News Release Details

Darden Restaurants Names Nine Distinguished Vendors

May 22, 2000

ORLANDO, Fla., May 22 -- Darden Restaurants Inc., the world's largest casual dining company, presented its 2000 William B. Darden Distinguished Vendor award to nine key suppliers today. Darden is the owner and operator of all Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, and Smokey Bones restaurants.

Cited for "creating a strategic point of difference" and "going above and beyond" in support of their concepts were: Anheuser-Busch, Kettle Cooked Foods, Liberty Mutual, Quantum Foods, Cavit, Rocca delle Macie, Shaw's Southern Belle, Thai Royal and Turano Baking Company.

"Darden's mission is to be the best casual dining company, now and for generations," said Darden Chairman and CEO Joe R. Lee. "All of us strive on a daily basis to improve the quality of our food, service, and overall dining experience we offer our guests and these nine vendors have all worked along side of us to make our mission a reality."

The awards were presented during Darden's Annual Vendor Meeting that takes place each year during the National Restaurant Association (NRA) convention. The award, named for William B. Darden, the company's founder, is awarded to vendors that consistently outperform in the areas of quality, service, innovation and value.

"Our relationship with these nine great companies is more similar to that of a partnership than a traditional client-vendor relationship," said Barry Moullet, Darden Senior Vice President of Purchasing and Distribution. "There are specific initiatives that each of these company's has undertaken that's made each of our concepts a stronger company."

  • Anheuser-Busch was instrumental in the development and distribution of Bahama Breeze's signature micro brew Aruba Red.
  • Kettle Cooked Foods most notably developed the Tropical Lobster Chowder for Red Lobster's Lobsterfest 2000 Celebration.
  • Liberty Mutual created a five-person team dedicated solely to improving the effectiveness of its loss-prevention program for Darden Restaurants.
  • Quantum Foods created the 16 oz. T-bone steak for Olive Garden and the 12 oz. strip and 9 oz. top sirloin for Red Lobster.
  • The Cavit winery created new and proprietary bottling especially for its Principato wine which is the Olive Garden's signature line of Italian wines.
  • Rocca delle Macie, the family-owned winery based in Tuscany, partnered with Olive Garden to establish the Culinary Institute of Tuscany and the Olive Garden Riserva di Fizzano restaurant in Tuscany.
  • Shaw's Southern Belle, a supplier to Darden for more than 30 years (Darden's longest-standing business partner), created three new test products for Red Lobster.
  • Thai Royal was instrumental in helping Darden enter the Thailand seafood market and has counseled Darden on seafood purchasing issues.
  • Turano Baking Company developed the Cuban bread used by Bahama Breeze and supplied Olive Garden with its breadsticks in the Midwest region.

Darden Restaurants, Inc., based in Orlando, Fla., owns and operates more than 1,100 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones restaurants, with annual sales in excess of $3.5 billion.