Darden Restaurants cutting health insurance for about 1,000 US employees because they did not work an average of 30 hours weekly over the past year; employees covered in the past, but company says it's now forbidden to do so under Obamacare

ORLANDO, Florida , October 21, 2013 () – Some Darden Restaurants workers will no longer be eligible for company health insurance next year.

About 1,000 employees nationwide who were eligible for Darden's traditional health plan won't qualify because they did not work an average of 30 hours weekly over the past year. The Orlando-based owner of chains such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster employs more than 200,000 people.

Starting in 2015, Obamacare will require large companies to offer insurance to employees working an average of at least 30 hours a week. Darden said that has always been the threshold for its insurance plan, but it had allowed about 1,000 workers who fell under to stay covered. Now that state health-insurance exchanges are available under Obamacare, Darden said those workers have other options. Darden said many might end up paying less under the exchanges if they qualify for government subsidies.

Darden said in an email some workers may be able to rack up more than 30 hours next year "when the needs of the business and that individual's availability align."

Darden will no longer offer part-timers limited-benefit insurance because Obamacare forbids it. Darden said it will offer other programs to part-timers such as a bundle of discounts on prescriptions, and cash payments for services such as doctor's visits.

Smokey Bones names new operations SVP

Restaurant veteran Robin Muller has joined Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill as senior vice president of operations.

Muller most recently held senior operations posts at California Pizza Kitchen and Romano's Macaroni Grill.

Tom Porfiris, previously director of operations for the casual dining chain, has been promoted to senior director of operations.

Schmidt joins design teamat Darden Restaurants

Anna Schmidt, who has run Schmidt Design Studio in Orlando for a decade, is now manager of interior design for Darden Restaurants. She started her new job last week.

Schmidt's design studio will stay open to complete its current projects.

Schmidt was the design manager for new construction at Darden's Olive Garden from 1999 to 2003, helping to shape the chain's Tuscan design.

She also has done consulting work for the company.

Her Schmidt Design Studio has worked on restaurants including Cask & Larder, Cocina 214 and First Watch.

Matilda's on Parkunder new management

A few months after opening, Matilda's on Park has new management.

Ryan Smith, a general manager of the restaurant who helped open it earlier this year, is no longer involved in it, said Scott Bender, a marketing consultant for the Park Avenue restaurant in Winter Park.

Christina Scott is the new general manager.

The restaurant has a new executive chef and most of the staff has been replaced, Bender said. Scott could not be reached for comment. Bender said.

Matilda's is on Park Avenue across from St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. Before Matilda's, the space churned through five restaurants in a decade.

Millenia Krispy Kreme reopens next week

The Krispy Kreme Millenia Doughnut Factory at 4080 Millenia Blvd., will reopen Oct. 29.

It was closed in the fall after a fire.

The completely renovated and remodeled shop of approximately 4,800 square feet features the company's new interior and exterior design.

It will also start serving new espresso drinks.

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