Orlando-based Darden Restaurants today [Thursday] reported that its operating company has entered into an agreement to acquire nine Grady’s restaurant locations in Florida and Georgia from subsidiaries of Quality Dining, Inc.

The Boards of Directors of both Darden and Quality Dining approved the agreement in December.

Joe Lee, Chairman & CEO, commented: “This agreement fits our strategic plan very well.

“These are premium sites in well-established trade areas and they allow us to quickly penetrate the Southeast with our Smokey Bones BBQ Sports Bar concept in a meaningful way. We’re very pleased with the agreement.”

The proposed acquisition consists of six owned and three leased sites. They are located in Plantation, Ft. Myers, Brandon, Boca Raton, and Miami, Florida, and Dunwoody, Duluth, Kennesaw, and Alpharetta, Georgia. Assuming the transaction closes as planned, Darden intends to convert eight of the nine locations to Smokey Bones BBQ Sports Bar restaurants and use the Miami site for a Red Lobster restaurant. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the spring of 2002.

Darden Restaurants owns and operates Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones BBQ Sports Bar restaurants.