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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 89-99
  • Darden’s donations spotlighted by Chelsea Clinton, ‘Rock Center’

     
    "Chelsea Clinton was in town three weeks ago to report on our Darden Harvest program -- we donate surplus food from each of our 1,900-plus restaurants to local food banks on a weekly basis -- and the impact it has on local communities across the country,"...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Florida Blood Centers board members know no term limits

    Leighton Yates joined the board of directors at Metro Orlando's major blood bank in 1975, when Gerald Ford was president and the movie Jaws was scaring people out of the water. Yates is still with Florida's Blood Centers and, as an attorney, his firm...
  • Businesses open wallets for 2010 political races

    We're still more than a year out from next year's race for governor and other key down ballot races — such as that of House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon of Winter Park — but the region's deep corporate pockets are already putting their...
  • Ex-Darden exec has plans for Romano's

    Brad Blum is in the midst of trying to turn around a struggling Italian chain by tapping into Americans' penchant for the freshness and simplicity of authentic recipes. Sound familiar? It should. Blum made a name for himself at Darden Restaurants, where...
  • Restaurants stepping up

    Restaurants stepping up
    How do restaurants traditionally known for cheese-smothered pastas, buttery breadsticks and fried seafood platters convince diners they've got healthier fare that's worth giving a try? That's the challenge faced by large restaurant chains that include...
  • Trying to outrun the food police

    There was the assault on trans-fats. A new law requiring calorie counts on menus. A county in California that banned toys in too-fatty kids' meals. And now there's a war on sodium. It's no wonder the food industry is hurrying to outrun the increasingly...
  • Talking With ... Ian Baines: Firing up Smokey Bones

    Talking With ... Ian Baines: Firing up Smokey Bones
    Ian Baines is president and CEO of Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill. The chain broke off from Darden Restaurants a year and a half ago and has been remaking its image. Baines, 52, talked with Sentinel staff writer Sandra Pedicini. CFB: Tell me a little...
  • Darden, Disney bank on big spenders

    Darden Restaurants is coming up with new ways to cater to its richest clientele by keeping detailed notes on its top 10,000 customers' food and wine preferences at Capital Grille. Walt Disney Co. is forging ahead with plans to build lavish vacation homes...
  • Red Lobster Tests Menu Allergy Info

    Red Lobster Tests Menu Allergy Info
    Red Lobster has started to give some diners with allergies more information about what potential dangers could lurk in their food. The chain, owned by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, has begun testing a menu that lists major allergens such as dairy...