spelled out how rising inflation, higher gas prices, and the end of bolstered unemployment benefits gives the Midwestern division of the company leverage when dealing with the restaurant chain's employees. Pankratz linked these factors to justify lower wages for the company's staff. 

"Stimulus money is no more, supplemental unemployment is no more," Pankratz wrote in the email, via Fortune. "This benefits us as prices rise, people who were relying on unemployment money, simply will have less money to spend. It will force people back into the workforce." If these sentiments didn't appear insidious enough, the memo only gets worse and has sparked a massive pushback against Applebee's.

The memo has garnered a significant amount of pushback

Anyone who might give Wayne Pankratz the benefit of the doubt should have no sympathy after examining the full email. "Most of our employee base and potential employee base live paycheck to paycheck," Pankratz wrote, according to Forbes. "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." He went on to explain how economic conditions have allowed Applebee's to outlast mom-and-pop competitor restaurants and how the chain can take advantage of the workforce displaced as a result of government assistance measures ending.

The leaked memo has sparked a major backlash. On Twitter, the hashtag #boycottapplebees has started trending, and has elicited responses from upset users ranging from, "What a f****** scumbag!" all the way to, "#BoycottApplebees will be the easiest boycott in the history of time."

CBS News reports that some Applbee's managers and employees have already quit, and Apple Central, LLC has since fired Pankratz. The restaurant chain has quickly taken measures to ensure customers that Pankratz's memo expressed personal opinions, not the official viewpoint of the company. Either way, the damage has been done, and Applebee's may have to do some serious damage control in order to get customers back.