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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
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Darden Coors

CEO

Salad Collective, LLC

Location: Golden, CO

Founded: 2004

Industry: Restaurant

** Hall of Fame **

Darden Coors and her restaurant operation, Salad Collective LLC, has emerged from the pandemic with expansion in mind.

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the restaurant industry, and Coors lost 15% of her restaurants permanently. But Salad Collective has rebounded, and in the next five years Coors projects expanding from 65 to 200 restaurants and to $10 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

“And I don’t know that I’m dreaming big enough,” Coors said. “But more than that, I will consider it a success if we have a healthy business model, providing great jobs and careers to lots of people, serving great, better-for-you food to more guests than ever before and maintaining our values.

“I’m trying to lead from a place that values good growth where we add to our communities and where people are proud to work and guests are comfortable investing their time and resources with us. I want to give opportunities to talented people, and people who don’t know yet how talented they are. My goal is really for Salad Collective to be around 25 years from now, so what can I do now to ensure I don’t make unhealthy, short-term decisions? I don’t want to grow just to say I did and feed my own pride, I want to grow the business so that when I’m not the leader anymore, the business continues to thrive and has its own identity, personality and place in the community.”

In September, the company closed on the acquisition of another restaurant concept, Tokyo Joe’s. Coors called it her proudest moment of the last two years. The company had been pursuing a growth-through-acquisition strategy prior to COVID-19 and had just completed the integration of Snappy Salads when the pandemic hit. Immediately, growth stopped, and Coors had to focus on survival.

“That was a very tough time for everyone, with challenges on every front,” Coors said. “Those struggles haven’t ended, but they’ve eased, and my team and our brands were resilient.”

Asked about her legacy, Coors offered a unique perspective. “I am part of a prominent Colorado family with lots of history and success. My ancestors built businesses that have been around for 150 years. In light of that, I guess I think less of my own legacy than the one I inherited,” Coors said. “I want to honor the legacy of my family and its history more than my own. It will not bother me if no one remembers my name when I’m gone. It might actually embarrass me a little bit.

“I hope that my legacy is that I cared a lot about the people who work for me, that I took the time to spend with them, to see them for who they were and appreciated all they did for me and our company.”

Presented by:

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“I want to grow the business so that when I’m not the leader anymore, the business continues to thrive and has its own identity, personality and place in the community.”

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