HARTFORD, CT–The site of a complex, ever-shifting web of alliances among servers, line cooks, hostesses, dishwashers, and managers, the Sheridan Avenue Applebee's is a hotbed of Machiavellian political maneuvering, sources reported Monday.

Byzantine machinations churn just out of view of restaurant patrons at this area Applebee's.

"A manager here should employ the strength of a lion and the cunning of a fox," night manager Roy Mergens said. "For example, I have curried the favor of the waitstaff by giving them 15-cent raises, simply by eliminating Jorge, the second dishwasher. This will not make me any friends in the kitchen, but it is far more important to keep the front-of-the-house staff happy."

Added Mergens: "A successful manager is above morality, for the success of the Applebee's franchise is the supreme objective."

Mergens said he hopes that his cost-saving measures will earn him a recommendation for advancement to the executive-manager position at the soon-to-open Pflaum Road Applebee's.

"Prudence consists in knowing how to distinguish degrees of disadvantage and in accepting a lesser evil as a good," assistant manager Cindy Baggett said. "To wit: If I remain quiet about Roy's padding of his time card and his claiming credit for my Kahlua Mudslide collector's-mug idea, I am a shoo-in for his position when he leaves."

Baggett and Mergens are just two of 43 employees who take part in the swirling, Byzantine machinations that is life at Applebee's. Every day, hundreds of acts of devious strategizing take place behind the restaurant's placid, service-with-a-smile façade.

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"The visitor to the Sheridan Avenue Applebee's is none the wiser," server Liz Schonert said. "Sipping on their jumbo margaritas and munching on mozzarella sticks, they know nothing of the clandestine pacts that enable some to leave early on slow nights, others to overextend their free-meal benefits, and still others to steal from the walk-in cooler."

These alliances, Schonert said, also determine which forms of scheming, intrigue, and fraud go unreported.

"I have set up a mutually beneficial arrangement between the waitstaff and the bartender, wherein he does not tally a certain percentage of our drinks, and we share our table tips with him," lead server Jenna Gordon said. "We have taken great pains, however, to keep the scheme hidden from the hosting staff. In order to remain strong, we must do all that we can to escape the hatred of those who are stronger."

One of the most bitter intra-Applebee's rivalries is the one between the kitchen staff and the front-of-house staff.

"The hateful servers receive all the tips, yet still they castigate us over one missing buffalo-wings platter," line cook Karl Krug said. "But on the surface, I am still extremely pleasant to them, so that I do not lose my kitchen-manager position. The use of craft and deceit is acceptable to maintain authority and carry out the policies of a ruler. And my most important policy is that I don't work weekends and don't clean the grease trap."

But for all the intricate dealings, even the most powerful members of the Sheridan Avenue Applebee's crew must kneel before the ultimate authority of regional manager Bob Hundhausen.

"I keep the 22 Applebee's in my district under my thumb by periodically dropping in unannounced during dinner rush," Hundhausen said. "It is best for a leader to be both feared and loved. But since this usually cannot be done, it is safer to be feared."