The Top Five Ways Olive Garden Needs to Get Its Act Together
This has been a bad week for Olive Garden. First, its new "Never Ending Pasta Pass" promo has been poked at -- or outright kicked -- by almost everyone on earth (Jimmy Kimmel's poke was particularly hilarious) and then Olive Garden investor Starboard Value slaps the chain with a nearly 300-page book on how the company is fucking up everything they possibly could -- and at least some of the problems reported are legit.
Here's a list of the top five ways that Olive Garden needs to get its act together. Get your poop in a group, Olive Garden!
5. Stop selling shitty booze -- or at least be real about it.
The Starboard slide-show manifesto bluntly points out that Olive Garden takes in a measly 8 percent of its sales from alcohol, while other Italian chains more than double that number.The Starboardians have suggestions for improvement, such as advertising the fact that OGeven sells booze, adding more craft beers, training staff to sell more alcoholic beverages, hiring sommeliers for busy stores, and offering better happy-hour specials.
Okay, so perhaps the first two are legit, but the underlying problem with Olive Garden alcohol sales is that the house wine is overpriced swill a step down from even Two-Buck Chuck (the servers are probably embarrassed to push it on customers), and no self-respecting sommelier without gambling debts or mental issues would take an OG job. As far as an improved happy hour, Olive Garden couldn't give away the even-more-overpriced house froufrou cocktails that make up most of the bar menu.
My tip? Drop the prices or raise the quality, and since OG isn't known for quality, just drop the prices.
4. Olive Garden's television ads are lame.
The whole cheesy-ass "When you're here, you're family" advertising dreck was awful from the jump, and it's a good thing investors had the himmy-hoos to point that out to OG, because somebody needed to get slapped out of the nineties. But the big question here is what to replace it with? What sort of television ads would authentically represent what the chain is about and why people should pay to eat there?
If it were up to me, I'd run far fewer ads, but they would be tragically honest and do what Olive Garden does best: appeal to the folks who want a wackload of cheap pasta and breadsticks and are lightweight drinkers who can't tell a fine vintage from a bucket of bathtub gin.
And for good measure, bring in a celeb spokesperson, someone who appeals to the masses -- like Paul Reiser (he's probably free at the moment).
3. Maybe pick quantity over quality?
The quickly-infamous "Never Ending Pasta Pass" that Olive Garden debuted last week (the passes sold out in under an hour) is a perfect example of the chain getting something right: understanding and exploiting American consumers' insatiable lust for everything they want fast, cheap and unlimited. It's adorable but ridiculous when Olive Garden takes steps to front like it's fine dining, but it's doubtful anyone buys it. Embracing its lowbrow-but-accurate identity with the pasta-pass promo has gotten the desired attention. Hopefully this promo will spawn similar offers.
Yes, offering diners a children's wading pool filled with noodles and a jug of house hooch is an idea as tacky as all cattywampus, but it's as close to an honest deal as OG has presented in a long time.
For more reasons why Olive Garden needs to get it together, read on.Next Page