ORLANDO – Area development agreements have been signed between Darden Restaurants Inc. and two leading multi-brand restaurant operators in Latin America. Grupo Piramide will develop Darden's Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica while Dosil SA will develop the concepts in Peru. Both of the new franchisees already operate other American casual dining and quick service restaurants.

These agreements complement Darden's recent area development agreement with International Meal Company, which will operate Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse in Brazil, Colombia, Panama and the Dominican Republic. Darden has also had franchisees in Mexico and Puerto Rico for many years. As a result of these new agreements, Darden will have operations in 12 markets throughout Latin America.

"We are excited to expand our presence in Latin America through these agreements with Grupo Piramide and Dosil SA, both of which are the premier chain restaurant operators in their markets," said Kim Lopdrup, senior vice president of Business Development for Darden. "Darden remains committed to owning and operating its restaurants domestically. We believe the best way to expand internationally, however, is to partner with outstanding local chain restaurant operators, so we can benefit from their existing infrastructure, market knowledge and relationships."

Grupo Piramide is the leading multi-brand restaurant company in Central America, which operates five American casual dining brands plus Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut and Wendy's. In total, they operate 662 restaurants and employee more than 19,000 people.

Dosil SA is part of the leading multi-brand restaurant company in Peru. It operates Chili's, Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King. They have a total of 302 restaurants and 11,000 employees.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. calls itself the world's largest full-service restaurant company. It owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., it employs more than 200,000 people. Its restaurant brands include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House.