Dave Pickens was named President of Red Lobster in June 2011, more than 38 years after beginning his career with Red Lobster as an hourly employee. Dave, who is also a member of Darden Restaurants' Operating Team and Executive Team, leads a company with more than 690 restaurants, 60,000 employees and $2.5 billion in annual sales.
Dave's passion and hard work have built a strong career with Darden since he began as a Red Lobster crew member in April 1973. He progressed from Manager Trainee to General Manager, Regional Operations Manager, Director of Operations, and ultimately to a division Senior Vice President for Red Lobster, before joining Olive Garden in 1995 as Senior Vice President of Operations for the Orlando division. He was promoted to Olive Garden's Executive Vice President of Operations in September 1999 and then to President in 2004, a position he held until rejoining Red Lobster in 2011.
During his tenure with Olive Garden, Dave improved strategic focus, elevated leadership team effectiveness and enhanced the company's culture to deliver industry leading growth and profitability. His commitment to delivering a competitively superior dining experience to Olive Garden guests led to best-ever guest satisfaction results and industry-leading returns. His leadership played a key role in Olive Garden's ability to accelerate new restaurant growth while maintaining same restaurant excellence.
In 2008, Dave was named Operator of the Year by Nation's Restaurant News. He was selected for the honor from among the six chain executives who were chosen by NRN editors as recipients of the Golden Chain Awards which recognize the career achievements of multi-unit foodservice executives.
Dave is known for his collaborative work style, his strong commitment to diversity and his ability to develop people, as many employees who have worked with him have gone on to assume broader roles at Darden.
Darden is the world's largest full-service restaurant company, which owns and operates 1,800 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 restaurants in North America, and employs approximately 180,000 people who serve 400 million meals annually.
Darryl "Chip" Wade
Previously, Chip was Senior Vice President of Enterprise Operations for Darden. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President of Red Lobster's Liberty Division where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of nearly 100 restaurants located in seven states and the District of Columbia.
Chip spent two years away from Darden when he served as Chief Operating Officer for Legal Sea Foods, Inc. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President of Development for Smokey Bones, a former Darden concept. Chip initially joined Darden as the Director of Revitalia for Olive Garden's existing restaurants. Revitalia was part of a system-wide repositioning of the brand.
Prior to joining Darden, Chip spent 12 years with T.G.I. Fridays where he progressed through various management positions.
A founding board member of the MultiCultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, Chip is a dedicated proponent of diversity. He holds an associate's degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University's Providence Campus. He received his bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management from Widener University and a master's in business administration from the University of Texas. Additionally, in 2006, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in Foodservice Management from Johnson & Wales University.
Salli joined Red Lobster in April 2005 after serving as Senior Vice President, Culinary and Beverage at Olive Garden for four years. In that role, she led the technical and creative development of Olive Garden’s award-winning menu and wine list, bringing more approachably authentic Italian dishes and extensive selection of wine to Olive Garden guests. In 2003, her culinary team garnered a MenuMaster’s award for “Best Menu Revamp” from Nation’s Restaurant News. In February 2003, Salli received the honor of Restaurant Business’ “Menu Strategist of the Year” in the casual dining industry. That same month, she was named as one of Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Top 50 R&D Culinarians.”
Before that, Salli was Vice President of Brand Marketing, managing all local and national marketing and advertising for Olive Garden. She joined Olive Garden in 1990 as a sales promotion assistant and worked in nearly every marketing capacity at the restaurant company.
Salli is a 1987 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a degree in Communication. She earned an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology in 1992.
Salli is involved with the Women’s Foodservice Forum and participates in Darden Restaurants’ Mentor Program and Diversity Council.
Salli lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband Greg and daughter Juliana. She enjoys spending time with her family, working out and reading.
Roger Bing is Vice President of Seafood Purchasing for Darden Restaurants, the world’s largest casual dining restaurant company. He is responsible for procuring $850 million in goods from 32 countries worldwide and distributing them to more than 1700 restaurants in the United States and Canada.
Bing has been instrumental in bringing together Darden’s world-class team of protein suppliers and buyers, who provide all the seafood for the company’s six unique brands: Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and The Capital Grille. He joined Darden in 1998 as Director of Seafood Purchasing and helped develop innovative fresh fish sourcing systems and cost-saving inventory controls.
Before joining Darden, Bing spent a good part of his career overseas, particularly in Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa. He started his career as an apprentice in protein production and international trading with Union International in London, a $4 billion global protein production corporation. From there he took on positions of increasing responsibility in protein procurement/distribution and became chief operating officer and general manager of a domestic fresh seafood production and live lobster distribution company in New England.
Bing received his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science & Natural Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has held numerous leadership positions with significant industry organizations including the National Fishery Institute, the Global Aquaculture Alliance and the International Groundfish Forum.
Bing, his wife, Melissa, and their children, Jacquie and Erik, live in Orlando, Florida. He enjoys travel, running and swimming.
Diane is a proven leader with more than 28 years of HR experience in various industries, including 10 years with retail food and beverage.
Diane joined Red Lobster in June 2008 from Avery Dennison, a Fortune 500 global leader in pressure-sensitive technology and self-adhesive solutions for consumer products and label materials. She started with Avery in 1994 and held progressively responsible positions leading up to her most recent role as Vice President, HR for the company's Specialty Materials organization. Leading a staff of 28 HR professionals worldwide, Diane drove functional excellence through innovative approaches to HR services and was instrumental in implementing a global talent upgrade and retentions strategy and improved talent acquisition efforts.
Prior to Avery, Diane served in HR leadership roles with Kaiser Aluminum and S.Q.S. Properties Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Youngstown State University in Ohio and is certified (SHRM SPHR) human resources professional.