Company Profile

Background Information & History:

Darden Restaurants, Inc., like many large companies, started with just one small, local business; in this case, The Green Frog, a luncheonette in Georgia owned and operated by Bill Darden (1919 – 1994). Mr. Darden was notable for his successful business practices, which included refusing to segregate his restaurant based on race, a bold choice for a local business located in the south (the balance).

In the late 60s, Darden opened his first Red Lobster (originally named Red Lobster Inn) and after some success was able to expand to three locations by the start of the 70s, which caught the eye of General Mills who later purchased budding chain and employed Bill Darden as their Vice President (1975). Under General Mills management, Red Lobster expanded into a nationwide chain along side their newer chain, Olive Garden (Wikipedia).

While Red Lobster and Olive Garden continued to grow, General Mills made the decision to create Darden Restaurant in 1995 as a more focused group, with a concentration on restaurant management and development. Throughout the next few decades, brands developed and continued to expand throughout the United States. In 2014, Darden sold Red Lobster to Golden Gate Capital (Wikipedia).

Current Company Information, Mission & Values:

Darden Restaurants, Inc., headquartered in Orlando, Florida, now boasts an impressive eight chains: The Capital Grille, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Bahama Breeze, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Seasons 52 and Yard House. Throughout their approximately 1,700 restaurants nationwide, Darden employs an estimated 175,000 people and serves nearly 380 million patrons.

Mission statement is “to be financially successful through great people consistently delivering outstanding food, drinks and service in an inviting atmosphere, making every guest loyal,” ( Darden’s values align with this mission statement by helping their employees to “learn, thrive and grow.” For a full list of Darden’s values, click here.

At the helm is President and CEO, Gene Lee. Before his run as President and CEO started in February 2015, Lee served Darden as President of Specialty Restaurant Group (SRG) and more recently COO. For a list of Darden’s executive leadership team, click here.

Darden is fully committed to their patrons, the environment, and their employees through their mantra: “People, Planet & Plate”. Their goal is “to provide [their] guests with nutritious, high-quality and responsibly sourced food; protect the natural environment; support and develop our employees; and give back to our communities,” (

Real Estate Information:

For information on Darden’s site selection visit our previous posts by clicking on the links below.