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Olive Garden to Revamp Restaurants Amid Sales Slump: Are You a Fan?

Living 2012/01/26 18:37:10
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Love the breadsticks at Olive Garden? You may be part of a slowly dwindling group of fans. Amid slipping sales, the nation's largest Italian food chain will remodel its restaurants and revamp the menu, adding lower-priced dishes, The Chicago Tribune reports.



According to former fans, the famous breadsticks seem more doughy now, and the salads appear to have fewer tomatoes and olives. "The whole Olive Garden experience has deteriorated, in my opinion," Carole Kelley, 73, a retired quality-control engineer, told the paper.

Part of the problem seems to be that Olive Garden hasn't made any changes in a while. Last month, Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Olive Garden's parent company, Darden, said Olive Garden has become "a beloved, but somewhat expected brand," according to the Tribune. To shake things up, the long-running ads targeting families will be replaced.

Last quarter, sales at Olive Garden were down 2.5 percent; sales at main rival Carrabba's Italian Grill were up. Of course, the economy plays a role -- casual dining isn't doing as well as it had been, with more families cutting back -- but we wonder if Olive Garden has lost its magic. Are you a fan? Or do you think Olive Garden is on the way out?
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Top Opinion

  • kgiexec 2012/01/26 19:45:11
    Yes!
    kgiexec
    +10
    I'm a fan of Olive Garden but they are experiencing the same flaw that eventually gets all chain restaurants: Does anyone remember Grandy's? Great fast food chicken place, with grandma as a hostess, great food, great service, now nationally they are hell holes, poor food, poor service, often filthy and dilapidated. How does this happen? These restaurants debut with great food, great vision, great service. Then out of greed of investors because most of these places go public, there is this push to increase the bottom line profit. Well there is only a few ways to do this: on the good side, increase customers. Well if the restaurant is any good, max customers are already as high as it is going to go without opening more restaurants. So they open more. Then once they've expanded as far as they can go, what is left to cut? Labor and food cost. Then managers start cutting back on shifts, start trying to make minor cuts hear and there on the food. Like what if we only put 2 olives in our salad instead of 4? Then over a period of time you find that the restaurant is but a mere portion of what it used to be and then the business goes away. It all comes down to greed. If you open something great, keep it great, and be satisfied with the money that it does bring in and stop...
    I'm a fan of Olive Garden but they are experiencing the same flaw that eventually gets all chain restaurants: Does anyone remember Grandy's? Great fast food chicken place, with grandma as a hostess, great food, great service, now nationally they are hell holes, poor food, poor service, often filthy and dilapidated. How does this happen? These restaurants debut with great food, great vision, great service. Then out of greed of investors because most of these places go public, there is this push to increase the bottom line profit. Well there is only a few ways to do this: on the good side, increase customers. Well if the restaurant is any good, max customers are already as high as it is going to go without opening more restaurants. So they open more. Then once they've expanded as far as they can go, what is left to cut? Labor and food cost. Then managers start cutting back on shifts, start trying to make minor cuts hear and there on the food. Like what if we only put 2 olives in our salad instead of 4? Then over a period of time you find that the restaurant is but a mere portion of what it used to be and then the business goes away. It all comes down to greed. If you open something great, keep it great, and be satisfied with the money that it does bring in and stop trying to make even more. Be satisfied at some point. But no, people can't figure this out so that creates opportunities for new businesses to hit the market and become the latest and greatest. And then the cycle repeats itself.
    (more)

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Opinions

  • katie 2012/01/30 19:25:03
    Yes!
    katie
    I love Olive Garden. Unfortunately we do not have one in Fairbanks, AK...so I can never go..
  • Klutzey 2012/01/30 15:18:46
    Yes!
    Klutzey
    Just don't change the breadsticks lol
  • Cathy 2012/01/30 13:33:12
    Yes!
    Cathy
    Yes, I am still a fan, but I don't go as much as I use to, I have cut back on everything. I dine out once a month.
  • Jim 2012/01/30 07:54:59
    No
    Jim
    Fill me with salad and bread sticks and then give me an eye droppers worth of pasta. No so much.

    Olive Garden Funny
  • Alvin 2012/01/30 00:29:47
    No
    Alvin
    +2
    The last three times we went to out local Olive Garden they managed to come up with curdled Alfredo sauce, overcooked medallions of beef, the wrong entree and a salad bowl that was so small, it would not make two decent salads. Needless to say, I will wait until after their "makeover" before I try to get a good meal there.
  • Joe C Sr 2012/01/29 23:58:50
    Yes!
    Joe C Sr
    +1
    Seems to be getting a little pricey lately but the food is good especially if you are Italian.
  • Aqua Surf BTO-t-BCRA-F 2012/01/29 22:36:01
    No
    Aqua Surf BTO-t-BCRA-F
    +2
    If we want Italian food and I mean GREAT Italian food, our family goes to a family owned restaurant that has been in business since the 1940"s. Who cares if it's mob-owned? Our oldest daughter twirled her first spaghetti on a fork in her highchair and drew an admiring crowd. Olive Garden is fake Italian as far as I'm concerned.
  • Artist~PWCM~ 2012/01/29 21:07:43
    No
    Artist~PWCM~
    +2
    The Olive Garden of a few years ago was very good. Now they are way over priced, the portions are too small, the salad sucks (and that's mainly why we went there) and frankly the food isn't what it used to be.
  • EastIndianFemme 2012/01/29 19:06:12 (edited)
    Yes!
    EastIndianFemme
    +1
    Thanks Olive Garden to introducing me to the dessert: Tiramsui....still love it!!

    tiramsui
  • TasselLady 2012/01/29 19:04:41
    Yes!
    TasselLady
    +1
    I hope they keep their restaurants open. I've always liked the Olive Garden.
  • I am the Don Dada 2012/01/29 18:40:31
    No
    I am the Don Dada
    +2
    Not that I don't like them but it's the same old thing every time I dine there. I prefer Carrabas and Macaroni Grill
  • Angela Chambers 2012/01/29 18:20:47
    Yes!
    Angela Chambers
    +2
    Love it!! They have the best pasta.

    love pasta
  • Dr.CleoDactyl 2012/01/29 17:07:43
    Yes!
    Dr.CleoDactyl
    +1
    ..omnomnom bread sticks olive garden
  • dogs voice 2012/01/29 16:52:31
    Yes!
    dogs voice
    +1
    Just went to one last week. Would like to see larger portions of their entrees based on the prices chaged, but then the salad, soup and breadsticks are great.
  • Mattie 2012/01/29 16:02:11
  • stowles 2012/01/29 15:25:39
    Yes!
    stowles
    +1
    but i stick to what I know is usually good, sometimes their new items are so-so...but i love the breadsticks and salad
  • Karl 2012/01/29 06:49:25
    No
    Karl
    +3
    I haven't been to Olive Garden lately, but my last experience was comprised of high prices, low selection, and tacky decor. The service was really great though.
  • Jdogg 2012/01/29 06:26:54
    Yes!
    Jdogg
    +1
    The one in my town is always busy, and on the weekends at night there is a line.
  • snarksteronline 2012/01/29 03:07:04
    Yes!
    snarksteronline
    +1
    When I'm at Olive Garden, I'm family.
  • WOODMAN34 2012/01/29 02:44:47
    Yes!
    WOODMAN34
    +1
    We travel a lot and when out of town we will stop at the local Olive Garden. We know that we will get a fine meal at a decent price. We have never had bad service nor a bad meal. We have been in an Olive Garden in just about every state east of the Mississippi river and 3 or 4 west. I will continue to go and hope that they build more. My favorite is the pasta.
  • jeni 2012/01/29 02:43:25
    No
    jeni
    +2
    I used to be a fan, but they have gone downhill over the past few years that I refuse to eat there anymore
  • Becca 2012/01/28 21:15:06
    No
    Becca
    +1
    Well, I can't say yes, and I can't say no, because to be honest I've never eaten at Olive Garden before.
  • jere.chievres 2012/01/28 17:27:59 (edited)
    No
    jere.chievres
    +1
    They are not as good as a small Mom & Pop Place to eat. I lived in Europe for many years, even German Italian Restaurants are by far Superior to Olive Garden, and German Cuisine is better Yet along with Czech, Thai ,Indian and Serbian food.
  • Maci 2012/01/28 16:24:44
  • jere.ch... Maci 2012/01/28 17:43:11
    jere.chievres
    +1
    Most Corporate restaurants are like that .
  • WOODMAN34 Maci 2012/01/29 02:39:33
    WOODMAN34
    +1
    If its so bad why do you go back?
  • stowles Maci 2012/01/29 15:35:01
  • Frank 2012/01/28 15:36:39
    Yes!
    Frank
    +2
    My mom and grandparents are full blood Italian, so I definitely like Italian food. They taught my wife how to make Ravioli's, and Spaghetti sause the right way, and an Italian salad to die for. So having said that Olive Garden needs to pick up some new menu items and serve the old fashion way......
  • Grizzled Alaskan 2012/01/28 13:45:48
    Yes!
    Grizzled Alaskan
    +2
    We just got our first one up here in the frozen North. And despite the temps in the -10 to -15 F people were still standing in line around the building. I was recently in Florida and the one we went to near Orlando was the same. Had to wait almost 1 1/2 hours. But it was worth it.
  • Maci Grizzle... 2012/01/28 17:32:45
  • Grizzle... Maci 2012/01/28 20:22:10
    Grizzled Alaskan
    +2
    Yep. We were in "amusement park" mode and accustomed to standing in line. And besides, the wife loves the place.
  • Maci Grizzle... 2012/01/28 20:24:36
  • Grizzle... Maci 2012/01/28 20:42:04
    Grizzled Alaskan
    +2
    Yeah perhaps. Thought about it...after the fact. As they say in France...C'est la vie.
  • Donna Wolf 2012/01/28 12:27:06
    Yes!
    Donna Wolf
    +3
    Of their soup and salad...not so much their pasta! olive garden soup and salad
  • Kevin1111 2012/01/28 07:40:56
    No
    Kevin1111
    +2
    No thanks, I don't like watery pasta.
  • Biki~pwcm/potl~ 2012/01/28 06:46:15
    Yes!
    Biki~pwcm/potl~
    +1
    I haven't noticed a problem with the bread sticks and I always get the soup, not the salad, but my husband always does and hasn't noticed it being "cheaper" with the ingredients. Unless something drastically changes, I will always be a fan.
  • James 2012/01/28 04:46:42
    No
    James
    +2
    Maggiano's puts Olive Garden to shame....
  • vinone 2012/01/28 04:21:56
    Yes!
    vinone
    +1
    I love salad...
  • ART 2012/01/28 03:45:10
    No
    ART
    +2
    I AM ALLEGERIC TO GARLIC. NOTHING FOR ME THERE!
  • Mr. Smith 2012/01/28 03:11:29
    No
    Mr. Smith
    +3
    YUK! God NO!!! Everything is brought in frozen, nothing fresh but the salad, and......

    yuk god frozen fresh salad

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2014/11/26 17:11:34

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