Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., Darden Restaurants is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company. Through subsidiaries, Darden owns and operates more than 1,825 restaurants across North America, employing approximately 180,000 employees and serving 400 million meals annually.
The company’s roots can be traced back to 1938 when 19-year-old Bill Darden opened a 25-seat luncheonette in Waycross, Ga., named The Green Frog. The success of his first restaurant, and several more, ultimately led Mr. Darden to open a mid-priced seafood restaurant called Red Lobster in Lakeland, Fla., in 1968. The restaurant was an instant hit, and caught the attention of General Mills in 1970. The Minneapolis-based packaged foods manufacturer bought the company and provided the resources to expand Red Lobster nationwide – helping to create a new segment of the restaurant industry called casual dining. In 1995, Darden was spun off from General Mills as an independent, Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DRI.”
Red Lobster – Company founder Bill Darden opened his first restaurant, The Green Frog, at age 19. Thirty years later, Bill brought his passion for seafood to Lakeland, Fla., where he debuted the first Red Lobster in 1968. Bill’s vision was to create a place where America could go for seafood for generations and where employees could fulfill their aspirations. As it grew into a national brand, Red Lobster introduced guests to fresh dishes such as popcorn shrimp, calamari, snow crab and lobster – often for the first time. Over the years, the brand’s passion for fresh, delicious seafood has kept Red Lobster evolving. The restaurant introduced an award-winning Today’s Fresh Fish Menu, installed wood-fire grills in every restaurant in North America, trained staff to become seafood experts and most recently launched a new restaurant design, inspired by the New England coast. Olive Garden – Olive...