Darden Restaurants CEO Clarence Otis Jr. has a lot on his plate



The gig: Chairman and chief executive of Darden Restaurants Inc., which operates Olive Garden, Red Lobster and other sit-down casual-dining chains. Raised in Los Angeles, Otis, 54, has spent the last 15 years with the Orlando, Fla., concern and helped guide it through boom times and two recessions. He is one of the nation’s few African American CEOs who run a Fortune 500 company.

Family matters: Wife is Jacqueline Bradley, a former executive of corporate banking at SunTrust and now a stay-at-home mother. The couple have three children: Calvin, 21, and twins Allison and Randall, 18. Otis and his wife have one of the largest collections of African art in the U.S. They live in Orlando.

Favorite dish: Venetian apricot chicken at Olive Garden

In the beginning: Born in Vicksburg, Miss., Otis moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was 4, later settling in Watts. His father was a janitor, and his mom stayed home to raise Otis and his three siblings. He was 9 when the 1965 Watts riots exploded. Living in the neighborhood, Otis said, taught him to persevere in difficult situations. “I always knew that I started with a huge advantage: I had two parents, a father who worked, and there was no drug or alcohol abuse in the family.”

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