Olive Garden’s large dilemma? Cold breadsticks

Mangia? Olive Garden investor wants better food 

Mangia? Olive Yard trader wants better food

Olive Garden is making an attempt to attract far more customers with a daring publicity stunt: a limited time only Never Ending Pasta move that swiftly offered out and started displaying up for sale on eBay .

That is simply because the firm that owns Olive Backyard, Darden Eating places ( DRI ) , has some never ending issues with sluggish income and earnings. One notable Darden investor is so fed up it is demanding adjustments to make the Italian-themed foodstuff greater.

Starboard Value Associates, a organization that owns an 8.8% stake in Darden, launched a 294-panel slide display late Thursday on its Shareholders for Darden net site with several suggestions for advancement at Olive Backyard.

A lot of of the demands were your typical garden selection difficult chat from activists: fire the CEO, provide in a new board, offer non-main belongings. But Starboard also had some culinary advice. It created you ponder if Mario Batali or Giada De Laurentiis helped compose the report.

Starboard pointed out that it thinks too significantly foodstuff is becoming squandered. The agency famous that as well many breadsticks are delivered to diners at once and they speedily get chilly and stale.

olive garden breadsticks

The investment organization also explained that “the pasta is overcooked with sauce just ladled on top.” (I concur. Any excellent prepare dinner is aware of that you make the pasta al dente and complete it in the sauce!)

Ultimately, Starboard complained about how Olive Yard was starting up to set too many items on its menu that are “astonishingly far from genuine Italian lifestyle” this sort of as burgers and tapas.

The organization mentioned that Darden would be far better off adhering to the approach of competitor Brinker Worldwide ( Try to eat ) , which has located achievement over the past couple of years by concentrating all its initiatives on bettering its two main manufacturers: Chili’s and Olive Backyard garden competitor Maggiano’s.

Darden claims it is in the midst of a “brand name renaissance,” but its latest results usually are not assisting that scenario. Darden explained Friday that Olive Garden’s very same-keep income, a crucial measure of financial well being for eating places, fell in its most recent quarter, and they are not expecting much improvement this quarter.

What does Darden consider of this? President and COO Gene Lee mentioned in a assertion Friday that the firm will “remain open up minded toward all tips that assistance lengthy-time period price creation for our shareholders and improve the dining knowledge for our guests.” Lee included that it “will meticulously review” the Starboard strategy but also explained the firm was previously implementing some of the techniques Starboard proposed.

Lee additional that the company is testing the use of tablets in some of its restaurants to improve effectiveness. It truly is a go that other everyday eating chains, most notably Buffalo Wild Wings ( BWLD ) , is experimenting with as properly.

Darden did try and remember to buyers by expressing that it would use some of the proceeds from its sale of Pink Lobster chain earlier this 12 months to acquire back again a lot more stock in fiscal 2015. Darden has presently paid down some credit card debt.

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Nevertheless, investors ended up not bowled (sorry) over by Darden’s most current benefits. Shares ended up a bit decrease Friday soon after the organization, which also owns LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, noted income that topped forecasts and issued earnings direction that was better than predicted as well. And the stock is down twelve% this 12 months.

Starboard plainly is not the only investor that thinks that high quality would be far better than quantity at Olive Yard.

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