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The 1,139-unit Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI), coming off a robust operations year, is acquiring the assets of King Henry’s Feast, a shuttered diner attraction in Orlando’s tourist corridor near Walt Disney World, industry sources familiar with the deal tell GlobeSt.com.

Rick Walsh, Darden’s senior vice president of corporate relations, confirms the speculation. “We do have the property under contract and we’ll be closing soon,” Walsh tells GlobeSt.com. The price won’t be disclosed until the deal is done.Darden hasn’t announced whether it will convert King Henry’s to a seafood or barbecue/steak house or will be stepping onto new turf by trying its hand as a themed restaurant operator.

On Stage Entertainment Inc., a Las Vegas-based entertainment operator, placed King Henry’s and another attraction, Wild Bill’s, on the selling block in the second quarter after the assets had rolled up three consecutive years of bottom-line bleeding. In its overall operations, On Stage Entertainment lost $8.2 million in the first quarter ended March 31, 2000.

Both properties are 14 years old and had a combined payroll of 234 employees. King Henry’s and Wild Bill’s in north Osceola County are about 10 miles from Walt Disney World and 20 miles from Downtown Orlando.

In its fiscal year ended May 28, Darden reported record earnings per diluted share of $1.31, up 36%, for fiscal 2000 ended May 28, on earnings after tax of $173.1 million, excluding unusual fourth-quarter, non-operating gains this fiscal year and last year.

Darden owns 1,139 restaurants in the United States and Canada. The organization bills itself as the world’s largest casual dining restaurant operation. In Orlando, the chain’s portfolio comprises Red Lobster, Olive Gardens, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones BBQ & Sports Bar restaurants with combined annual sales of $3.7 billion.

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