Darden Restaurants Inc. has entered into a formal area development agreement with CMR, a Mexican casual dining company, to develop and operate Orlando, Fla.-based Darden's Red Lobster, Olive Garden and The Capital Grille brands in Mexico.
The agreement calls for CMR to initially develop a minimum of 37 restaurants in Mexico over the next five years.
CMR operates and franchises more than 100 restaurants in 26 cities throughout Mexico. For more than 40 years, the company has operated a variety of company-owned and franchised concepts within the casual-dining and fine-dining sectors, including Fonda Mexicana, La Destilería, elago and Chili's.
Last month, Darden opened a Red Lobster in Dubai, the company’s first restaurant in the Middle East, said Kim Lopdrup, Darden senior vice president of business development.
"Today we're excited to build upon that milestone with the announcement of our agreement with CMR,” Lopdrup said. “With its growing middle class and strong affinity for American brands, Mexico is an attractive growth market for Darden.”
"As we've stated previously, Darden remains committed to owning and operating its restaurants domestically. However, we believe the best way for us to expand the reach of our portfolio internationally is by selecting the right partners, like CMR, with outstanding operations experience, local market knowledge and the commitment to delivering our brands' experience with excellence."
Joaquín Vargas Guajardo, CMR board chairman, welcomed Red Lobster, Olive Garden and The Capital Grille to the company.
“The addition of these three highly-regarded brands to our portfolio is a huge step towards our vision, which is to bring the best of the world to Mexico and share the best of Mexico with the world.’”
Darden owns and operates more than 1,900 restaurants that generate more than $7.5 billion in annual sales. The company employs about 180,000 people and owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.