Saturday, September 13, 2014

PAGING MARILYN HAGERTY! PAGING ROBERT IRVINE! Sure, you can just read the articles about it, but it's a lot more fun to actually page through the 294-slide presentation a major investor prepared on Olive Garden's failings, and how to fix them. Some highlights:
  • "Now Olive Garden serves dishes that are astonishingly far from authentic Italian culture, such as burgers & fries, Spanish tapas, heavy cream sauces, more fried foods, stuffed cheeses, soggy pasta, and bland tomato sauce."
  • "'Buy one entrée, take one home' and other recent promotions appear to be inconsistent with Italian culture – not to mention the extreme portion size is inconsistent with authentic Italian values and creates enormous waste."
  • "If you google 'how to cook pasta', the first step of Pasta 101 is to salt the water. How does the largest Italian dining concept in the world not salt the water for pasta?"
  • "Soup preparation: We believe Darden should bring the base in and add a few ingredients in the restaurant, not cook from scratch at each individual restaurant as it currently does, since it gets little credit from customers for its 'homemade' soups."
  • "We will no longer disregard sound nutrition. Nutrition will not be the driving force, but it will now be carefully considered while greatly improving the taste and appeal of every dish.... Portion sizes may be gradually reduced, as guests will begin to equate Olive Garden’s value proposition more with quality and excellence at fair prices, than with massive quantities of barely edible fried items, excessive cheeses, and heavy cream sauces."


  1. Thing I miss that was on their menu? Stuffed Chicken Parm, which was chicken parm with the breast stuffed with a cheese blend. Solid stuff.

  2. Adam B.4:25 PM

    Fascinating chart in there: "2013 alcohol sales as a % of total sales for casual dining restaurants"

    Bonefish 24%
    Buffalo Wild Wings 22%
    Bravo Brio Restaurant Group 18%
    Maggiano's 17%
    Carrabba's 16%
    Applebee's 15%
    Romano's Macaroni Grill 15%
    Chili's 14%
    Cheesecake Factory 13%
    Joe's Crab Shack 13%
    Outback Steakhouse 11%
    Ruby Tuesday 11%
    Texas Roadhouse 11%
    LongHorn Steakhouse 10%
    Olive Garden 8%
    Red Lobster 8%
    Red Robin 8%

  3. Not surprising to see BWW, which sells itself as a sports bar, near the top.

  4. Jordan4:36 PM

    Slides 160-170 are the best. Look how bad and lazy our promotional photographs of the ideal version of our food looks. Now look how we can't even come close to executing them in real life.

  5. Joseph Finn4:56 PM

    I'm kind of surprised Ruby is that low.

  6. Tosy and Cosh10:56 AM

    My girls LOVE the chicken gnocchi soup - nice to learn it is made in-restaurant (I always assumed it came in a big plastic bag and they just heated it up).

  7. The Pathetic Earthling2:29 PM

    Before there was Mrs. Earthling, there was a young lass I was pursuing. I helped her move and she offered to take me to an "Italian place she really liked" after. That struck me as a nice sign, of course. Then -- of course -- it was Olive Garden. Plus, her feelings were not remotely mutual.

    I don't believe I've eaten there since, but appropriately it still has the bitter taste of dashed expectations.