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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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  • Investors hungry for Darden stock

    Investors hungry for Darden stock
    Wall Street investors are liking what they see from Darden Restaurants these days – so much so that they've driven up the company stock in recent months.
  • Darden's Orlando HQ on the market

    Darden's Orlando HQ on the market
    Darden Restaurants plans to sell its 6-year-old, $152 million corporate headquarters in Orlando and lease back the building in a long-term deal. Darden has hired a real estate broker to market the 465,000-square-foot Restaurant Support Center campus...

    Darden serves up better profits, restaurant sales

    Darden serves up better profits, restaurant sales
    Darden's turnaround under new leadership appears to be taking hold as restaurant sales were up during the past three months, even at struggling flagship Olive Garden. CEO Gene Lee said Friday that profits and sales were up at all seven restaurant...

    Darden 3Q adj. profit tops Street; boosts 2015 outlook

    Darden Restaurants' fiscal third-quarter earnings climbed on improving sales at Olive Garden and its other chain restaurants. The company's adjusted profit beat analysts' estimates. Darden also boosted its full-year adjusted earnings forecast. The...

    Olive Garden gets boost from diners splurging on extras

    Olive Garden is weaning diners off two-for-$25 dinners and luring them to splurge a bit on extras like drinks and desserts. Those add-ons, a sign that customers might be more willing to open their wallets, helped push sales up for a restaurant chain that...