The Olive Garden most recently made the news as playing a part in a recruiting scandal at the University of Oklahoma. Beyond that, the Italian restaurant chain has largely been an afterthought in American diners' minds. That's why the company is revamping and relaunching its menu as a kind of last ditch effort to become relevant once more.
The Orlando Sentinel reports the company is claiming the recent changes to the menu are the biggest changes ever made within the chain. The restaurant chain that got its start in Orlando, Florida has added 20 new dishes to its offerings. The company also claims customers will be able to customize their food orders more than ever before.
New foods aren't the only way that the Olive Garden is looking to change the way its viewed by diners. Faster lunch time kitchen-to-table times are also being hyped as a way to get more business lunch customers. The restaurant chain says it understands people don't have a ton of time to eat in the middle of the day. Even during busy times, The Garden understands it needs to get meals out quicker than ever before.
Four major changes are being put front and center as a way to draw in more money and more interest for a company that used to be one of the most popular in the United States. The first change is a pasta customization option for $9.99 that allows for a mix and match of pasta and sauces. Business Insider says the company will allow for proteins like sausage for an added charge. Gluten free noodles will be offered as well.
Low calorie options are on the offing as well. Pasta restaurants are having to deal with a more health conscious environment overall. The Garden appears to hope lower calorie chicken and steak dishes will gain some popularity. The chain will also offer up a bigger emphasis on appetizers such as chicken wings while putting crab-topped chicken, salmon bruschetta, and seafood pasta premium dishes.
This last change is an attempt to take advantage of the popularity of stores like Panera Bread. If the company can find a way to shove its way back into national prominence with these changes, it could still find enough success to survive among a population eating out less.
If the changes don't work, this is likely the last gasp for the Olive Garden.