Does Darden Hire Felons?

Darden Restaurants, Inc is a restaurant operator that owns a number of fine dining and casual dining restaurant chains in America.

Everyone who slips up in life deserves a second chance. People with felonies on their record are no different. A mistake, a misstep, or a bad patch in life should not stain a person forever. Felons deserve a chance, but in order for them to have one, companies have to be willing to take a chance on them.

About Darden

Darden is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company. The firm owns the fine dining establishments Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and The Capital Grille, along with the more casual restaurants Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Seasons 52, and Yard House.

Darden is named for Bill Darden, founder of Red Lobster, which Darden Restaurants owned until 2014. When Red Lobster became a hit, Darden sold the company to General Mills, which created Darden Restaurants when they decided to focus on food products.

As of 2018, Darden has 1,500 restaurants and employs more than 150,000 people in the United States. As of this writing, they are the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

Darden employees receive dental and vision coverage, life insurance, critical illness and accident insurance, and participation in a 401k plan, as well as an Employee Stock Purchase Plan.

Employees at Darden-owned restaurants receive competitive salaries and, as their restaurant chain is part of Darden’s firm, a fair bit of job security. There are a wide variety of jobs available both to entry-level workers and professionals.

Does Darden Hire Felons?

Based on our research and a number of online sources, it appears that, yes, they do. Darden has hired felons in the past, and they appear to still be open to the possibility, especially if the felony is non-violent.

Because this is not official policy, individual restaurants or managers may claim that they do not hire felons. Casual dining chains will likely be more open to the idea, especially for entry-level positions.

Does Darden Run Background Checks?

Yes, they do. A number of websites have asked Darden-owned companies and employees whether they do background checks, and the answer is always a definite yes. If you are applying at any of their restaurants, assume one will be run on you prior to hiring.

It is worth your time, if you have a felony on your record, to research the regulations for background checks in your state. Some states scrub felonies from the record after seven years. Many more leave them in place indefinitely.

Careers at Darden

When dealing with a multi-restaurant firm of this size, the number and variety of careers available is huge. If you have any experience in the restaurant industry, that is a huge plus, but don’t discount an entry-level position if you don’t.

All but two of Darden’s restaurants are casual dining restaurants. That means people dining there will expect a friendly, laid-back family dining experience. Server positions at these restaurants are often available to people with minimal service experience, especially if you have other qualifications that could apply.

If you have any cooking experience, it could land you a job cooking for anywhere from The Olive Garden to Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. Unless you are a professional cook, you will want to focus on the casual dining kitchens over fine dining.

Many, if not all, of Darden’s restaurants include a bar, so if you have any bartending experience, this will be a good area to look for openings, especially if you have a flexible schedule and can work evenings.

If you have no restaurant experience but are willing to take on an entry-level job at a slightly lower payscale, a busser or dishwasher position can be a great first step to building a solid work history.

Application Process at Darden

Because Darden is the owner of several different restaurant chains, each chain will have its own website and application process. The good news is that you can get to any individual restaurant chain’s website and careers page through the Darden main site.

Go to: and click on the logo of the restaurant chain you want. You’ll be taken to the careers page of that chain’s website, where you can search for open jobs in your area.

If this is your first time applying for a food service job, be honest about it. It’s true that some restaurants only want to hire people with food service experience as servers and above, but if you claim experience you don’t have, you’ll get found out.

If asked in an in-person interview about your felony, use that question as an opportunity to explain what happened, why, and how you’ve moved past it since then. The more a potential hirer knows about you, the more real you will be to them.

Finally, do not ever lie about your criminal record, on paper or in person. All Darden restaurants do background checks and will find you out, and hire someone who tells the truth.

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