Nice article in the current issue of Fast Company titled, Why America is Addicted to Olive Garden by Chuck Salter. The piece provides info on how the restaurant concept that is owned by Darden Restaurants uses customer research, technology and brand management to grow its business.
However, it’s unfortunate that when the history of Olive Garden was provided in the article, nowhere did it mention the contribution of one of the most impressive corporate entrepreneurs ever, Blaine Sweatt. Blaine is often times called the father of Olive Garden and had been Darden’s President of New Business Development from 1996 to 2007. He led the in-house teams that developed Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones BBQ Sports Bar concepts, among others. He got his start in the company back when it was owned by General Mills, and it was thanks to his effort, that Olive Garden is enjoying the success it is today. He is also an entrepreneur who loves to give back to students and is one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever met. So while the article may have ignored him, next time you’re in a Darden Restaurant, have a glass of wine and toast the contributions that were made by a Blaine Sweatt, a great entrepreneur who just happened to be working in a corporation.