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A look back at Gene Lee's sometimes contrarian approach to leading Darden

The longtime restaurant leader intends to retire in May. Here's how his thinking has influenced a casual-dining giant—if not the industry itself, according to RB's Reality Check.


Why this COVID surge may bring fewer restaurant restrictions than last time

Elsewhere in the world, service limits are being imposed on restaurants again. But in the U.S., officials are relying on vaccination and mask mandates to avoid caps on seating and hours of operation. At least until now.

The Bottom Line: The labor force participation rate remains stubbornly low. The continued pandemic is likely to keep it that way for a while.

The scaled-down spinoff will serve pancake bowls, burgers and more—mainly for takeout. It's the first of 10 slated for the Big Apple.

The Bottom Line: Restaurant sales rose 13% on an annual basis last month and continue to improve. But costs for both labor and food have also taken off. Here’s a look at the data.

A few years after pressing pause, closing some units, and weathering the onset of the pandemic, the buzzed-about fast-casual says 2021 was its most profitable year so far.

The Bottom Line: The controlling shareholder of the company that owns Steak n Shake wants the family dining chain to stop spending on restaurants.

Taste Tracker: First Watch and Bar Louie go big at brunch; gingerbread, pomegranate & mint trend; cluckin’ at Jollibee’s and Miller’s Ale House; Red Lobster dives into sea-cuterie.

The Bottom Line: The fast-food taco chain has been unable to gain traction with investors since it went public seven years ago and industry trends made a sale likely.

Despite a nearly 40-year high in menu price inflation, the industry is giving up profit margins. And consumers are still willing to pay what they’re charging.

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