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Growth Stories

The list of team members who have built successful careers with Darden after beginning in an entry-level role is long… really long. Helping others realize their potential and achieve their dreams is one of the things that makes the restaurant industry special, and we are proud to share just a few examples below. We refresh them regularly, so be sure to check back often for new stories.

  • Daryl Cunningham

    Daryl Cunningham

    General Manager

    Tenure: 16 years

    Daryl’s Path

    Started as a line cook at Olive Garden in Springfield, N.J. After entering the Manager in Training program, he worked as a Culinary, Service & Staffing, and Training Manager in the Livingston, Wayne and Paramus, N.J., locations. Daryl was promoted to General Manager of the Paramus location in 2013. He led the Harlem, N.Y., location before assuming his current role.

    olive garden
  • Thomas Hall

    Thomas Hall

    Executive VP of Operations

    Tenure: 24 years

    Thomas’s Path

    Began as a dishwasher and grill cook at LongHorn’s fifth-ever location in Sandy Springs, Ga., later becoming the Managing Partner of this same restaurant. After serving as a Director of Operations, Director of Operations Excellence and Senior Vice President of Operations, Thomas was promoted to his current role leading operations for the entire brand.

    Long Horn
  • Kelli Bourgeous

    Kelli Bourgeous

    Director of Operations, Houston Division

    Tenure: 14 years

    Kelli’s Path

    Began as a server in Springfield, Mo., progressing to a Training Lead participating in six new restaurant openings for Cheddar’s. Kelli was promoted to Service Manager at the location in Joplin, Mo., before becoming the Managing Partner at that same location in 2012. Kelli became Director of Operations overseeing the Missouri market in 2018. Kelli has two children, Brooklynn (18) and Josh (16), who are team members with LongHorn Steakhouse.

  • Raven Mare

    Raven Maree

    Director of Operations, East Division

    Tenure: 13 years

    Raven’s Path

    Began as a server at Yard House in Chino Hills, Calif., in 2008 and was promoted to manager two years later. Raven held management positions in the Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens and Hallandale Beach, Fla., locations before being promoted to General Manager of Hallandale Beach. She opened the West Nyack, N.Y., restaurant and led that team for two years before leading the Atlanta location. Raven opened the Orlando restaurant and led that team for two years before being promoted to her current role.

  • Souni Felipa

    Souni Felipa

    Managing Partner

    Tenure: 12 years

    Souni’s Path

    Started as a busser at The Capital Grille in Miami, Fla. He transferred to the Boca Raton, Fla., restaurant, then the Wall Street location in New York City. In 2010, Souni was promoted into the Manager in Training program, then soon after progressed to Assistant Manager, and then Assistant Managing Partner, at the Wall Street restaurant. In 2013, he became the Managing Partner at the Millennia location in Orlando before moving in 2015 to lead the International Drive location in Orlando’s convention district.

  • Stephen Pham

    Stephen Pham

    Managing Partner

    Tenure: 18 years

    Stephen’s Path

    Began as a food runner at the original Seasons 52 location in Orlando, progressing to server, trainer and bartender. Stephen was promoted to Service Manager at the location in Altamonte Springs, Fla., before becoming the Assistant Managing Partner in Houston, Texas, Managing Partner in Memphis, Tenn., and then Managing Partner in Altamonte Springs prior to his current role leading the same restaurant where his career began.

  • Melissa Altemare

    Melissa Altemare

    General Manager, Lutz, Fla

    Tenure: 12 years

    Melissa’s Path

    Began as a server at the Bahama Breeze in Raleigh, N.C. Melissa was promoted to Service Manager of the Tampa, Fla., location and served in multiple restaurant locations as a Staffing & Training Manager, and then as Culinary Manager, before being promoted to General Manager of her current location.

  • Falon Farrell

    Falon Farrell

    Senior VP of Operations

    Tenure: 15 years

    Falon’s Path

    Started as a server at The Capital Grille in Lombard, Ill. In 2012, she was promoted into the Manager in Training program and shortly after progressed to Assistant Manager at The Capital Grille in Orlando. In 2013, Falon transferred to Darden’s Restaurant Support Center as a Manager of Training and Development for the Specialty Restaurant Group. Soon after, she was promoted to Director of Operations for Eddie V’s, then VP of Operations and, most recently, SVP of Operations.