THE chief executive officer of Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden, has said the chain won’t lean into deep discounts to entice new customers.
But the American-Italian chain recently bought back a popular all-you-can-eat deal as inflation has many Americans tightening their belts.
Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and various other chains, has reported that sales are up 11 percent for its first fiscal quarter.
But consumers are cutting back on their restaurant spending.
For example, casual dining chains Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse saw customers order fewer alcoholic drinks and choose cheaper entrees.
Chief executive officer, Rick Cardenas, said during an earnings call that guests are being more cautious.
“Overall, we think the consumer continues to be resilient, but they seem to be a little bit more selective,” he told analysts.
Nevertheless, Darden said the company won’t lean into deep discounts to get customers ordering more.
But Olive Garden is set to bring back a popular value deal soon.
Available from September 28, the Never Ending Pasta Bowl allows guests to order unlimited quantities of their favorite pasta and sauce combinations.
At just $13.99, it represents the kind of value that cash-strapped consumers are looking for.
Those looking to spend a little extra can add their choice of meat to the meal for an additional $4.99.
Olive Garden accounts for around 45 percent of revenue for Darden.
Sales have slumped at its more premium restaurants including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Eddie V’s, and The Capital Grille.
It turns out that consumers earning more than $125,000 a year are dining out less often too.
AFFORDABLE EATING OUT
For those on a budget, Olive Garden is not the only place putting an emphasis on value.
Applebee’s is offering an unlimited deal on boneless wings.
Customers can order as many wings as they like in six different flavors, plus unlimited fries, coleslaw, and dips for $12.99.
Chili’s has a 3 For Me meal, offering an appetizer, an entree, and a drink for as little as $10.99.
The U.S. Sun recently taste-tested the Chili’s menu and gave our verdict on the meal deal.
Meanwhile, Burger King is offering a bag of food for two for just $10.