James Kotas is leaving FCCI Insurance Group to lobby for Darden Concepts Inc., a national restaurant chain with brands that include The Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Olive Garden.
He becomes manager of state and local government relations for 23 eastern states. The department will comprise three employees, including Kotas’ counterpart on the West Coast.
“It was a job opportunity that was too hard to turn down,” Kotas said.
The new job begins next week. Kotas plans to move to Tampa initially, but eventually to Orlando, where Darden is headquartered.
“You’re dealing with a lot of complex issues,” Kotas said.
“You’ve got labor laws. Because of all the locations, you’ve got to deal with real estate. You deal with licensing for alcohol, food and beverage. You’ve got state, federal and you’ve got local ordinances to deal with. Tax implications.”
Kotas joined FCCI about 3 1/2 years ago, as a government relations specialist.
Earlier, Kotas was chief of staff to Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Dana Young when she served in House leadership.