Lyn McCracken, a new director of operations in the Atlanta area, is proud of Darden’s diversity and inclusion. “Being committed to diversity is not about talk, it’s about actions, which truly do speak louder than words,” she said. “Darden supports the LGBTQ community and has demonstrated that in a multitude of ways over the years, and I’m very proud of that.”
A foodservice veteran of more than four decades, Lyn joined Darden in 2011 as an Olive Garden restaurant manager in Dunwoody, GA. A year later, she was promoted to general manager in Kennesaw, GA. In 2015, she became the general manager in Buford, GA, where she won Diamond Club, Darden’s premier distinction, in 2017 and 2018. In May of this year, she was promoted again, to director of operations.
Her secret for creating a winning restaurant culture is not a secret at all, she said. “It’s important to create a culture that embraces everyone, a place where people love to come to work. From that, you create trust, and the team members support each other, and it becomes magical.”
Her favorite part of her new job is meeting Olive Garden managers and team members. “We have people who have been part of this company for so long and truly love the company, love their work and love their accomplishments. The opportunities are endless, and it’s rewarding and exciting work. Our benefits package is incredible.”
She’s proud of her community relationships, too, especially her partnership with the local Lanier High School band, for which she recently received an award. A musician herself, Lyn plays piano, saxophone and bassoon, though she doesn’t have as much time to play these days.
Her life revolved around food even when she was a child. She grew up on a large farm in Piqua, OH, where corn, soybeans, wheat and oats were grown. “I learned to drive a tractor before a car,” she said, “and I showed livestock at local and state fairs. We even had peacocks!”
These days, she enjoys gardening and cooking and has become a vegan, along with her wife, D’Rae. “That has changed the way I cook,” she said. “It becomes a constant science project around creating great food.”
Lyn said the company’s diversity makes “a world of difference. Diversity is important because we should mirror our communities in order to engage and serve our guests. We make everyone comfortable, and everybody’s opinion counts.”