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Darden Continues International Growth With Entry Into Southeast Asia

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) announced it has signed an area development agreement with Secret Recipe, a leading restaurant operator in Asia.  The company will initially develop 13 units under Darden's Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands in Malaysia with the option for additional brands and locations in the future. 

This deal complements Darden's other recent area development agreements in the Middle East and Latin America.  The company currently franchises 44 units to local operators in seven countries abroad including 30 Red Lobsters, six Olive Gardens, seven LongHorns and one location of The Capital Grille.

Darden remains committed to owning and operating its restaurants domestically and believes the best way to expand internationally is to partner with outstanding local chain restaurant operators, such as Secret Recipe, to benefit from their existing infrastructure, market knowledge and relationships.

"We have outstanding partners in the Middle East and Latin America who are operating and introducing our restaurant brands to new guests," said Kim Lopdrup, senior vice president of Business Development for Darden.  "We're excited to work with Secret Recipe to develop our brands in Malaysia, a vibrant, growing country."

Secret Recipe, founded in 1997, has become one of the fastest growing lifestyle cafe chains in Asia with 300 Secret Recipe Cakes & Cafe units in major markets in Malaysia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, India and Australia. 

"We are delighted to welcome Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse to our family," said Dato' Steven Sim, Group CEO of Secret Recipe.  "Darden's restaurant brands and values fit very well with our own operating principles, which include fine-quality food and distinctive service."

About Darden RestaurantsDarden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2013, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the third year in a row and is the only full-service restaurant company ever to appear on the list. Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of the people who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights about what our guests want. For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

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