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A Charitable Chophouse

What is the Real History Behind Longhorn’s Success?
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A Snowy Start

  Longhorn Steakhouse hasn’t always been as successful as it stands today. In January of 1982, Georgia was hit with an abbliterating snow-storm with four inches of snow, leaving numerous people stranded at work, roads, and highways. For Southerners, four inches of snow was a bizarre phenomenon — but for Longhorn, it was a legendary business opportunity that took off with the help of some simple yet ingenious business tactics. George McKerrow, the founder of Longhorn, offered drinks for only a dollar during the snowstorm. This attracted hundreds of deserted bypassers, producing about seven hundred dollars in revenue from drinks alone. Now, forty years later, the steakhouse has nearly over five hundred locations in close to four hundred fifty cities. Longhorn has since carved out a memorable reputation as one of the best casual steakhouses in the U.S, eclipising from its humbling origins in Atlanta.

 

Darden’s Endowments

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Darden Inc, Longhorn’s parent company, has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charity since 1995. To help combat the ongoing problems of world hunger, Darden Resturarants, including Longhorn, partnered with Feeding America to enhance mobile food pantry programs in areas necessitated, as well as communities of color. Through a $500,000 grant from Darden, five Feeding America food banks received a 26-foot-long refrigerated box truck to help increase access to nutritious food and address transportation needs. To identify food banks that serve people of color, the locations receiving the gifts include Feeding The Galley Food Bank in Midland, GA, Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana in Shreveport, LA, Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis, Tenn, San Antonio Food Bank in San Antonio TX, and Second Harvest of Central Florida in Orlando, FL. These efforts go hand-in-hand with Darden’s Harvest Program. Each day, every Darden Restuarant collects surplus, wholesome food that is not served to guests and prepares it for donation to local nonprofit partners. Since its inception, more than one hundred twenty million pounds of food (over one hundred million meals) have been donated to the Harvest Program, emphasizing the impact of Longhorn’s significant role as a Darden company. 

PR Newswire

Darden Dimes 

In addition to contributing to communities, Darden is just as passionate about ensuring financial stability and care towards their employees. Darden Dimes is an emergency assistance fund that gives employees the option to extract ten cents out of their paycheck every two weeks, or weekly in Longhorn’s case. This extra money helps team members in case of a house fire, car accident, or any other sudden extremity to help cover potential medical bills or other costs. 

   In 2016, when a sudden death left Server Karen Cooper’s daughter a widow and her young grandson without a father, the Longhorn Steakhouse team rallied to help the family push through an exceedingly dark time. Deanna Lance, another server at Longhorn Steakhouse in Thomasville GA, stated the death “crushed her heart”, and organized a barbecue to help cover some expenses. Deanna began selling nine dollar raffle tickets around the community for barbecued chicken plates as well as beans, salad, and cookies, with Longhorn quick to assist by providing cooking for the event. Darden Dimes then submitted a five hundred dollar grant towards the cause. Altogether, the team helped raise about two thousand four hundred dollars. Karen was left utterly obliged and decided to express her appreciation by presenting Deanna with an angel carved pendant. Her gratitude also extended out to Darden Dimes, as the employee-funded program has now aided thousands of team members and families during their most tragic times. 

 

Longhorn’s Legendary Cuisine: A Firsthand Review

 My personal experiences at Longhorn Steakhouse in Fleming Island, Florida have been consistently five star worthy. Indulged by its influential history and donations, I was pleasantly surprised to see my experience live up to its reputation.

   With an interior composed of a family-friendly casual dining atmosphere, the entryway is accommodated with a number of wood-paneled seats and benches. Longhorn’s decor fits a cabin-lodge aesthetic booming with country music, and cow-skulls adorning its stone walls. Each booth consists of wooden tables with dusty red colored seats, accompanied by dimly lit lamps attached to the wall. Longhorn even has three larger family-sized booths fit for about six or seven people. To ensure family satisfaction, Longhorn is very compliant with booster chairs, slings, and highchairs for small children in order to guarantee their most comfortable and untroubled experience.  

Around five o’clock p.m Saturday evening, it was flooding with other guests. Despite the chaotic rush hour, the staff was very attentive and was able to seat us within about fifteen minutes. My server, Brett, was vastly welcoming and provided exceptional service. Additionally at times, you will see the managers float around Longhorn to keep an eye out for anyone in need of assistance, asking for what they can do to improve the experience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     When it was time to order, I requested Longhorn’s Spicy Chicken Bites for an appetizer, arguably one of the most stunning appetizers I had ever tasted. They were delectable golden-brown bite-sized chicken pieces generously glazed with a chili-ginger sauce, finally topped with fresh lettuce and diced tomato for $8.00.

For my main course, I ordered the LH Burger with Coca-Cola to drink. The LH Burger is composed of a thick, half-pound patty grilled to your liking, with lettuce, onion, tomato, your choice of cheese, pickles and Applewood smoked bacon for $15.25. For my sides, I requested French Fries and Longhorn’s Steakhouse Mac and Cheese. I can confidently say the Steakhouse Mac and Cheese was my favorite dish of the night, with four different types of cheese to ensure a creamy blend and velvet-like texture. The rich, tasteful flavoring was especially prominent with the smoked paprika. To add, the French Fries were also delicious; not too thinly sliced in which  I have typically chastised other restaurants for, as well as lavishly seasoned.

 For dessert, I was tremendously excited for one of Longhorn’s star dishes, the Chocolate Stampede. The Chocolate Stampede features a chocolate cake covered in rich chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate shavings, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. The meal was exquisite, enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. The dessert totals about $10, but ultimately worth it for the substantially-sized explosion of chocolate. 

 Overall, Longhorn Steakhouse is the perfect place to stop by for all ages. Looking for a place to relax, wind down and enjoy a fresh, juicy steak? Grab your family and swing by! 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/darden-restaurants-helps-feeding-america-food-banks-in-five-states-add-mobile-food-pantries-to-serve-communities-in-need-301216345.html

https://www.darden.com/our-impact/communities/giving-back/longhorn-server-flooered-by-help-from-team-darden-dimes

 






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About the Contributor
Hi! I'm Maddie, and I am a senior at FIHS. This is my first year as a journalist for Golden Times, and I am excited to explore the different events at our school and write about them. A little about me is that I am a Productions head for Interact Club, the Community Coordinator of AP Student Council, and I have enjoyed writing since I was able to spell. I  spend most of my time working on short stories for writing contests, working, and hanging out with friends.
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