Food & Beverage

Darden CEO: Why oil hasn't helped restaurant business

Darden CEO: No lift from lower gas

Gene Lee, Darden Restaurants' chief executive, said Tuesday that lower oil prices haven't lifted the restaurant industry because they are not necessarily a primary mover of the sector.

"What really drives casual dining is discretionary income, and we need a greater increase in discretionary income to really spur on the whole industry. Not just a little decline in gas prices," Lee told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Personal income, a factor in determining discretionary income, was flat for the month of March.

U.S. crude prices have dropped more than 30 percent in the last year. However, on Tuesday they were above $60 a barrel for the first time in 2015.

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Still, Lee added he has seen a change in consumer behavior amid oil's recent decline. "We've seen consumers that do not buy on [deals], consumer that are willing to buy … an [extra] alcoholic beverage, but overall the industry hasn't seen the lift from the lower gas prices."