Olive Garden’s free-flowing breadstick policy is under attack by their investors, Starboard. It is an expense that needs to be curtailed as far as Starboard is concerned. Olive Garden defends the all-you-can-eat breadstick policy saying that it signifies “Italian generosity” when you dine at the eatery, according to “Fox and Friends” live on Tuesday morning Sept. 16.
Now Olive Garden has upped the ante for defending the unlimited breadsticks putting the fresh baked offerings in the same category as iconic Italian traditions such as Sophia Loren and the Coliseum, reports Fox. Sophie Loren and Olive Garden breadsticks, now that might be a stretch when making comparisons!
According to Onieda Daily Dispatch New York on Sept. 16, Darden Restaurants Inc., the parent company of Olive Garden, is rolling out a response to 300 pages of criticism from the hedge fund Starboard Value last week. The Starboard report points out all the restaurant’s short-comings like the failure to use salt in the water used for boiling pasta, which is one of the criticisms that appeared on the list.
According to MSN Money News, the report even cites the length of the asparagus the restaurant serves. As in any big chain restaurant, the serving size and amount of specific ingredients used are measured to the exact per serving. This allows the big name eateries to offer such elaborate cuisine at an economical price for customers, while still making a profit because they buy the ingredients at bulk prices.
Cutting corners, which is what limiting breadsticks would do, means more money in the profit margin for Olive Garden, claims Starboard. The restaurant sees the unlimited bread sticks as one of its main attractions and despite the detailed report that was meant to find ways to put more money in their profit margin, Olive Garden is keeping the breadsticks flowing freely.
The eatery has had an uphill battle when it comes to reeling in more customers lately. This is partially due to competition from the many new restaurants popping up offering family value dining along the same lines as Olive Garden, like Chipotle. Even with that struggle Olive Garden feels the breadsticks are an important part of their brand and doing away with them won’t help the profit margin in the long run.
Starboard said that they were only asking for Olive Garden to offer “training and discipline” around the distribution of breadsticks to customers. Servers now bring out one breadstick per customer at the table plus one extra. This sometimes leads to the waste of the extra breadstick. If someone at the table does decide to eat a second breadstick, it is cold by the time they get around to it.
Starboard makes sense, all the customer has to do is ask for extra breadstick and it is beneficial to that customer because they get a hot breadstick instead of one that has been sitting on the table for a while in the initial basket brought out. This is turn will do away with the waste if no one decides to have an extra bread stick.
Starboard also said the servers were “overfilling” the salad bowls and using “too much dressing.” While the restaurant plans to work on some of the things pointed out in Starboard’s assessment, they will not change the way they offer breadsticks.