It's good to be one of the world's largest company-owned and operated restaurant conglomerates. When the strong economic winds blow, Darden, with its $6.7 billion in annual sales, has the deep roots (and pockets) to hold on tight. But Darden gets our nod for Chain Operator of the Year because it's doing far more than riding out the storm. Under chief executive officer Clarence Otis, the 1,700-unit company is putting up some impressive numbers at several of its well-respected brands, ...

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