Ever since Applebee’s merged with IHOP last year, Shannon Johnson, the casual-dining chain’s director of culinary innovation and development, has been extremely busy. A media relations staffer at Applebee’s headquarters equated tracking Johnson down with “trying to put a finger on mercury.” But when Johnson stood still long enough to discuss his career with NRN via e-mail, he reported that, despite his hectic schedule during the transition to a new corporate parent, he still ...

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