ORLANDO-Taking on more debt when the cash registers are ringing is only good business to Darden Restaurants Inc. The publicly-traded company is adding 36 new restaurants to its 1,139-unit chain over the next 12 months and remodeling another 153 locations. Darden is also scouting to buy another chain to add to its four-restaurant corral.

The Orlando-based firm plans to grow its 653-unit Red Lobster division by eight restaurants. The 469-unit Olive Garden group gets another 15 locations. Bahama Breeze, a 14-restaurant section, will be increased by 12 units. And the three-unit Smokey Bones BBQ property will add another restaurant.

On the renovation side, 120 Olive Gardens and 33 Red Lobsters will be redone.

Darden chairman/CEO Joe R. Lee justifies the expansion plans by noting the public’s appetite for dining out continues to widen even among speculation of a slowing economy. Lee spoke at the company’s annual meeting at the Renaissance Resort at SeaWorld.

Darden reported first-quarter profit of $56.9 million on sales of $1.02 billion, up from $47.3 million in net earnings on $929.4 million in sales for first quarter 1999. News of the firm’s record earnings jumped its stock on the New York Stock Exchange by 7.2% to $18.56, still below its 52-week high of $20.63.Besides it first-quarter profit, the company also has a total $500 million available for expansion–$150 million from the bond market and a $350 million shelf registration.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Dig Deeper


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.