Darden Restaurants Inc. opened its first Seasons 52 in 2003 in its hometown of Orlando, Fla., and the company has ramped up growth since the brand passed its first decade. The “fresh grill and wine bar” is especially known for its chef-inspired menu that features items in the “lighter” category. Nothing on the menu has more than 475 calories, which resonates with more health-minded customers. Seasons 52 also pioneered small-dessert offerings, providing guests with a caddy from which they could select shot-glass-sized servings of anything from key lime pie to carrot cake. For an added charge, customers can take the dessert and glass home. The brand has also found success in offering a broad selection of wines.
Keys to Growth:
U.S. Systemwide Sales growth. Seasons 52 rose to No. 2 in the Second 100, increasing 32.1 percent, to $210 million, from 25.2 percent in the Preceding Year. In the overall Top 200 rankings, Seasons 52 jumped to No. 155 from No. 186.
Growth in Estimated Sales Per Unit. Unit sales turned positive: Seasons 52 booked a 3.4 percent increase in estimated sales per unit in the May-ended Latest Year, after a 7.3 percent decline in the Preceding Year. Estimated Sales Per Unit for the latest year were $6.1 million, up from $5.9 million in the Preceding Year.
Email Club. Seasons 52 encourages customers to sign up for its Fresh Intelligence e-newsletter, which the company sends monthly with information about seasonal dishes, new wines and special events.
U.S. Unit Growth. As of May 25, 2014, Darden had 38 Seasons 52 units, up from 31 in May of 2013.