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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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Top Darden Restaurants, Inc. Articles

Displaying items 12-22
  • Revenge of the breadsticks? Darden strikes back

    Revenge of the breadsticks? Darden strikes back
    Darden Restaurants made a formal response Monday to investor criticisms of its Olive Garden chain. The investor, Starboard Value hedge fund, on Friday released a 294-page plan that criticized waste, overspending and Darden employment policies. The...
  • 4 good business stories: Real estate, layoffs, Disney, Darden

    4 good business stories: Real estate, layoffs, Disney, Darden
    Today is one of those days when the Sentinel is chock full of excellent business journalism from my colleagues. Leading off is Mary Shanklin’s front page update on numbers and the story behind international buyers dropping cash on Central...
  • Inside Darden annual meeting: 'A coronation'

    Inside Darden annual meeting: 'A coronation'
    Darden Restaurants shareholder vote on Friday morning for a totally new board of directors offered a case study in a tightly controlled corporate annual meeting. Most of the insiders – meaning the outgoing and incoming board members –...
  • Activist investor wins control of Darden board

    Activist investor wins control of Darden board
    Every member of Darden Restaurants' board of directors was replaced Friday in a move that could have a far-reaching impact on the company — from how many breadsticks are served at Olive Garden to who owns the land on which the restaurants sit. At...
  • Darden showdown with activist investors comes Friday

    Darden showdown with activist investors comes Friday
    The yearlong battle with activist investors for control of Darden Restaurants is heading toward a dramatic collision at the company's annual shareholder meeting Friday in Orlando. Shareholder activist Starboard Value will hold a vote to overthrow Darden'...
  • Darden CEO will leave with $36 million

    Darden CEO will leave with $36 million
    Darden CEO Clarence Otis will get nearly $36 million in cash, stocks and other benefits when he leaves the embattled restaurant chain later this year. His compensation and pay for two other top executives ousted in the past year will total about $68.4...
  • Darden sales improve ahead of proxy showdown

     Darden sales improve ahead of proxy showdown
    Same restaurant sales at Darden's flagship chain Olive Garden rose 0.6 percent in September compared with the last year, giving the company positive news as it heads into a crucial shareholder meeting next week. In a rare move, Darden Restaurants Inc. on...
  • Breadsticks, Mallard Fillmore, and King: Letters

    Breadstick war heats up Bullying comes in many forms, and as we follow the Darden Restaurants-Starboard Value conflict, it would appear Starboard Value hedge fund is trying to bully Darden into changing how it runs its business. Olive Garden has...
  • Activist investors: Hands off America's piles of free carbs!

    I joke around quite a bit in this space, but today I address the greatest threat America is facing: a reduction in the number of free breadsticks served at Olive Garden restaurants. A group of "activist investors" -- the worst kind of investors in my...
  • Shareholder group sues Darden over Red Lobster sale

     Shareholder group sues Darden over Red Lobster sale
    Darden Restaurants is facing a second lawsuit from a Teamsters shareholder group in Connecticut over the controversial sale of Red Lobster in July. The new suit, filed on behalf of Teamsters Local 443 Health Services and Insurance Plan in Connecticut,...
  • First Chicago Olive Garden opening next week

    First Chicago Olive Garden opening next week
    Olive Garden will open its first restaurant in Chicago later this month, featuring its new logo and remodel design — and, of course, free salad and breadsticks. The 7,780-square-foot restaurant at 3555 West Addison St., the first in the Chicago...