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IHOP Bids for Applebee's: The End of an American Institution?

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There's news of an enormous, potentially game-changing corporate acquisition, the reverberations of which will be felt all across the country. We speak, of course, of the announcement that IHOP Corp. will buy the Applebee's chain for $2.1 billion. IHOP plans to convert the floundering Applebee's, one of the few company-owned national food chains, to the more popular franchise model. Though the deal appears to make immediate economic sense, we're naturally worried about the possible loss of Applebee's legendary culinary freedom. Will celebrity chef Tyler Florence, who had just unveiled his bruschetta burger and herb-crusted chicken breast for the fall menu, set to debut September 18, be allowed to continue his independent and aggressive experimentation under IHOP Corp.?