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Rick Cárdenas, Darden Restaurants' CEO.
Rick Cárdenas has more than 30 years with this company. Photo: @LatinoDirectors.

Darden Restaurants recently appointed Rick Cárdenas as its new CEO

The experienced executive has a long career within Darden, where he has excelled in many facets.

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Rick Cárdenas was recently named CEO of Darden Restaurants Inc., joining the exclusive list of Latino CEOs within public companies.

The 34-year veteran of the company, who assumed the new role on May 30, after being unanimously elected at the end of last year as the fourth CEO of this firm, began his career as a waiter.

“Rick moved from the restaurants to Darden’s restaurant support center in 1992 as an Auditor. From there, he held increasingly more responsible positions including Director of Corporate Development, Director of Finance and Technology for Seasons 52, Vice President of Finance and Assistant Controller for Olive Garden, Senior Vice President of Finance and Controller for LongHorn Steakhouse, Senior Vice President of Finance and Controller for Red Lobster, and Executive Vice President of Operations for LongHorn Steakhouse,” it is pointed out by Darden.

Cárdenas underlined:

This is the company I grew up with. It’s a big part of the fabric of my life.

Cárdenas' Career

Cárdenas, who currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Tractor Supply Company, holds a summa cum laude degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Central Florida.

Rick Cárdenas, CEO at Darden Restaurants Inc. Photo: Darden Restaurants Inc.
Rick Cárdenas, CEO at Darden Restaurants Inc. Photo: Darden Restaurants Inc.

He also earned an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College.

Cárdenas briefly left the company in 1998 to work for management consulting firms Bain & Company and Parthenon Group.

In July 2015, Cárdenas, who is also a Certified Public Accountant, became Chief Strategy Officer for Darden, where he later became Chief Financial Officer in March 2016.

Before being promoted to his current position, Cárdenas served as President and Chief Operating Officer in January 2021.

“I was a jack of all trades. I was able to take the skills I learned at Tuck and in consulting and help start and grow a new business. I was doing finance one day, technology one day, and marketing and human resources the next day. The learning I got at Tuck broadened me so I was able to bring things to the table that other people couldn’t bring,” Cárdenas highlights through his profile at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College.

About Darden

Darden’s family of restaurants features some of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining — Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s. 

It owns and operates more than 1,800 restaurants and it is proud to employ nearly 160,000 team members, making it one of the 50 largest private employers in America.

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