Darden World Headquarters - Orlando Experience

Ten students from NAU’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management took a trip to Orlando, Florida from March 1 to March 3, 2013 to tour the Darden Restaurants’ headquarters accompanied by Associate Professor Wally Rande. This opportunity gave students the chance to experience how the company is run at the corporate level as well as learn valuable skills to help them in their future restaurant careers.

“This is the third trip HRM has done but the first two trips have been to hotel headquarters,” Rande said. “Being the school of both hotel and restaurant management, we’ve brought students to hotels and decided we need to bring students to restaurants. We’ve had a great relationship with Darden for a very long time so we chose them for the first student visit.”

The students visited and toured some of Darden’s restaurants but spent the majority of the trip at the corporate headquarters.

“The trip to Darden’s Restaurant Support Center was very interesting,” said HRM student Christina Wyman. “I learned a lot about many aspects of Darden that aren’t really seen in the restaurants but which play a vital role in creating the company’s culture. Seeing the corporate side of the restaurant industry was an amazing and enlightening experience.”

Besides getting a behind-the-scenes peak at the restaurants and the corporation, what really made the trip wonderful for the students were the people they met there.

“Everyone at Darden was very helpful and willing to share whatever information they could. It was really nice to see how Darden runs at a corporate level and get to experience their different restaurants,” Joe Bonanno said.

“The people were so passionate about their jobs, and they made me want to be just as happy with my job,” Lynn Vogan said.

The trip was clearly a success and HRM hopes to continue these student visits with one hotel tour and one restaurant tour each year based on funding. It’s a great opportunity that students are offered.

“I’m thankful to be given this opportunity from the school and Darden,” said Victoria Cuccinello.