Any franchise restaurant is going to be a difficult process in getting the gig. I've been with TGI Friday's for nearly a year now but it actually took a year to get the gig. I've dealt with Applebees before and they gave me the run-around. But persistence pays off. It probably won't come fast.
I've been in the works with Applebees for nearly a month now. Supposedly they have turned me over to the Marketing Rep for all the locations in our area (there are five or six) and she should be contacting me. What did Applebees do with you? It is beginning to get very frustrating.
Make sure not to put all your eggs in one basket. Focusing on 1 opportunity and failing eventually can bring on undue stress. Expand more. Is there a HAM's in your area? They are VERY kid centered.
Keep looking and good luck.