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Most popular stories: A new era for Darden

Most popular stories: A new era for Darden

Breaking down NRN’s top trending stories

Each week, NRN editor-in-chief Sarah Lockyer gives you her take on the top restaurant industry news.

News of last week's Federal Trade Commission lawsuit to block the proposed $8.2 billion merger of distributors Sysco and US Foods continues to dominate our audience interest — which is no surprise considering how much a deal like that could change the environment of the foodservice industry.

Not too far behind in our most popular stories, however, was the final chapter to the recent Darden Restaurants saga, and perhaps the beginning of a new era for the casual-dining company. Darden officially named Gene Lee its CEO, a move many people expected after he was named to the interim role in October. Last year Darden battled an activist investor and unhappy shareholders that eventully voted in a completely new slate of directors, and longtime CEO Clarence Otis also stepped down. What a year.

Lee is an extremely respected operator. He came to Darden from the Rare Hospitality Inc. acquistion in 2007 and has run large and small brands alike. His leadership style is well celebrated, and it will be exciting to see what he can do at Darden — a company that is facing some financial hurdles (will it sell its real estate?) as well as a sales slowdown at Olive Garden.

And finally, I would be remiss without mentioning our 2015 class of Breakout Brands. Be sure you click through to meet some of the most promising restaurant concepts today, and check out the brands' insights from our Twitter chat with them.    

Take a look at NRN’s top 10 most popular stories:

1. FTC sues to block Sysco-US Foods merger

2. Gene Lee named permanent CEO at Darden

3. Meet the 2015 Breakout Brands

4. Qdoba sales propelled by simplified pricing

5. Will Walmart's pay hike affect McDonald’s?

6. New York State approves 50-percent tipped wage increase

7. Long John Silver's names former Sonic exec CEO

8. Denny’s to expand fast-casual concept

9. Einstein Noah to close 39 underperforming units

10. Texas Roadhouse developing more Bubba’s 33 restaurants

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