The former Applebee's executive has been named director of culinary innovation
Shannon Johnson, the former vice president of culinary and menu strategy for Applebee’s, has been named director of culinary innovation at McDonald's USA.
Johnson joins the quick-service chain's culinary team, led by executiveDan Coudreaut, after stepping down from his role as vice president of culinary and menu strategy at Applebee’s in March.
McDonald's confirmed that Johnson had joined the company but did not respond to further queries about the position.
Johnson has been credited with overhauling Applebee's menu after DineEquity acquired the casual-dining chain in late 2007. He had been with Applebee's since 2003.
Among Johnson’s more successful menu rollouts at Applebee’s was the Realburgers line of premium hamburgers, launched in 2009. The line was extended in 2010 to include burgers with regional flavors, called Realburgers from Across America.
Johnson also oversaw the introduction of Applebee’s Weight Watchers line of dishes, designed to fit the weight-loss program’s dieting system.
McDonald’s, meanwhile, launched an improved burger, the Angus Third Pounder, in 2009. Since then it has launched better-for-you items, including a reworked grilled, salads and oatmeal.
McDonald’s management recently credited limited-time menu offerings for helping drive same-store sales growth in April. And during a recent analyst tour of the McDonald's Innovation Center, executives revealed that the company has a record number of plans for new products.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s operates or franchises more than 33,000 restaurants worldwide, including more than 14,000 locations in the United States.