Darden Names New EVP/COO and President of Olive Garden

by Katie Lee

Orlando, Fla. — Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) has made two key appointments to its senior leadership team: Dave George has been promoted to EVP/COO of DRI; and Dan Kiernan has been promoted to president of Olive Garden.

Dave George’s promotion — to executive vice president and chief operating officer — is a new position within Darden. As COO, George will maintain his oversight of Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and International Franchising while adding Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen to his leadership portfolio. He will continue to report to Gene Lee, president and CEO of Darden.

“Dave is a seasoned and trusted leader who consistently delivers strong results. As we continue to simplify our operations across all brands, he is uniquely qualified to drive strategic prioritization and accountability, with a laser-focus on operational excellence,” says Lee.

George was named president, Olive Garden, in 2013 and executive vice president, Darden Restaurants in 2016. He joined Darden in 2007 as president, LongHorn Steakhouse, where he had served since 2003. Prior to that, George served as senior vice president, operations, for LongHorn Steakhouse and vice president, operations, for The Capital Grille.

Succeeding George as president of Olive Garden will be Dan Kiernan, effective immediately. Kiernan joined Olive Garden as a manager-in-training in 1992 and worked his way through the operations system — moving from general manager to director of operations to senior vice president, operations. He was named executive vice president, operations, in 2011 and has played an integral role in Olive Garden’s transformation.

“Dan is a great restaurant operator. His ability to make the complex simple, motivate more than 90,000 team members and lead teams dedicated to delivering memorable guest experiences makes him the perfect leader for Olive Garden,” says George.

Darden is a restaurant company whose differentiated brands include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s. The company operates nearly 1,700 restaurants. For more information, visit www.darden.com.

SOURCE: Darden Restaurants, Inc.

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