Darden restaurants trims leadership workforce

Orlando-based group eliminated workforce by 11% over July, August

(Credit: Darden)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando-based Darden restaurant group eliminated its workforce by 11% this summer through restructuring and retirement incentives, according to the company’s recent earnings call.

The company’s restaurant brands include Olive Garden, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, Longhorn Steakhouse, Yard House and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood.

Darden Restaurants closed all dining rooms at the end of March when the coronavirus was taking off in the U.S. The closures most directly affected the 180,000 employees at the company. Almost all locations were reopened by late June.

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According to the 2021 first-quarter results presentation, Darden conducted an 11% workforce reduction in July and August through a retirement incentive program and restructuring. The jobs were eliminated from restaurant support and other operational leadership.

The job eliminations are estimated to save the company between $25 million to $30 million annually.

The earning report shows across the board all of Darden’s chains have taken a hit due to coronavirus closures. Longhorn Steakhouse suffered the least between the same time last year and the 2021 first-quarter, according to the results. The steakhouse sales were down by 16.3%, whereas all the other restaurants were down by 27% or more.

By August, Darden had repaid a $270 million loan and ended the quarter with $665 million in cash and $1.4 billion in liquidity.