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Restaurant industry sees positive sign with wage increase, bonuses to Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse employees

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The restaurant industry is seeing some signs that it may be beginning a recovery due to the damage done from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, Darden Restaurants who owns several restaurant chains including Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, announced two new hourly restaurant team member investments.

The company is investing approximately $17 million to provide a one-time bonus for nearly 90,000 hourly restaurant team members. Eligible team members must have worked a minimum of 130 hours during the third quarter (Nov. 30, 2020-Feb. 28, 2021) and bonus amounts will range from $100-$300 depending on average weekly hours over the 13-week period. The bonus will be paid on April 2.

Second, beginning Monday, March 29, every hourly restaurant team member will earn at least $10 per hour, which includes tip income. Darden also stated that they will be increasing minimum pay to $11 an hour in January 2022 and $12 an hour in January 2023.

Since March 2020, the company has invested more than $200 million in programs benefiting team members such as Paid Sick Leave, COVID-19 Emergency Pay, $10/day additional pay to help cover transportation and other costs, as well as covering benefits deductions for team members who were furloughed when dining rooms were closed. The investments also included providing up to four hours of paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Darden’s stock has been rising as of late (up 2.82% on Friday alone) due to strong third quarter numbers.

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