Chain restaurants have humble, humorous origins

Applebee's is the world's largest dining chain. We're so familiar with it we've stopped thinking about it, never asking ourselves: Where did it come from, anyway? And how did it almost end up being named Cinnamon's?

Mental Floss has published a fun roundup of the origins of 11 familiar chain restaurants, from Cracker Barrel to Cheesecake Factory to California Pizza Kitchen.

My favorite origin story is T.G.I Friday's and the notion that founder Alan Stillman opened the first one, at First Avenue and 63rd Street in New York City in 1965, in part so he might meet more airline stewardesses. His timing was fortuitous, Stillman told the New City Reader, as that was the same year the birth control pill was invented. "I happened to hit the sexual revolution on the head, and the result was that, without really intending it, I became the founder of the first singles bar." The combination of red-and-white striped awnings, Tiffany lamps, and sawdust on the floor somehow managed to lure the ladies, and the original restaurant reportedly made $1 million in revenues the first year.

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