Olive Garden May Be Getting Rid of This Never-Ending Menu Item For Good
The chain last ran the promotion in 2019.
Olive Garden has long maintained and attracted diners with its claim-to-fame specialty that includes unlimited Italian-style salad, soup and hot, garlicky breadsticks with any entree.
It would make sense to assume that the loyal Olive Garden customer is a fan of unlimited food, a concept that seems archaic in the American food landscape where so many chains and restaurants are turning to health-focused offerings.
Thus from this was born Olive Garden’s Never-Ending Pasta bowl, a yearly promotion that last ran in 2019, which offered interested patrons unlimited servings of pasta with select sauces and topping beginning at the low price of $10.99.
The chain also offered options for a limited number of fans to pay $100 for unlimited pasta for nine weeks and an even smaller subset to pay $400 for unlimited pasta for life.
Thanks to pandemic related closures and regulations, the in-store promo for one-time diners didn’t run — and according to the chain’s parent company’s CEO, it looks like it might not return at all.
"We know [the Never-Ending Pasta promotion] was a negative impact over the years but the profitability wasn't as high as the guests that we're doing today,” said Darden Restaurants CEO Rick Cardenas. “So we decided to reduce the dependency on Never-Ending Pasta Bowl this year because we didn't need to drive volume into our restaurants.”
Olive Garden currently runs around 879 locations, with 28% of its business coming from take-out orders in the company’s most recent quarter. Same-store sales over the same time period were also up 5% year over year.
“As we look forward, we don't know if we'll bring and when we'll bring Never-Ending Pasta Bowl back because we have a never-ending abundance every day with our never-ending first course,” Cardenas said, nodding to the chain’s trademark offerings.
Darden Restaurants is also the parent company to chains LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster.
The company was up 27.64% year over year as of Tuesday morning.