News Release Details

Big Is Beautiful: Darden Restaurants Recognizes 'Big Help' From Anheuser-Busch

May 22, 2000

World's Leading Brewer Awarded Darden's Top Vendor Award

CHICAGO, May 22-- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world's biggest casual dining company, awarded Anheuser-Busch Inc., the world's biggest brewer, with its top award for vendor excellence today -- recognizing the brewer's attention to even the smallest details in guest service.

Darden, which owns and operates more than 1,100 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones BBQ & Sports Bar restaurants presented the St. Louis-based brewer with its William B. Darden Distinguished Vendor Award. The award is named after the founder of the Orlando-based restaurant company.

"This is an example of two major companies that act more like small business partners," said Joe Lee, chief executive officer of Darden. "We work very well together to serve our restaurant guests a great dining experience."

Working closely with each Darden Restaurant company -- and even focusing efforts down to the individual restaurant level -- Anheuser-Busch and Darden marketing and culinary experts help identify guest beer preferences and develop this alcoholic beverage line as a great complement to a guest's dining experience.

"Our goal is to be Anheuser-Busch's long-term partner in success," says Gary Heckel, President of Bahama Breeze. "We want to capitalize on their proven track record of performance, commitment to our business, and pride in our brand."

For example, Anheuser-Busch was instrumental in fiscal 2000 with helping Darden's Caribbean concept, Bahama Breeze, to further develop guest taste profiles and ensure the availability of the emerging restaurant company's signature micro brew called Aruba Red. Bahama Breeze sells more Aruba Red in its 14 restaurants than all other beers combined.

The William B. Darden Distinguished Vendor Award salutes world-class vendors for outstanding quality, service, innovation and value. Darden purchasing, marketing and culinary experts chose Anheuser-Busch from over 1,200 vendors that did business with the restaurant company during fiscal 2000 (which ends May 31). It is the second year in a row the St. Louis-based distributor has won the award.

"Anheuser-Busch has done an outstanding job of focusing on the four key drivers in our supply chain, those being Quality, Service, Innovation, and Cost," said Barry Moullet, senior vice president of purchasing for Darden. "We look forward to a long friendship."

Anheuser-Busch, Inc., is a wholly owned brewing subsidiary of Anheuser- Busch Companies Inc. (NYSE: BUD) and has been brewing quality beer since 1852. The company has led the U.S. brewing industry since 1957. It is best known for brewing Budweiser and Bud Light -- the top two selling brands in the world -- as well as Michelob and the Busch family brands. Anheuser-Busch also brews specialty brews (including Aruba Red) and non-alcohol brews, such as O'Doul's and O'Doul's Amber.