Executive Leadership

Darden is led by one of the most experienced leadership teams in the industry.

Michael Kneidinger

President, Yard House

Michael Kneidinger was named President of Yard House in May 2016. Michael, who is also a member of Darden Restaurants’ Executive Team, leads a company with more than 70 locations across the country, 9,000 team members and $609 million in annual sales.

Most recently, Michael served as President, Bahama Breeze Island Grille for three years. Michael joined Darden from Hard Rock Café International where he was Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. As COO, Michael led a domestic and international business portfolio of 61 restaurants and five retail stores generating $600 million in sales. After joining Hard Rock Café in 1993 as a General Manager in their Washington, DC, location, Michael was promoted to Director of Operations and later, Area Vice President of Franchise Operations.

During his time at Hard Rock, Michael developed and executed a brand revitalization effort that produced impressive results. He is well known throughout the industry for his engaging leadership style and strong guest and employee focus. He has a track record of building strong teams and facilitating a culture that successfully blends values, accountability, philanthropy and results.

A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Michael began his hospitality career as a manager for Bennigan’s Restaurants, a Division of S&A Restaurants.

Darden owns and operates more than 1,700 Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s restaurants in North America, employing more than 185,000 people and serving nearly 400 million guests annually.

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