Darden Restaurants reduces corporate staff as sales remain down during pandemic

Darden Restaurants revealed Thursday it has cut 11% of its corporate workforce at its Orlando headquarters and in other leadership positions as the owner of Olive Garden continues to endure slower sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Olive Garden on North Orlando Avenue in Winter Park, photographed Thursday March 19, 2020. Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and other restaurant chains, reported quarterly earnings Thursday morning.

The company, which also owns LongHorn Steakhouse and other chains, said Thursday that same-restaurant sales were down 29% for the quarter ending Aug. 30 compared with the same quarter last year, but reported net earnings of $37 million from continuing operations.

At the same time, Darden has brought back thousands of its furloughed hourly employees in the past few months.

Darden shared details on the early retirement incentive program and corporate restructuring that led to the smaller corporate workforce on an earnings call.

“This restructuring resulted in a net 11% reduction in our workforce in the restaurant support center and field operations leadership positions,” CFO Rick Cardenas said, adding the move is expected to save the company between $25 million and $30 million annually.

Continue reading “Darden Restaurants reduces corporate staff as sales remain down during pandemic”

Dandelion Cafe closes for good

Dandelion Cafe closes for good – Orlando Sentinel 8_24_2020

Orlando’s Dandelion Community Cafe has permanently closed amid the coronavirus pandemic and after employees there said they were organizing to address issues with the restaurant.

The vegetarian cafe at 618 N.Thornton Ave. posted on its website that it had closed because of a “variety of factors outside of our control” including the impact of coronavirus.

Opened in 2006,the eatery had hosted art shows and live music and offered a menu of organic options. It was named the best vegetarian restaurantin Florida by Mental Floss in 2017.

“It is with a heavy heart, but clear mind,that I make the decision to per manently close our special place,” a post signed by founder Chris Blanc on the website said. “It has proven extremely difficult to operate a business in this current environment.The last few months have required an almost complete change to our
business in the way we serve our community, at great financial cost.”

The cafe’s voicemail, which was unable to accept messages Tuesday morning, said
it was closed until further notice. Most ofthe cafe’s staff had recently
signed a letter presented to management announcing they were forming a union,
according to Kyle Kern, secretary-treasurer of the Central Florida Industrial Workers
of the World labor union. The group, dubbed “The Seeds,” did not intend to move toward contract negotiations or a National Labor Relations Board election, but wanted to address grievances with the cafe directly as a group, citing issues such as low pay compared with rising rent costs, Kern said.

In an Aug. 11 Facebook post,the group said the cafe had “locked out” its staff for
organizing. Pickets were held outside the restaurant. “The owners of Dandelion have decided they will destroy their entire business to avoid sitting down with their employees to discuss serious problems with their workplace,” Kern said in an emailed statement Monday night. “This is the lowest of the low.”

Kern said about 15 hourly employees would be losing their jobs because of the
move.

Continue reading “Dandelion Cafe closes for good”