John Cywinski, Applebee's
John Cywinski has been named president of Applebee’s restaurants.

GLENDALE, CALIF. — DineEquity, Inc., parent company of Applebee's and IHOP, announced that John Cywinski has been appointed president of Applebee’s restaurants, effective immediately. Mr. Cywinski had a previous stint working at Applebee’s from 2001 to 2006 as the chief marketing officer.

“We are pleased that John is rejoining the Applebee's team, this time as brand president," said Richard J. Dahl, chairman and interim chief executive officer for DineEquity. "John is a highly regarded industry veteran with more than 25 years of leadership experience, including leading quick-service and casual dining brands.”

Mr. Cywinski most recently served as executive vice-president of strategic innovation and marketing at Brinker International, parent company of Chili’s and Maggiano’s. Prior to joining Brinker, Mr. Cywinski worked at Yum! Brands as president of KFC’s U.S. business from 2010 to 2014. In addition, he was a franchise owner of Dunkin’ Donuts and Sonic restaurants in Chicago. Before that, Mr. Cywinski was vice-president of U.S. brand strategy for McDonald’s Corp., president of Buena Vista Pictures Marketing for The Walt Disney Co., and he led U.S. marketing for Burger King.

“Through his previous work with KFC and Applebee's, John has proven his ability to work with franchisees to revitalize a brand, and we couldn't imagine a better fit to lead Applebee's turnaround,” Mr. Dahl said.

Julia Stewart, DineEquity
Julia Stewart, c.e.o. of DineEquity and interim president of Applebee’s, resigned March 1.

DineEquity announced its turnaround plan for Applebee’s in May 2016 when the company added wood-fired grills in nearly 2,000 restaurants in the United States. However, the chain has continued to struggle. On March 1, Julia Stewart, c.e.o. of DineEquity and interim president of Applebee’s, resigned.

"I'm thrilled to be back at Applebee's, where I was previously part of a terrific senior team and franchise community that led the transformation of the company," Mr. Cywinski said. "This is a very meaningful homecoming for me, and I'm looking forward to partnering with Applebee's franchisees as well as the Applebee's and DineEquity teams to unlock the growth within this great brand. I am both proud and humbled to have this opportunity, and I'm committed to working tirelessly with all partners to reestablish Applebee's excellence and leadership in the category."