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Darden names Dave George as operations chief

Darden names Dave George as operations chief

Company also promotes Dan Kiernan to Olive Garden president

Darden Restaurants Inc. has named Dave George, left, to the new position of chief operating officer, the company said Monday in announcing leadership changes.

The Orlando, Fla.-based casual-dining company said George as COO will add Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, which the company acquired in April for $780 million, to his portfolio, which also includes Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and international franchising.

George will continue to report to Gene Lee, Darden president and CEO. 

“Dave is a seasoned and trusted leader who consistently delivers strong results,” Lee said in a statement. “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.”

George was named president of Olive Garden in 2013 and as an executive vice president for Darden in 2016. He joined Darden in 2007 as president of LongHorn Steakhouse when the company acquired the brand from Rare Hospitality International Inc. He had joined LongHorn in in 2000 as vice president of operations for The Capital Grille and later served as senior vice president at LongHorn before being named president in 2003.

Darden also on Monday said it had promoted Dan Kiernan to the position of Olive Garden president.

Kiernan joined Oliver Garden’s management training program in 1992 and most recently served as the brand’s executive vice president of operations.

“Dan is a great restaurant operator,” Lee said. “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.”

As of Nov. 26, Darden had 1,722 restaurants, including brands such as Yard House and Bahama Breeze.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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