February 14, 2011 by staff
Red Lobster, “Buyers are rich driving increased consumer spending, thereby reinforcing a recovery that the reluctance of masks among less affluent Americans to join,” begins a story Bloomberg. The piece includes comments by Andrew H. “Drew” Madsen III, president and COO of Darden Restaurants and 1978 graduate of DePauw University. The group includes Darden Restaurants Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille.
According to Madsen, the restaurant industry is seeing a “mixture of host … the less affluent customers who tend to have less control are the reduction of their meals at restaurants.” Shobhana Chandra and Anthony Feld write: “The uneven progress in household spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, helps explain why the Fed policy makers will probably keep interest rates near zero and complete a second round of purchases of Treasury. The unemployment rate averaged 9.6 percent last year, the highest rate since 1983, even as growth has outpaced. ”
Palm Coast, FL, will be the testing ground for a new concept Darden Restaurants Inc. of homes of two of its restaurant brands in the same building, a company representative said. The 8700 square foot building in the center of State Road 100 Palm Coast will host two Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants. The restaurants, which employ a total of 215, are both expected to start hiring Feb. 9 and are scheduled to open March 7.
Darden spokesman Rich Jeffers said the company has created the “synergy restaurant” concept to expand into smaller markets that would not meet its population density to build a single brand. Jeffers declined to say what that threshold is the density of population, but Palm Coast, about an hour south of Jacksonville, had a population of 73,168 in 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Jeffers said the restaurant building combined, which is about 1,000 square feet larger than the average size Olive Garden or Red Lobster, will cost about the same amount that it would build a single restaurant.
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