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Darden Restaurants, Inc.

Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Orlando-based Darden Restaurants is considered the world's largest casual dining restaurant company in terms of market share and annual sales. Restaurant entrepreneur Bill Darden, who opened the first Red Lobster restaurant in Lakeland in 1968, founded the company. Darden is considered one of the pioneers in the development of full-service chain restaurants in the United States.

Since its founding, it has grown to operate more than 1,700 restaurants in North America with about 170,000 employees. Darden was a subsidiary of General Mills from 1970 until 1995, when it was spun off as a separately held publicly traded company. The company's headquarters was moved to Orlando when it beca...
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Orlando-based Darden Restaurants is considered the world's largest casual dining restaurant company in terms of market share and annual sales. Restaurant entrepreneur Bill Darden, who opened the first Red Lobster restaurant in Lakeland in 1968, founded the company. Darden is considered one of the pioneers in the development of full-service chain restaurants in the United States.

Since its founding, it has grown to operate more than 1,700 restaurants in North America with about 170,000 employees. Darden was a subsidiary of General Mills from 1970 until 1995, when it was spun off as a separately held publicly traded company. The company's headquarters was moved to Orlando when it became a division of General Mills.

Darden is most closely associated with its two largest restaurant brands: Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Both of those chains now have more than 600 locations. The company's attempt to diversify its restaurant holdings has had mixed results. In 1995, Darden shut down an internally developed Chinese restaurant chain called China Coast. Since its spin-off, Darden has also created a barbecue and sports bar-themed restaurant group called Smokey Bones, a Caribbean-themed chain called Bahama Breeze, and a higher-end group of restaurants called Seasons 52. The company announced its intention to sell its Smokey Bones restaurants in May 2007, admitting that the brand did not have the potential to become a national chain. In August, Darden agreed to purchase Rare Hospitality International, which operates the LongHorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille restaurant chains, for an estimated value of $1.4 billion.

Clarence Otis, who took over the company from long-time chief Joe Lee in 2005, serves as chairman and chief executive officer. Darden posted $5.6 billion in annual sales in fiscal year 2007. Its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol DRI.
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  • Darden plans to create real-estate company, reports better sales

    Darden plans to create real-estate company, reports better sales
    Darden Restaurants will split its real-estate portfolio into a separate publicly traded company, it announced Tuesday along with improved fourth-quarter and annual earnings.
  • Olive Garden sales up as gas prices and discounts fall

    Olive Garden's quarterly sales rose 3.4 percent at established locations as customers spent more at the struggling Italian chain. Parent company Darden Restaurants is moving away from some of the heavy discounting Olive Garden had relied on in the past...

    Darden Restaurants to split off properties into REIT

    Darden Restaurants Inc. is planning to create a real estate investment trust that will function as its own publicly traded company. The owner of Olive Garden and other restaurants said Tuesday that it will transfer about 430 owned restaurant properties...

    Glass blowers fired up over new studio

    Glass blowers fired up over new studio
    David Sandidge and Brandon Price left behind the glass-blowing shop at Magic Kingdom, but they didn't leave behind the whimsy. Price and Sandidge are putting the final touches on their new studio and retail shop, International Hot Glass, at Artegon...

    Property appraiser sues Darden again

     Property appraiser sues Darden again
    For the second year in a row, Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh is suing Darden Restaurants over property values for equipment at the company's headquarters. In a lawsuit filed on Friday, Singh alleges that Darden got too much of a break on...