Dave George named Darden COO

The casual-dining chain operator also named Dan Kiernan president of Olive Garden.

Darden Restaurants on Monday named Dave George its chief operating officer and also named Dan Kiernan president of its Olive Garden chain.

George, who had been president of Olive Garden, will oversee that chain, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and international franchising and will also oversee the company’s newly acquired Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen chain.

COO is a newly created position at the Orlando, Fla.-based Darden, owner of eight casual-dining concepts.

George had been president of Olive Garden since 2013 and joined the company in 2007 as president of LongHorn Steakhouse after Darden acquired its parent, RARE Hospitality.

“Dave is a seasoned and trusted leader who consistently delivers strong results,” Darden CEO Gene Lee said in a statement. “As we continue to simplify our operations across all brands, he is uniquely qualified to drive strategic prioritization and accountability, with a laser focus on operational excellence.”

Kiernan, meanwhile, joined Olive Garden as a manager in training in 1992 and worked his way through the operations system before he was named executive vice president, operations, in 2011.

“Dan is a great restaurant operator,” George said in a statement. “His ability to make the complex simple, motivate more than 90,000 team members and lead teams dedicated to delivering memorable guest experiences makes him the perfect leader for Olive Garden.”

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