It is no secret that Olive Garden’s sales have been plummeting over the past three years and in a new twist to try and earn back customers this chain is taking a new approach with it’s breadsticks. These breadsticks garnered attention last year when an investor company proclaimed that too many breadsticks were hitting the tables. According to Olive Garden’s breadstick policy; each table is to receive the number of breadsticks as people at that table, plus one. Starboard Value; the investment company that is making changes to the restaurant wants to get back to proper breadstick techniques. What came off as an attack of the breadsticks was a misunderstanding according to Jeff Smith of Starboard Value. Smith even went so far as to tell the world that he in fact loves unlimited breadsticks.
In keeping with that proclamation the restaurant chain is now turning their breadsticks into sandwich bread. Starting on June 1st Olive Garden will be using a slighter shorter and wider breadstick for their chicken parmigiana and meatball sandwiches. Considering America’s obsession with breadsticks it is imagined these will only further boost sales. Sales at Olive Garden were up 3% to in the first quarter of 2015; the first time in three years.
The chain is also pulling back on discounts and offering more add-on’s to customers which is helping to boost sales. With an emphasis on desserts and alcohol sales customers are opening up their wallets and spending more. Chains like the Olive Garden have been hit hard with competition such as the Chipotle, who offers a better fast food option.
Although customer traffic is still down over the brand as a whole, Olive Garden is hoping that America’s obsession with breadsticks will boost sales, increase traffic and allow this once very successful restaurant to become number one once again.