DineEquity was created from a foundation established by IHOP® - an American icon to our guests and a franchising company focused on providing strategic, visionary leadership for our franchisees, unparalleled opportunities for our team members, and enhancing value for our shareholders. By bringing Applebee's® together with IHOP in November 2007, we made a bold, new commitment to our brand-revitalization abilities and to the power of franchising. DineEquity has successfully made our two businesses more powerful and more successful than either brand could have been apart. Our dedicated focus combined with a core expertise in brand revitalization and franchising know-how is the basis for the winning formula that has defined the financial success of our business in recent years. As reported by Nation's Restaurant News, Applebee's and IHOP are the category leaders in casual and family dining.
With more than 3,700 Applebee's and IHOP restaurants in 18 countries and a 99%-franchised system of more than 400 franchisee partners, DineEquity is one of the largest full-service restaurant companies in the world.
With more than 2,000 restaurants in 50 states, Puerto Rico and 15 other countries around the world, Applebee's is one of the world's largest Casual Dining brands. Founded in 1980 in Atlanta, Georgia by Bill and T.J. Palmer, Applebee's offers classic bar-and-grill menu items featuring higher-quality ingredients and premium preparation techniques, reasonable prices, and quality service in a neighborhood setting. Today, we are building upon this heritage and further differentiating Applebee's to maintain the brand's position at the top of the Casual Dining segment. We expect to generate sustainable same-restaurant-sales momentum for the Applebee's brand by significantly increasing the effectiveness of Applebee's marketing efforts, making meaningful improvements to the operational performance of our restaurants, and continuously introducing fresh, innovative dishes for our guests to enjoy.
When Al and Jerry Lapin opened the first International House of Pancakes in Toluca Lake, California on July 7, 1958, they never dreamed that five decades later the family restaurant they founded would become the American icon it is today. From humble beginnings, we have grown to become the leading Family Dining brand with 1,709 IHOP restaurants in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and Saipan. Internationally, IHOP has locations in Bahrain, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Guatemala, Kuwait, Mexico, The Philippines, Qatar, Panama and Saudi Arabia. Today, IHOP is the place where people connect over breakfast, enjoy study breaks, grab a bite before or after sporting events, and so much more. And no matter what menu items they order, there's one ingredient that's always constant—a smile. And as the leader in Family Dining, our 99%-franchised system delivers strong free cash flow results that have been the hallmark of the brand's financial performance for more than half a century.