ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today announced it has entered into an area development agreement with International Meal Company (Bovesa:IMCH3) to develop and operate 57 restaurants under Darden's Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20050203/FLTH026LOGO ) "We're excited to bring our three category-leading brands to these countries through our agreement with International Meal Company, a leading, multi-brand restaurant operator in South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean," said Kim Lopdrup, senior vice president of Business Development for Darden. " Brazil's growing middle class and strong affinity for American brands makes it an attractive growth market for Darden. And IMC's focus in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama makes them the ideal partner for these markets." "As we've stated previously, Darden remains committed to owning and operating its restaurants domestically. However we believe the best way for us to expand the reach of our portfolio internationally is by selecting great partners, such as IMC, with outstanding operations experience, local market knowledge, and the commitment to delivering our brands' experience with excellence." IMC is Brazil's leading, multi-brand, quick casual restaurant company, with more than 350 company-owned restaurants and approximately 12,000 employees. The company operates the Frango Assado and Viena flagship brands; which combined have almost 100 years in the market and are recognized by guests for their quality of food and service. "We are delighted to welcome Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse to our family," said IMC Chief Executive Officer Javier Gavilan. "We are constantly looking for the best brands around the world and Darden's fit perfectly with our idea of excellence."