Senior Associate Counsel | Darden Restaurants
Lyndon Carter is a Senior Associate Counsel at Darden Restaurants, a full-service dining restaurant company operating more than 1,850 locations and featuring a portfolio of differentiated brands that include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V's and Bahama Breeze.
Describe your current role.
I am a Senior Associate Counsel at Darden Restaurants, and I currently supervise the Property Law Administration group (which oversees all real estate issues affecting our open restaurants) while simultaneously working in our New Restaurants group negotiating leases for new restaurant locations.
What have been some of the biggest challenges or opportunities you’ve found in your current role?
The biggest challenge has been just managing the volume of work and learning the enterprise to ensure that problems are resolved appropriately.
What is one of the most interesting projects on which you’ve worked?
Ruth’s Chris merger.
What's an interesting trend that you're seeing in your industry?
I think that shopping center parcelizations and the redevelopment of shopping centers is really interesting. Parcelizations involve taking an aging/existing center or mall that is a single parcel and subdividing it. This creates a number of issues regarding maintenance and control of certain portions of the center, and it is imperative to ensure that a declaration is prepared and approved in order to ensure alignment between the lease and the future use/redevelopment of the center.
What do you think is the key to success in your current role?
Flexibility and willingness to adapt and learn. The enterprise is continuing to adapt to changing market conditions, and my goal is to continue to provide exemplary legal service and solutions as the industry changes.
Describe your time with Lowndes.
I spent the first seven years of my career at Lowndes, beginning with a year working with Casey Cavanaugh, the late Mike Ryan, and Jon Yergler. Those three gentlemen were phenomenal mentors and really helped to pique my interest in real estate. I then worked with Gary Soles [retired] for about a year as a litigation associate. Although I never want to litigate again, I have not enjoyed working with anyone more than Gary. The balance of my time at Lowndes was spent working on real estate and leasing matters with Quino Martinez, Dale Burket, Dan McIntosh, Tim Miedona, Andrew Gluck and the late Meredith Level.
How did your time at Lowndes prepare you for future steps in your career?
Lowndes showed me how to be professional. Attorneys like Mike Ryan, Gary Soles, Dale Burket, and Meredith Level had a passion for their clients and the highest expectations of associates and themselves. I aspired to live up to those expectations.
What's one of your favorite memories of your time at Lowndes?
The firm retreats were the best. I think my favorite was when we visited Clearwater—lot of memories made there. I also liked the Tuesday breakfast meetings. I was probably one of the only people that actually looked forward to the food.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
A deal isn’t done until its done (Gary Soles).
Who inspires you?
What hobbies/activities do you enjoy outside the office?
At this point, I really enjoy spending weekends with my kids and my family. We really enjoy travelling and going to the beach, but my priority outside of the office is spending as much time as possible with my wife and kids.
What’s a great weekend look like for you?
Going to EPCOT and drinking around the world.