Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Olive Garden Conundrum

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 9:30 AM

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  • Flickr: marbla123
Restaurants that thrive face the same challenges as successful bands — you've got to keep cranking out the same hits night after night or else you'll hear it from the audience. The Wall Street Journal beautifully captures the challenge faced by Olive Garden every time it attempts to alter its menu. The idea is that a chain built for the common man can't suddenly get all fancy on that common man and serve things like, say, gnocchi. In other words, how do you remake your dishes without making it seem like you're rocking the gravy boat?

So, when it comes to dishes that are a mishmash, rehash of the same basic ingredients (pick sauce, cheese and "soft" pasta), it's a diner or chef question. Are the fat and sugar cravings of Olive Garden's diners really driving the future of chain food? Or are the Friday night diners not being given enough credit because of the (potentially insulting but quite possibly true) assumption by corporate chefs and marketers that eaters aren't ready for dramatic changes?

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