ORLANDO, Fla. – Darden Restaurants announced Siloam Springs, Ark.-based Simmons Foods and Sysco Specialty Meat Companies/Buckhead Beef, in Auburndale, Fla., were two of six “William B. Darden Distinguished Supplier Award” honorees for 2015.

Jim Lawrence, chief supply chain officer for Darden Restaurants, praised Simmons and Sysco, saying the companies “...make it possible for us to support our more than 1,500 restaurants nationwide on a daily basis.

“We are thankful for their teamwork and collaboration, and pleased to recognize them in this way,” he added.

Darden honored Sysco Specialty Meat Companies/Buckhead Beef for high levels of quality and consistency for many of the beef products served across Darden’s brands, which includes casual-dining restaurants, such as Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and the Capital Grille.

Simmons Foods was honored for its partnership in helping develop a new chicken-breast product being used by Olive Garden.

The award is named for the company's late founder. The honor recognizes suppliers who continuously exceed expectations by providing innovative products and services that contribute to the success of Darden Restaurants. The awards were presented at a dinner in Orlando on March 4.