Darden Restaurants Inc. is getting rid of its six combination Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the move to close the combination restaurants is due in part to Darden's "plans to sell or spin off Red Lobster." Rich Jeffers, the director of communications for Darden, tells Nation's Restaurant News, "We just will not be able to operate those restaurants after the separation the way they are configured today since we will no longer own Red Lobster."
As previously noted, these Red Lobster/Olive Garden combination restaurants share a bar, bathrooms, and a kitchen but have separate entrances to the dining rooms. NRN writes that the "dual-branded units" were created for "markets that don't have population density to support a single-brand location."
After closing two of its six hybrid locations this past weekend, Darden plans to convert the remaining four into stand-alone Olive Gardens. The dining rooms will be redesigned to look like other Olive Gardens and the restaurants will have a single entrance. No timeline has been set for the conversions, so anyone wishing to dine at the last remaining Red Lobster/Olive Garden hybrids should get to it.
· Darden to End Combo Olive Garden, Red Lobster Restaurants [Orland Sentinel via Orlando Business Journal]
· Darden Closes Combined Red Lobster, Olive Garden Units [NRN]
· All Olive Garden Coverage on Eater [-E-]