Human Rights Day is Sunday, Dec. 10. Today we feature Michael Murphy, a culinary manager at the Olive Garden restaurant in Easton, MD. A strong proponent of Darden’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, he points out that these attributes are historical in Darden’s case. When Darden’s founder opened his first restaurant decades ago, it warmly welcomed all guests.
Q. If you could live at any other time in history, when would you choose, and why?
A. I would love to have been around in 1938 when Darden’s founder, Bill Darden, opened his first restaurant, The Green Frog, in Waycross, GA. Bill was ahead of his time — he welcomed all guests to his tables.
I consider Darden to be ahead of its time even today because it strongly values diversity and inclusion. No matter who you are, your race or what language you speak, Darden will find a place for you in its restaurants. Our managers look at their team members’ potential and help them realize their dreams. From the moment they are hired, the company helps them develop and grow. I’m proud to be a manager with Olive Garden.
Q. How long have you been with Olive Garden, and what was your first job with the brand?
A. I started as a server at the Olive Garden restaurant in Dover, DE, about eight years ago. I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to take the next step and learn more, so I later cross-trained as a bartender and other positions. I completed management training in Easton, MD, and was recently promoted to a culinary manager there.
Q. Why have you chosen a career with Olive Garden?
A. I grew up with Olive Garden because my mother, Tammie Comfort, has worked as a prep cook at the Olive Garden location in Dover for 24 years. They nicknamed me Olive Garden Baby. I loved the restaurant when I was a child and have always felt a pull toward foodservice and the customer service aspects of the business. I’m following in my mother’s footsteps.
I left Olive Garden for a year and a half to work as a certified cardiac telemetry technician reading heart monitors, but I missed being with guests. I called the Dover restaurant and asked to return, and the rest is history. I love the pace of the work, the salary and the customer service side that allows me to connect with guests.