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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 67-77
  • Hurricane Irene brings earnings dip, Darden says

    Hurricane Irene brings earnings dip, Darden says
    Orlando-based Darden Restaurants said Tuesday that Hurricane Irene will hurt its first-quarter earnings slightly. The owner of Olive Garden, Red Lobster and other chains said the storm, which forced some restaurants across the Eastern U.S. to close, will...
  • Analysts weigh in on Darden earnings

    Analysts weigh in on Darden earnings
    Analysts found Orlando-based Darden Restaurants' expected first-quarter earnings surprisingly low, but they still had generally positive views of the company's performance. Darden said last week it expects earnings per share of 78 cents. Several analysts...
  • First lady announces restaurant chain's plan to cut calories, sodium

    — First Lady Michelle Obama applauded the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster Thursday for pledging to cut calories and sodium at its restaurants over the next 10 years. Speaking at the Olive Garden, a restaurant known for its all-you-...
  • Healthy fork in the road

    Healthy fork in the road
    As consumers increasingly ask for healthier fare, the company that operates Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants said Thursday that it will cut salt and calories across its menus by 10 percent over the next five years and 20 percent over the next...
  • Darden rents from itself and saves on taxes

    Darden rents from itself and saves on taxes
    Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has cut its corporate taxes in some states by renting restaurants from itself, using a strategy that has led to challenges and millions of dollars in back taxes for some other big companies. The owner of chains...
  • 2007 Most Powerful People in Central Florida

    As we have worked our way up the year's list of "The 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida," we passed CEOs, philanthropists, political players and rising stars. But now we've reached the top and find five people who have control over the roads on...
  • 2006 Most Powerful People in Central Florida

    Who makes things happen here in Central Florida? Today, Taking Names columnist Scott Maxwell concludes the list of the 25 most powerful people. We are down to five -- three politicians, the head of the region's largest work force and the leader of one of...
  • SunRail's fate will say a lot

    Win or lose, SunRail is more than a pivotal point for the future of transportation in Central Florida; it's a test of the collective muscle of the region's most influential companies. Walt Disney World, Darden Restaurants, Orlando Health, Florida...
  • Appetite for condo eateries has vanished

    The restaurant industry is rough enough. It's even rougher when your primary business is real estate during a monster recession. Steve Kodsi found out the hard way last week when he closed two restaurants he operated in the bottom of one of his...
  • Darden Restaurants chief Clarence Otis sticks to pursuit of success

    Nearly a year before assuming the helm at Darden Restaurants in 2004, Clarence Otis met with Chief Executive Officer Joe Lee to plot the future. Together, in a series of meetings, Otis, Lee and another key leader, Drew Madsen, set goals for Orlando's...
  • The 25 most important people in Central Florida: 6-15

    On Tuesday, we started counting down The 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida by unveiling 10 people, including two who are shaking up the establishment, a couple of media mavens and several behind-the-scenes political players and fundraisers....