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Celebrating Darden's Restaurant Leaders

August 22, 2013

By: Darden Restaurants,

Celebrating Darden's Restaurant Leaders

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So what’s the rewarding project?

Enter The Joe R. Lee Diamond Club Awards.  Presented annually to the top performing General Managers and Managing Partners, the Diamond Club award is named in honor of Joe Lee, who opened the first Red Lobster in 1968 with company founder Bill Darden and later became Darden's first Chairman & CEO. Now in its 16th year, the award recognizes General Managers and Managing Partners throughout North America who demonstrate outstanding results by showing strong and inspiring leadership while also achieving top financial performance in the company's previous fiscal year.

Supporting the Diamond Club awards is a fast and fun process that starts in June and wraps in September.  Our team partners with a number of groups at our Restaurant Support Center to learn about award recipients, to notify the winners of their recognition and develop a plan to share our leaders’ stories with local media in the towns where they operate a Darden restaurant.   The real fun begins at the end of July when stories about our General Managers and Managing Partners begin to appear in newspapers and local websites.  It’s a great way to kick off our fiscal year (which starts in June) and motivate our leaders and teams to provide our guests with great experiences.

Take this story in the Green Bay Press Gazette, for example, about Robin Giedd, a General Manager at Red Lobster and two-time Diamond Club winner.  Robin started as a Red Lobster server in 1992 and was promoted to her current position in 2008.  It’s a story like this that makes me proud to work for a company that provides employees with opportunities to learn and grow and to pursue their professional dreams.

The Herald Citizen highlighted Jeff Nagy’s LongHorn Steakhouse in Cookeville.  His team came together to achieve one goal, and they did it twice!  This is the second time in three years the Cookeville LongHorn received the Diamond Club award.  Additionally, Jeff talked about hard work and dedication, qualities that are an integral part of how we operate our restaurants.

Tammy Imrie, a General Manager at Olive Garden, in her Diamond Club story in the Langley Advance, shared an important company core value, teamwork.  Tammy credited her Diamond Club award to her restaurant team and talked about how thankful she was to work with a talented group of people.  I feel the same way about the talented team I get to work with each day at the Support Center.

There are many more stories to share about our leaders.  You can read about this year’s Diamond Club Award winners at the below pages:

For Red Lobster, click here.

For Olive Garden, click here.

For LongHorn, click here.

Picture: Red Lobster Diamond Club Winners celebrate with their special guests before awards night. From left to right, Doug Schleimer, Marco Holter, Ismael Magana, Blake Fullbright, Raul Gonzalez and Robin Giedd.

Erica Jaeger is a media and communications manager at Darden Restaurants.  She currently supports LongHorn Steakhouse and Darden’s Business Development Group, and started her career at Darden providing communications support for Red Lobster.  

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