As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 18, 2003.

                             Washington, D.C. 20549

                                    FORM 8-K

                                 CURRENT REPORT
                     Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the
                         Securities Exchange Act of 1934

                Date of Report (Date of earliest event reported):
                                February 18, 2003

                            Darden Restaurants, Inc.
             (Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

      Florida                          1-13666                  59-3305930
(State or other jurisdiction    (Commission file number)       IRS employer
    of incorporation)                                       identification No.)

                 5900 Lake Ellenor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32809
                    (Address of principal executive offices)

               Registrant's telephone number, including area code:
                                 (407) 245-4000

                                 Not Applicable
          (Former name or former address, if changed since last report)

Item 5.           Other Events.

                  On February 18, 2003, the Company issued a news release
                  entitled "Darden Restaurants Announces Third Quarter Financial
                  Outlook," a copy of which is being filed herewith as Exhibit

Item 7.           Financial Statements and Exhibits.

                  (c) Exhibits.

                      Exhibit Number
                      (by reference to
                      Item 601 of
                      Regulation S-K)     Description

                           99             Press Release dated February 18, 2003,
                                          entitled "Darden Restaurants Announces
                                          Third Quarter Financial Outlook."



     Pursuant to the  requirements  of the Securities  Exchange Act of 1934, the
Registrant  has duly  caused  this  Report  to be  signed  on its  behalf by the
undersigned hereunto duly authorized.

Dated:  February 18, 2003                        DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC.

                                             By: /s/ Paula J. Shives
                                                 Paula J. Shives
                                                 Senior Vice President
                                                 General Counsel and Secretary


                                INDEX TO EXHIBITS

Exhibit Number           Description of Exhibit

         99             Press Release dated February 18, 2003, entitled "Darden
                        Restaurants  Announces Third Quarter Financial Outlook."


                                                                      EXHIBIT 99
Red Lobster(R)Olive Garden(R)Bahama Breeze(R)Smokey Bones(R)
                                                     Corporate Relations
                                                     P.O. Box 593330
                                                     Orlando, FL  32859

                                (Analysts) Matthew Stroud       (407) 245-6458
                                (Media)    Jim DeSimone         (407) 245-5192
February 18, 2003
8:00 AM EST

                          DARDEN RESTAURANTS ANNOUNCES
                         THIRD QUARTER FINANCIAL OUTLOOK

ORLANDO,  FL., Feb. 18 - Darden  Restaurants,  Inc. (NYSE:  DRI) today announced
that it expects diluted  earnings per share to be in the range of 34 to 36 cents
for its fiscal third  quarter  ending  February  23,  2003.  Total sales for the
quarter are  expected to  increase  5% to 6% and  same-restaurant  sales for Red
Lobster and Olive  Garden are  expected to be up  approximately  1% on a blended

"We knew  this was  going to be a  challenging  quarter  based  upon our  strong
performance in the third quarter of last year," said Joe Lee,  Darden's Chairman
and  Chief  Executive  Officer.  "Nevertheless,  we are  disappointed  with  our
performance because we had expected to surpass our results from last year. As we
move forward,  we know we have two of the  strongest  companies in casual dining
with Red Lobster and Olive Garden, and two exciting growth companies with Bahama
Breeze and Smokey  Bones.  We are focused on making the changes  that will allow
our Company to resume solid earnings growth."

"We expect  our third  quarter  earnings  results to be  adversely  affected  by
several factors," said Linda Dimopoulos,  Darden's Chief Financial Officer.  "As
we previously  announced,  worker's  compensation  and  insurance  costs will be
higher than anticipated this quarter. Results are also being negatively impacted
by our decision to significantly  increase  marketing expense in response to the
challenging  economic and  competitive  environment,  more severe winter weather
than expected and higher utility expense,  and planned  incremental  pre-opening
expenses  are  higher  than  prior  year  as a  result  of  the  ramp-up  of new

"We expect  combined  same-restaurant  sales  growth for Red  Lobster  and Olive
Garden for the full fiscal  year to be at the low end of our 3% to 5%  long-term
target.  However, as a result of the softer than expected third quarter results,
continued  weakness in consumer  confidence  and possible  weather  risks in the
fourth quarter,  the diluted earnings per share growth we expect for this fiscal
year has changed.  We now anticipate  that earnings per share growth this fiscal
year will be between 5% and 10%,  which is below our long-term  target.  We will
provide  additional  information in our upcoming third quarter  conference  call
scheduled for March 21, 2003 at 8:30 a.m., EST."



Darden Restaurants,  Inc.,  headquartered in Orlando, FL, owns and operates over
1,200 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones restaurants with
annual sales of $4.4 billion.

Forward-looking statements in this news release, if any, are made under the Safe
Harbor  provisions  of the  Private  Securities  Litigation  Reform Act of 1995.
Certain  important  factors could cause results to differ  materially from those
anticipated by the forward-looking statements,  including the impact of changing
economic or business conditions, the impact of competition,  the availability of
favorable  credit  and  trade  terms,  the  impact  of  changes  in the  cost or
availability of food and real estate, government regulation, construction costs,
weather  conditions  and other  factors  discussed  from time to time in reports
filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.