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Darden – Why Work For Us?

Today, more than 150,000 people are working together to make Darden a global leader in hospitality. Through subsidiaries, we own and operate more than 1,500 restaurants and serve more than 320 million meals a year that create many lasting memories for our guests.

That last number reveals something telling about how we do business. In serving that many meals, we’ve come to know our guests extremely well. From them, we’ve realized what it takes to create an environment of natural hospitality and to build enduring brands. It’s why we’re able to make our guests feel so welcome, special and at ease.

Along the way, we’ve come to understand the restaurant business as well as anyone – if not better. We recognize that scale enables continued growth. Our scale allows us to have the best systems in the industry. We use them not simply to automate our restaurants for greater consistency, accuracy and efficiency, but to give our people time to make the human touch an even larger part of dining with us.

At Darden, strong values are just as important as business acumen and operational skills, and we have a solid track record of doing what’s right. Our employees give us more than 150,000 reasons to create a great place to work and to teach enduring life-skills. For our employees, doing what’s right means building talent and providing them opportunities to achieve their personal and professional dreams. It’s having the opportunity to do meaningful work at the highest level of quality. And outside the walls of our restaurants, it means serving our communities and doing our part to sustain the earth’s natural resources. Because at Darden, what you do matters.

Across every one of our unique brands and in every role, we’re creating a company that matters. We have ambitious plans and we’re confident that even better days lie ahead for Darden, not only as an industry leader but as a leader in business overall.

At Darden, we're committed to building and maintaining a strong, people-focused culture. Our 40-plus years of success have come largely as a result of our employees, who create great dining experiences for our guests. That is why we work so hard to provide a nurturing and sustaining environment for our 150,000 employees.

We understand that in order to encourage superior performance from our employees, we must create and maintain a compelling place to work – a place where people can grow and learn enduring life skills. Our goal is to make working at Darden more than just a job, but a place where people can realize their personal and professional dreams.  In 2011, Darden was the first restaurant company ever named to the FORTUNE Magazine "100 Best Companies to Work For” list.

Developing our people is a cornerstone of our business model. We are constantly striving to foster a team of exceptional leaders at all levels of our company, so we can create a positive workplace for all of our employees. Our company’s vibrant culture impacts everything we do, from how we treat our employees and what we value, to how we recognize and reward a job well done.

We believe our strong corporate values and culture help our employees learn, thrive and grow. In fact, we believe our vibrant culture gives our company a competitive advantage. Our core values have been forged over a 70-plus-year history, starting with our founder, Bill Darden, who opened his first restaurant in 1938. We look to these values as we endeavor to deliver on Darden's core purpose – To nourish and delight everyone we serve.

Integrity and Fairness – It all starts with integrity and fairness. We trust in the integrity and fairness of each other to always do the right thing, to be open, honest and forthright with ourselves and others, to demonstrate courage, to solve without blame and to follow through on all our commitments.

Respect and Caring – We reach out with respect and caring. We have a genuine interest in the well-being of others. We know the importance of listening, the power of understanding and the immeasurable value of support.

Diversity - Even though we have a common vision, we embrace and celebrate our individual differences. We are strengthened by a diversity of cultures, perspectives, attitudes, and ideas. We honor each other's heritage and uniqueness. Our power of diversity makes a world of difference.

Always Learning, Always Teaching - We learn from others as they learn from us. We learn. We teach. We grow.

Being of Service – Being of service is our pleasure. We treat people as special and appreciated by giving of ourselves, doing more than expected, anticipating needs, and making a difference.

Teamwork – Teamwork works. By trusting one another, we bring together the best in all of us and go beyond the boundaries of ordinary success.

Excellence - We have a passion to set and to pursue, with innovation, courage and humility, ever higher standards.

It’s all about people and talent at Darden. Darden offers its employees not just jobs, but opportunities to build rewarding careers. In our communities, just one of our restaurants creates 100-150 jobs.

Any one of those jobs can lead to a career with Darden. In fact, more than half of our restaurant managers are promoted from our hourly ranks and 99 percent of our restaurant General Managers are promoted from within.

Creating a people-focused culture makes a noticeable difference in how we treat our guests. Their letters say it best. Many thank individual servers. Others thank thoughtful managers, such as those at The Capital Grille who phone guests the day after their visit to make sure their experience was enjoyable.

Stories like these reflect the culture that our founders instilled. We like to describe it as a culture of nice built on a bedrock of discipline. We reward acts of service, accountability and quiet hard work. We benefit from and contribute to our presence in the community.  At the same time we encourage everyone to be outspoken on maintaining standards, on sustainability and on diversity. The key is an uncompromising focus on doing what is right, and being a values-based, highly principled group of people. At Darden, who you’re with matters.

We depend on our employees to create great dining experiences for our guests. That’s why we value our employees so highly and invest so much in creating a supportive work environment that is focused on integrity, excellence and exceptional service.

We offer extensive training and self-development programs to help our employees grow and succeed. New employees participate in a structured training program to help them learn more about the company, our brands and our expectations. On-the-job training is provided by Certified Trainers – team members who have completed certification to train others – who teach new employees the ins and outs of the job. On average, new team members receive 40 to 80 hours of training (depending on the job) through video and hands-on instruction. Company values and expected behaviors are woven throughout the training to reinforce that how we treat our guests – and how we treat each other – is as important as the specifics of the job itself.

Compensation and Benefits
Darden offers competitive compensation, flexible work schedules and industry-leading benefits. Scheduling flexibility is the number-one reason why many people choose to work in the restaurant business.

As a national chain, we can offer our employees jobs across the United States and parts of Canada, allowing employees to stay with us when personal circumstances require relocation. We offer many types of careers, both inside and between restaurant companies and at our Restaurant Support Center (e.g., corporate headquarters).

All employees are eligible for health insurance and disability coverage from the first day of employment, which is highly unusual in the restaurant business. Also unique in the industry is our anniversary/vacation pay benefit for hourly team members, whether or not they choose to take time off.

In addition, we pay our employees on a weekly basis, rather than bi-weekly – even though it costs us more to do so – because we recognize the economic needs of our workers. Employees enjoy a 25 percent discount for themselves and up to seven family members or friends when dining at our restaurants. Team members receive a 50 percent discount on meals during their work hours.

Listening to Employees
At Darden, we listen to our workers and we care about what they have to say. Our management team regularly visits all of our restaurants and meets with team members and managers to hear their thoughts, concerns and ideas.

We have an open-door policy that encourages employees to talk to their managers or direct supervisors to discuss any issue they have, without fear of retaliation. Team members can also call our employee relations hotline to raise any issues, including concerns about their managers.

In another example of listening, we administer an employee engagement survey to all of our employees each year. By doing so, we hope to understand what we are doing well as an employer, and where we need to improve. More than 125,000 employees – or 74 percent of our workforce, up from 62 percent the previous year – responded to our October 2009 survey. We reviewed more than 300,000 written comments.

Thanking Employees
We believe it is critical to recognize employees for a job well done. We expect all our managers to be on the lookout for performance they can praise and encourage. We know positive reinforcement leads us to success.

We have both informal and formal recognition programs that reward individual and team performance. Our “Diamond Club,” for example, recognizes nearly 100 general managers and managing partners per year.

Commitment to Sustainability
We also believe in doing our part to limit our impact on the environment. Our business relies on a number of natural resources, and we want to be the best stewards of those resources that we can be. To learn more about Darden’s commitment to sustainability, including the role of our restaurant Green Teams, visit our Sustainability section.


The face of Darden is our 1,500-plus Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House restaurants throughout the U.S. and Canada, and the outstanding men and women who operate them. But behind the scenes at our corporate headquarters in Orlando is an equally talented team of men and women who work on everything from accounting and finance, facilities maintenance, food and beverage, HR, IT, marketing and communications, operations, purchasing, quality assurance, and real estate development, to the complex logistics involved with supplying our 1,500 locations. We call our corporate headquarters the Restaurant Support Center, or RSC.

Supporting all the managers and employees in our restaurants is a big job and we do it from our new state-of-the-art, LEED Gold Certified Campus that opened in September 2009. It features each of our brands’ development kitchens along "Main Street" as well as many amenities that our employees helped choose, including:


On-site Wellness and Fitness Centers

The Darden Café on-site dining facility

A company store and on-site dry cleaning service

On-site financial services provider

1/2–mile outdoor walking trail

Darden Reviews

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Gene Lee
17 Ratings
  • Asst. Manager

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
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    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Sioux Falls, SD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Sioux Falls, SD

    I worked at Darden (More than 3 years)

    Positive Outlook
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    Positive Outlook
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    It was very exciting working in the most popular restaurant in town. They do have one of the best salaries in the industry.


    The company is so large, it is difficult for them get the actual day to day managing of the restaurant.

Darden Interviews

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    Server/Bartender Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Milwaukee, WI
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview


    I applied online. The process took 5 daysinterviewed at Darden (Milwaukee, WI) in May 2015.


    My interview was today at 2:30pm. I had a first interview with one manager and when I was finished I had a second interview with another manager. The managers were really welcoming and nice. The manager told me I was hiring on the spot and let me know that I would be starting off serving and then when I get my license I will become a bartender. I have orrientation next week and my training starts soon.

    Interview Questions

    • What does teamwork mean to you?
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Darden Awards & Accolades

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CEI Rating: Perfect 100, Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, 2015
100 Best Companies to Work For, Fortune Magazine, 2014
100 Best Companies to Work For, Fortune Magazine, 2013
100 Best Companies to Work For, Fortune Magazine, 2011
CEI Rating: Perfect 100, Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, 2014
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Additional Info

Website www.darden.com
Headquarters Orlando, FL
Size 5000+ Employees
Founded 1968
Type Company - Public (DRI)
Industry Restaurants, Bars & Food Services
Revenue $5 to $10 billion (USD) per year

The Darden family of restaurants features some of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining: Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House. Through subsidiaries, we own and operate more than 1,500 restaurants, employ more than 150,000 people and serve more than 320 million meals a year.

Mission: To Nourish and Delight Everyone We Serve

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