Ever Work for Darden Restaurants? (I’m Sorry if the Answer is Yes.)

This is a public service announcement brought to you by The Bitchy Waiter

I was recently contacted by a writer for the Orlando Sentinel named Sandra Pedicini. She asked that I help her find fellow restaurant folks who have dealt with Darden Restaurants. I have never worked for them so I have never had the pleasure of working at a Red Lobster or Olive Garden. Unfortunately, I have eaten there. Here is her email to me:

 I cover Darden Restaurants for the Orlando Sentinel. I’ve seen your website and would like to ask for your help. I’m trying to find people who have worked for or interviewed for jobs at new Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses – ones that have opened in the past six months. I’m also looking for anyone who works at these chains that has been labeled something called an M28. I’d like to ask them a couple questions about benefits and hours. Would you mind posting something about that on your blog and on Facebook?

Sandra Pedicini
spedicini@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5240

There you have it. I know that some shit has been going down with Darden lately and maybe this is a great opportunity for your voice to be heard. Please contact Ms. Pedicini if any of that M28 stuff means something to you. (Apparently it is not the Manhattan bus that goes down 28th Street.)

And this concludes the public service announcement from The Bitchy Waiter.

Please share this so as many people can knw about this as possible. Thank you.

17 thoughts on “Ever Work for Darden Restaurants? (I’m Sorry if the Answer is Yes.)

  1. Anonymous

    Yes, could your find out what this M28 is? I do work for this corporation and have for ten years. I can verify that at one time the company believed and acted in the manner of 'we are only as good as our employees are happy', over time and the financial 'hard times'(in which darden did not suffer)there were actual emails to managers that stated this was a time for us to get ahead, since the job market sucked, that we could offer less benefits, lower pay and get away with it. It was at one time a shining star in the restuarant bussiness, now it is even more dirty than any other. They have been using legal loopholes and using the language of laws to get around the meaning of such laws piut in place to protect the 'little' guy. This is an anonymous post due to the fact I can fired for even talking about this. Corporate actually pays people to find employees bad mouthing the company on-line and then terminating them.

  2. Nikki

    Hi! Thank you so much for posting this about Darden. I've been talking to workers at Capital Grilles and Red Lobsters for almost 2 years now to uncover what really happens in terms of work environment, benefits, pay scale and promotions, health and safety, and wage theft. And let me tell you – according to every single person I've talked to, their health insurance program is a total scam. Additionally, many of the workers we've spoke with report racial and gender discrimination in hiring and promotions practices, especially at their top tier restaurant, the Capital Grille. Plus, we've got reports of wage theft – from people not being paid their overtime properly, to illegal tip out practices. Lastly, this company still pays tipped employees at $2.13/hour and pays back of the house workers minimum wage. While paying people such a low wage isn't illegal, it really makes no sense when the CEO makes a salary of 8.6 million dollars, with a 29 million dollar severance package. His name is Clarence Otis, Jr and you can find his information as well as the Board of Director's on their corporate website. And finally, the Darden Corporation just got a "D" grade from the Coprorate Library for their poor governance practices, tax liability, and other things. To make this company do what's right by their workers and build long term sustainability, workers from across the country in New York, Miami, DC, Los Angeles, and Chicago have been organizing their Capital Grille workplaces. Otherwise, the Darden supercapitalists will continue to cut and squeeze the life out of their workers all in the name of the bottom line.

  3. Anonymous

    The location I work at isn't new, and I don't know what an M28 is, but I have to say this place is unlike any restaurant I have ever worked for. They are very strict, and turnover is rapid. Maybe this is why they are distrustful of their employees. When I was hired, I was told never to bring anything inside the building except my coat. If the boss asks me to empty my pockets, and I refuse, I will be fired. We actually went over this in training. If I have to go to the bathroom during a shift, I can't bring my apron with me. I'm obviously not going to leave my money pouch in my apron, so I have to carry it in the bathroom with me and either balance it on the toilet paper holder or tuck it under my armpit, both less sanitary than just leaving it in my apron, and hanging my apron on the coathook in the bathroom, like I used to at every other restaurant I have ever worked in. (Also makes it obvious if it is my time of the month; my pockets aren't big enough for a tampon, and since I can't have a purse or apron in the bathroom, I have to carry it through the dining room with me, so embarrassing.) I feel like a prisoner sometimes. I have no desire to work here full time, but I know that overtime is forbidden. If you are scheduled for a double, they will cut you (end your shift) after lunch and have you come back for the dinner shift in a couple of hours. It's basically working 2 separate shifts in one day; I would rather take a lunch break and then keep taking tables all afternoon, than break up my day like that. We only get 3 table stations there, and sometimes we get stuck sharing the 3rd table (if it is the 8 top), which is irritating. I have never worked harder for less money. I have had a few good nights, but mostly I make $30-$40 per shift. Partly due to the 3 tables, partly due to the short shifts (sometimes I go it at 5pm, done at 8:30). It's pretty awful. Everything is free refills- $9.99 will get you all you can eat soup or salad, pasta and breadsticks, and customers will eat ALL they can eat. It's hard to run up a tab there.

  4. Paula

    i worked for this sorry ass corp in Lake City, Fl for a few years on and off. Mostly off because it was such a terrible place to work. The GM and managers care only about their bonus and how they are going to get them. We were all treated like we didnt know what the hell was going on. I had a walk out ( a family with 2 kids) and was written up like it was my fault. The insurance plan is ridiculous, they have a $10,000 policy, that is the policy limit, they take the premium out of your pay check. I wish i could remember how much it was per check, you can find in it their employee propoganda. Its not worth it. I cant even begin to tell you all the tales of this stupid corporation. We were also told at times not to punch in until the GM told us to. I never listened and punched in anyway. The so called "guests" that patronize this hellhole also know that is they complain about ANYTHING they will get their dinners for free. This is commonplace in most chain restaurants. I always wanted to drive around the USA hitting all the chains to see how much i could get for free then write a book titled "How to eat for free on dumb ass corporate chain restaurants" I hate Darden Restaurants, especially The Lobster and never ever patronize them.

  5. Rogue Wino

    Undercover waitress had a post about this too- she looked up M28 and found out that servers with this classification can't work more than 30 hours a week. So part timers, basically. I read somewhere else, and I can't remember where, sorry, a comment from a darden worker about part timers being treated much more poorly then full time employees. Anyways, not much info, but maybe this helps.

  6. Anonymous

    I have worked for Darden for close to three years and have never had a problem with the company. My insurance is great and even though I'm tech. part-time, I get to work close to 35 hours a week. The previous location I worked at, however, would always let me work over 40 hours. Never hassled, never had a problem.

  7. Anonymous

    I have worked for the company for almost 9 years when I first started it was great felt like a cloe nit family money was good then was made a bartender made $9.00 per hour plus tips and tip out about 2 years ago I was basically handed a paper saying that company wide they were cutting all bartenders pay to 5 dollars and hours and making a fixed tipout system to where me and my family have suffered completely by this basically cutting my wage for the year in half when the change happened i was basically handed a paper saying I ok my pay to drop and if I dont sign I know longr have a job now i have to wait until the next day to get tipout which takes up to an hour on some days because its a hassle to management. I also have noticed that with the pay cut they have added more and more work as a bartender we should be walking out of a shift with more than servers when some shifts I make 10 bucks plus a 30 dollar tipout but they some how always have loop holes in the legal sense. Years ago I LOVED my job now I can't stand it am always worried that my job is in danger because I am a long time employee and am grandfathered in on some of the vacation pays and benefits it is no longer abou the guests or their employees its all about how big of bonuses management can make and all about labor numbers and anything else to benefit the higher ups

  8. Anonymous

    Worked at OG for three months, as a waiter. First corporate restaurant job, and assuredly the last one. Took the job because I needed some semblance of an income. Don't ever work at a place in the industry where a manager says "Never do this", drops a breadstick on the alley floor, puts it into a basket, and carries it out to guests. Also, Springfield, Illinois. Enough said.

  9. Anonymous

    I work at a Red Lobster and have not heard of this M28 thing. I actually like the restaurant I work at, the GM is friendly and listens to his workers. It's corporate that I hate! They come up with these stupid promotions (4 course meal for $15, Endless shrimp, etc) and horrible coupons ($10 off, $5 off) that it brings in trashy people and bad tips.

  10. Anonymous

    I have been at the Lobster for almost 9 years. I have never heard of M28 and I have worked several 40 hour weeks but we are not allowed a minute of overtime. When I started RL was a wonderful place to work where I felt valued and until the recent changes I was still one of the newer employees.I am a bar tender and a server and I have had my bar wages cut four times in the last five years, I am now expected to a lot more work prepping the bar as well as take a full 4 table section and do take outs as well as tend to my bar patrons. The only manager that allows me to take a break is the GM all the others expect me to still work off the clock. The only way to get a break is to go smoke and I have been trying to quit for years.After we had the meeting about the new menu I am looking for a new job. because this corporation no longer gives a shit about anything but money. Can you believe that in CA, they are going to put the four course meal on the core menu in the middle of endless shrimp and launch a new value menu.Oh and I almost forgot benefits. The insurance is laughable at best for a family of four they wan $300 a month for nothing insurance when I can just buy private insurance for $200 that is actual insurance. Darden dimes is a joke they have matched a couple of times but not once have they ever helped anyone who needed them, even if they say the problem they are having is covered. the only good benefit is I still get vacation pay but I am now one of very few.

  11. Anonymous

    I have worked for olive garden for 2 years, I havent seen any part time employees treated differently at all. There are waaay more regulations and stricter rules than any company I've ever worked for, ever. Theres also something there I havent seen elswhere as well, so much micro management it makes everyones individual jobs simple. Just what i've seen.

  12. Chelsea

    I worked for the great OG for three years in Clearwater and was always treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. Our GM is one of the most kind and understanding people I have ever had the pleasure to work for. We have the lowest turnover in the district and he was GM of the year one year, which he celebrated by giving everyone a cash prize for being such an awesome team. I have since quit because Hooters recruited me and I'm making twice as mucho net there, but I frequently visit my friends from the OG and I always felt valued as a Darden employee. There was a hostess there that had been there for 26 years when I finally left. These assumptions must be on an individual basis, because working for Darden was so rewarding for me. I'm sorry to hear that other people are experiencing such horrible work conditions. I hope things improve for you all.


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