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About Olive Garden:
is an American
specializing in Italian-American
. It is a
subsidiary of Darden
, which is
headquartered in unincorporated
of 2012, Olive Garden restaurants account for 45% of the sales generated by Darden.Olive Garden
operates more than 800 locations globally.
Olive Garden started as a unit of General
Mills Inc. The first Olive Garden was opened on
December 13, 1982, in Orlando. By 1989, there were
145 Olive Garden restaurants, making it the fastest-growing units in the General Mills restaurant division.
Olive Garden restaurants were uniformly popular, and the chain's per-store sales soon matched former sister
Lobster. The company eventually
became the largest chain of Italian-themed full-service restaurants in the United
General Mills spun off its restaurant holdings as Darden
Restaurants (named for Red Lobster founder Bill Darden), a stand-alone company, in 1995. Olive Garden is Darden's
most value oriented chain with an average 2009 check per person of $15.00 (USD) versus over $90 (USD) at
its sibling Capital
Brad Blum, a former president of Olive Garden, said that sales in
existing restaurants sharply decreased, with a 12% decline occurring at one point, even though the company was
quickly establishing new restaurants. Sandra Pedicini of the Orlando Sentinel said that "Darden reinvented the Olive
Garden in the 1990s, from a floundering chain into an industry star."
As part of a February 2011 Darden analyst conference, the parent
group announced it intended to add more than 200 Olive Garden locations in the following few
years. The announcement came after a previous
announcement that the company would be expanding into potential new international markets for the chain,
including the Middle East and Asia, due to the maturity of the North American market. The company also
announced it would begin licensing franchising partnerships, a new direction for the chain and its parent
which had traditionally relied on expansion via company owned locations exclusively.
Parent company Darden also announced it was going to
begin co-locating Olive Garden and sibling chain Red Lobster
locations. The new format stores are designed for smaller market locations and will have separate entrances
and dining areas but operate a single kitchen and support areas. The dining areas of the new format will be
half the standard area found in more traditional Darden chains, but the actual building will be larger than
stand alone operations of the chain. Menus will also remain separate, with customers only able to order from
the location they are seated in. In 2014, Darden Restaurants announced
intentions to sell Red Lobster, therefore closing two Olive Garden and Red Lobster co-locations in Georgia
and South Carolina, and converting the remaining four co-locations into stand-alone Olive Garden
In 2010, Olive Garden generated $3.3 billion in sales. Its
closest competitor, Carrabba's Italian Grill, had
generated $650.5 million in sales during the same year. By 2012, sales had decreased at Olive Garden. At the
final quarter of 2011, sales at established Olive Garden locations had decreased by 2.5%. Chris Muller, the dean
of the hospitality school of Boston
University and a former restaurant professor at
the University of Florida, said
"What does Olive Garden stand for now? I don't know what it stands for." The Darden president and chief operating
officer, said that Olive Garden at that point was "a beloved, but somewhat expected brand." The company unveiled a three course meal
for $12.95 offer in an effort to try to stop the decline.
In 2011, Olive Garden implemented a mandatory tip-out program
which enabled them to cut more employees' hourly wage to $2.13 an hour. In October 2012, Olive Garden became one
of the first national restaurant chains to test converting most of its staff to part-time, aiming to limit
the cost of paying for health care benefits for full-time employees.
On July 9, 2014, Olive Garden launched a new logo and restaurant
design. This included the addition of online
ordering and smaller lunch portions.
Olive Garden Properties For Sale Across the United