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(Chicago Trib)   Olive Garden trying to woo health-conscious customers by offering smaller portions at the same prices   (chicagotribune.com) divider line 60
    More: Fail, Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory, Technomic Inc., Outback Steakhouse, fast casual, LongHorn Steakhouse, parmesan  
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2094 clicks; posted to Business » on 16 Sep 2013 at 2:15 AM (30 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-09-16 01:14:45 AM
That's not what "tapas" means.
 
2013-09-16 02:21:33 AM
Suckers will believe anything
 
2013-09-16 02:30:16 AM
Maggiano's and their 5000+ calorie spaghetti LOL's at this idea.
 
2013-09-16 02:47:10 AM
A smaller plate of butter and salt is still just a plate of butter and salt.
 
2013-09-16 03:18:15 AM
FTA: Cheesecake Factory Inc. has small plates including chicken samosas and fried zucchini.

Most likely for about 3 to 4 times the price that you could get the same dish for at a independent neighborhood restaurant.  The food at TCF seems overpriced to me.


FTA: Olive Garden has been struggling in the aftermath of the downturn as Americans eat out less.

It doesn't help that food at Olive Garden, in my opinion, is only a small step above what you can get in the freezer section of your supermarket.  Yet it is rare to get out of their restaurants for less than $30 after drinks, taxes and tip when dining for two.

And when you are unemployed or underemployed, you suddenly find that you have the time to prepare a meal from scratch at home for a fraction of the cost of either.
 
2013-09-16 03:30:57 AM
A half portion for 75% of the full price would be a great option at many places.
 
2013-09-16 04:12:48 AM
"Olive Garden: When you're here, you're wooed"

Wait, they changed their slogan I think...
 
2013-09-16 04:19:40 AM

Dinjiin: The food at TCF seems overpriced to me.


It's not just that to me, their entire concept seems really screwy. Just as an example for those who haven't seen one IRL, they look/feel nothing like the one in Big Bang Theory. They're horribly lit (read: craptacular mood lighting). Every time I've gone to one (twice, both my sister's choice for her birthday dinner) I had a horribly huge pain in the ass time reading the farking menu due to how dim all the lighting is... They also pack as many tables/chairs in as they possibly can (partly due to how popular they seem to be with some people I suspect, doesn't change the situation though). And their food, while fairly tasty, is overpriced [typically] by $6-10.
 
2013-09-16 07:37:22 AM
Boomers. I guess we're so fat out hearts are going to go BOOM!
 
2013-09-16 07:58:58 AM
shiatty food is shiatty in any portion for any price.

Dinjiin: And when you are unemployed or underemployed, you suddenly find that you have the time to prepare a meal from scratch at home for a fraction of the cost of either.


And THIS.  I can knock together a chicken Alfredo, from scratch, with some cheap chicken tenders and the pasta in less than 30 minutes.  Total cost for two large portions: about 6 dollars.  Flavor: Incredible.

/Fark Olive Garden with one of their cardboard 'bread sticks'.
 
2013-09-16 08:11:58 AM
It's your own fault for eating there in the first place
 
2013-09-16 08:14:30 AM
My wife and I eat out less because the quality and quantity are way less than before.

Food tastes like it was microwaved not fresh made.

And I could feed ourselves for a few days for the cost of eating out once.

Every time we go we cross off a restaurant that we won't be going back to.
 
2013-09-16 08:19:27 AM
Oh forgot to add my favorite.

The menu said rib eye but the waiter said that it was fajita meat in my wife's meal and spent 2 min telling us how the quality of the meat was still very good.

We get the bill and it says rib eye and charged us for that. I ask the waiter if there was a mistake on the bill and he says no because if its on the bill it's correct. I reminded him of our conversation and he says that while he is new he is proud that he knows the menu very well.

That was it for us, we didn't make a scene because the guy was like 60 yrs old and probably needed a job. But we won't be going out to eat any time soon
 
2013-09-16 08:29:54 AM
Don't they do that with "diet" juices.  For instance apple juice, they give you half the container with apple juice and fill the other half with water.

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just buy the regular one and water it down yourself?
 
2013-09-16 08:40:47 AM
I've never really cared for Olive Garden, but for reason my son loved it.  First off they would get coupons for good grades to the local Olive Garden.  He liked the bread sticks and cheese raviolis.  So about two or three times a year, he'd get to pick where to go and it was damned near always the farking Olive Garden.  The last time we went there, he ate about half of his meal and stopped.  He looked at us and said something to the effect this is not as good as the other places I get raviolis.  No shiat we say, that's why we never pick to come here.   So I'm glad I no longer have to get a buzzer for so we can wait for crappy food and can walk into any of a few restaurants near my house instead fighting the idiots in traffic by the mall area (where all Olive Gardens seem to live).
 
2013-09-16 08:42:08 AM
how about a fail for using a Spanish word to describe that you are doing, instead of antipasti?
 
2013-09-16 08:43:42 AM

dumbobruni: how about a fail for using a Spanish word to describe that you are doing, instead of antipasti?


Anti-pasta?  I don't think they want the public to figure out what Olive Garden is really all about!
 
2013-09-16 08:54:31 AM
Texas Roadhouse does something similar.  They have a "thin-arita" marketed as a 200 calorie drink. It is served in the same glasses and costs just as much as their other margaritas, they just don't fill the glass as full.  The thing is, it's also a unique mix of classic margarita with a dash of orange that's actually pretty good, but if you try to order a "full" one, they get all huffy and confused.
 
2013-09-16 08:59:52 AM
If the portions at the Olive Garden get much smaller, they'll just bring out a picture of the food taped to a plate.  The only reason to go to a big chain restaurant is to stuff yourself, and this is the only place I always leave hungry.  At least when I make Italian food in a half-assed manner at home, there's plenty of it.
 
2013-09-16 09:02:16 AM

wingnut396: dumbobruni: how about a fail for using a Spanish word to describe that you are doing, instead of antipasti?

Anti-pasta?  I don't think they want the public to figure out what Olive Garden is really all about!


you have to keep the pasta and anti-pasta separate, or they might cancel each other out.

/dogbert
 
2013-09-16 09:03:24 AM

StrangeQ: Texas Roadhouse does something similar.  They have a "thin-arita" marketed as a 200 calorie drink. It is served in the same glasses and costs just as much as their other margaritas, they just don't fill the glass as full.  The thing is, it's also a unique mix of classic margarita with a dash of orange that's actually pretty good, but if you try to order a "full" one, they get all huffy and confused.


weknowmemes.com
 
2013-09-16 09:09:17 AM
I love their salad. The rest of the menu seems to be based on the "365 Ways to Cook Chicken" cookbook.
 
2013-09-16 09:21:40 AM

Dinjiin: FTA: Cheesecake Factory Inc. has small plates including chicken samosas and fried zucchini.

Most likely for about 3 to 4 times the price that you could get the same dish for at a independent neighborhood restaurant.  The food at TCF seems overpriced to me.


FTA: Olive Garden has been struggling in the aftermath of the downturn as Americans eat out less.

It doesn't help that food at Olive Garden, in my opinion, is only a small step above what you can get in the freezer section of your supermarket.  Yet it is rare to get out of their restaurants for less than $30 after drinks, taxes and tip when dining for two.

And when you are unemployed or underemployed, you suddenly find that you have the time to prepare a meal from scratch at home for a fraction of the cost of either.


That is because Olive Garden add the sauce after it is microwaved, while the freezer section stuff, the sauce is typically added before.
 
2013-09-16 09:21:46 AM

1nsanilicious: My wife and I eat out less because the quality and quantity are way less than before.

Food tastes like it was microwaved not fresh made.

And I could feed ourselves for a few days for the cost of eating out once.

Every time we go we cross off a restaurant that we won't be going back to.


The bigger the restaurant/chain, the more likely it is that what you're eating is a "Sysco(tm)" food-product (or perhaps the same sort of thing from another similar company).  As far as I can tell, Sysco makes the industrial equivalent of "TV Dinners" for restaurants to unwrap, microwave/bake/fry, and throw on a plate.

I find it's still worth the effort to go looking for small independent restaurants to eat at, though. There are still some out there that are worth it.
 
2013-09-16 09:48:53 AM

Epicanis: 1nsanilicious: My wife and I eat out less because the quality and quantity are way less than before.

Food tastes like it was microwaved not fresh made.

And I could feed ourselves for a few days for the cost of eating out once.

Every time we go we cross off a restaurant that we won't be going back to.

The bigger the restaurant/chain, the more likely it is that what you're eating is a "Sysco(tm)" food-product (or perhaps the same sort of thing from another similar company).  As far as I can tell, Sysco makes the industrial equivalent of "TV Dinners" for restaurants to unwrap, microwave/bake/fry, and throw on a plate.

I find it's still worth the effort to go looking for small independent restaurants to eat at, though. There are still some out there that are worth it.




A lot of mom-n-pop places buy from SAMs Club/Costco and just re-heat.
 
2013-09-16 09:55:11 AM

Epicanis: The bigger the restaurant/chain, the more likely it is that what you're eating is a "Sysco(tm)" food-product (or perhaps the same sort of thing from another similar company).  As far as I can tell, Sysco makes the industrial equivalent of "TV Dinners" for restaurants to unwrap, microwave/bake/fry, and throw on a plate.


And you know who you'll look like after eating too many Sysco food products, don't you?

upload.wikimedia.org
 
2013-09-16 10:08:25 AM
The wife and I rarely go out for dinner anymore. It is just cheaper and healthier to eat at home. We usually eat lunch out on Saturdays when we run errands and shop. I'm a pretty competent cook and can make most food at home that is just as good as any chain restaurant. My Chinese cooking could use some work, but other than that, I hold my own.
 
2013-09-16 10:16:17 AM
The last two weekends I went to a small plate restaurant.  The key is, the smaller plates hold better food.  I'm not sure if Olive Garden can pull that off.
 
2013-09-16 10:18:01 AM
This thread is seriously lacking hospitaliano.
 
2013-09-16 10:23:41 AM
Considering 95% of their cost comes from rent, utilities, staff, and not food, this actually isn't as big of a ripoff as it sounds.
 
2013-09-16 10:28:17 AM
Chain restaurants are terrible. I used to have no problem with them, but in the last decade or so, it's just gotten ridiculous. The food is terrible and expensive, almost without exception. Most steakhouse chains can't even cook a decent steak!

The only restaurant food I still like is a good pizza made by a local pizza shop. And even that is so expensive that it's retarded.
 
2013-09-16 10:41:01 AM
HempHead:
A lot of mom-n-pop places buy from SAMs Club/Costco and just re-heat.

While I don't doubt that happens, my own experience (YMMV) has been that most of the places I've hunted down are at LEAST mixing, seasoning, and "actually cooking" (as opposed to "unwrap and microwave") the food themselves, though I wouldn't be surprised if many of them were buying the core ingredients (meat, fruits, vegetables, etc.) at a big "discount store".
 
2013-09-16 11:08:26 AM

valkore: Epicanis: The bigger the restaurant/chain, the more likely it is that what you're eating is a "Sysco(tm)" food-product (or perhaps the same sort of thing from another similar company).  As far as I can tell, Sysco makes the industrial equivalent of "TV Dinners" for restaurants to unwrap, microwave/bake/fry, and throw on a plate.

And you know who you'll look like after eating too many Sysco food products, don't you?

[upload.wikimedia.org image 596x600]


rlv.zcache.com
 
2013-09-16 11:32:33 AM

HempHead: A lot of mom-n-pop places buy from SAMs Club/Costco and just re-heat.


Finding the places that don't is a delicious challenge, but it can be done and without Yelp.
 
2013-09-16 11:32:50 AM
I liked their family platter of fettuccini alfredo they were offering a month or two ago for $24.99.  Buy a farking pound of pasta ($.99), 1-2 pints of heavy cream ($3) and add some butter and parmesan.  Add garlic onion pepper to taste, and done.  Probably tastes better than Olive Garden too.
 
2013-09-16 12:19:39 PM
FTFA...."The challenge for Olive Garden will be encouraging diners in their 20s and 30s, many of whom shun chain restaurants"

This is me.  I hope it doesn't make me a hipster or anything.  I just like supporting local business.  There are some pretty good, locally owned restaurants in my area that I'd like to see survive.  It's not like the chain restaurants are missing my business anyway.  They routinely have a 60-90 minute wait on Friday and Saturday nights.
 
2013-09-16 12:45:57 PM
A couple friends and I were talking this weekend about chain Italian restaurants. My issue with Olive Garden is that there's just never anything on the menu that really tempts me. I'm not saying it has to be exotic or appeal to some foodie sense; just more often than not, I feel like I'm uninterested (and I'm a glutton, so that's hard). My girlfriend's friend brought up a different issue with Olive Garden: her boyfriend is lactose-intolerant, and almost everything good on the menu is made with cheese.

Carrabba's is a slight step up, in some regards, though my best dishes there have been seasonal specials. They have good sangria, though. Bertucci's was mentioned, and I forget why; I know I never think to go there.

But also, I grew up with two or three good local Italian restaurants. Both are gone now, but now we have a great restaurant 15 minutes away run by a chef who grew up in Italy. So while I'm no connoisseur, I know I'm lucky to have a good option for Italian food. Some people grew up where the Olive Garden was the best choice they had.

Thank God that wasn't me.
 
2013-09-16 12:46:54 PM
They developed this idea at the Culinary Institute of Tuscany I'll bet.
 
2013-09-16 12:48:32 PM
There is not enough Olive Garden hate in this thread.  You people are slipping.
 
2013-09-16 12:49:44 PM

pacochu: The wife and I rarely go out for dinner anymore. It is just cheaper and healthier to eat at home. We usually eat lunch out on Saturdays when we run errands and shop. I'm a pretty competent cook and can make most food at home that is just as good as any chain restaurant. My Chinese cooking could use some work, but other than that, I hold my own.


If you treat her a little nicer, you might convince your wife to hold it for you occasionally,
 
2013-09-16 01:00:49 PM
We went to Italy last year and ate at small, indepedent places every where we went.  I was amazed by how good pasta or risotto could taste.  Since then, I haven't really had an urge for Olive Garden. The wife loves it, but I could go without it.  We have a nice little Italian restaurant in town whose cook studied/is from Italy, and it's about as close to Italian food as you can imagine. Sadly small and not open that often, so we don't get to go as much as we like.

pwn3d781: My girlfriend's friend brought up a different issue with Olive Garden: her boyfriend is lactose-intolerant, and almost everything good on the menu is made with cheese.

I'm lactose intolerant as well, the only 'safe' thing on their menu for me to eat is spaghetti and meatballs (no extra cheese on it...seriously, none....damnit, stop offering me cheese!)
 
2013-09-16 02:26:47 PM

DubyaHater: FTFA...."The challenge for Olive Garden will be encouraging diners in their 20s and 30s, many of whom shun chain restaurants"

This is me.   I hope it doesn't make me a hipster or anything.  I just like supporting local business.  There are some pretty good, locally owned restaurants in my area that I'd like to see survive.  It's not like the chain restaurants are missing my business anyway.  They routinely have a 60-90 minute wait on Friday and Saturday nights.


Quite the opposite.  Hipsters would bring their Italian friends to Olive Garden and ironically enjoy a "true taste of Italy" at a suburban strip mall.  Extra points if they order dishes from the region of Italy their friend is from, and they order in Italian and confuse the waiter.
 
2013-09-16 02:31:58 PM

dryknife: They developed this idea at the Culinary Institute of Tuscany I'll bet.


That's gotta be the biggest marketing sham ever.  It's like going to McDonald's in Paris and saying you had a wonderful French meal.  Technically true, but totally misleading.
 
2013-09-16 02:36:40 PM

Epicanis: HempHead:
A lot of mom-n-pop places buy from SAMs Club/Costco and just re-heat.

While I don't doubt that happens, my own experience (YMMV) has been that most of the places I've hunted down are at LEAST mixing, seasoning, and "actually cooking" (as opposed to "unwrap and microwave") the food themselves, though I wouldn't be surprised if many of them were buying the core ingredients (meat, fruits, vegetables, etc.) at a big "discount store".


I can recognize the fried cheese sticks and lasagna from Sam's Club at several non-chain resteraunts in my town.

/also the cheese cake
 
2013-09-16 03:00:23 PM
Still doesn't solve the mystery of why people are paying $14 to have a TV dinner reheated for them.
 
2013-09-16 03:15:27 PM
The massive indigestion is still free.
 
2013-09-16 03:28:41 PM
Keeping all the lights on, rent, taxes, employees etc. is your biggest overhead in a restaurant. The cost of food is generally negligible. How else would Old Country Buffet stay in business with all the land whales going there and stuffing themselves to the gills time after time?
 
2013-09-16 07:00:31 PM
Same crap food and new lower portions!
 
2013-09-16 07:36:50 PM
You rang?

blogs.altru.org
 
2013-09-16 08:34:21 PM
Doesn't matter. The only time I went to an Olive Garden, we left after sitting at the table for 15 minutes. No menus, no water, nothing. And there were more servers in the place than customers.
 
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