Olive Garden Investor Slams Chain Over ... Breadsticks

294-page manifesto also complains about asparagus length, logo, pasta water
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2014 1:42 PM CDT
Olive Garden Investor Slams Chain Over ... Breadsticks
Starboard Value wants Olive Garden to quit bringing out so many breadsticks at a time—and make its asparagus spears shorter.   (Shutterstock)

Everyone who was lucky enough to nab an Olive Garden all-you-can-eat pass, get ready. Starboard Value, an investor trying to wrest control from Olive Garden's parent company, submitted a nearly 300-page filing to the SEC yesterday outlining that it takes umbrage with the restaurant's unlimited breadstick policy, stating that "Olive Garden uses 675 million to 700 million breadsticks a year, or an average of three a customer," the Chicago Tribune reports. While there is an official breadstick policy that mandates servers wait till a customer has consumed one breadstick before bringing out another, this policy is routinely ignored, and masses of forgotten sticks "deteriorate" on the table, Starboard says.

Parent company Darden Restaurants says there's an "Olive Garden brand renaissance" in the works, but the cranky investor has a beef with plenty of other issues that it feels may be contributing to declining sales, reports AP: Starboard doesn't like the restaurant's "liberal use of salad dressings" or the length of its asparagus spears. Also: Olive Garden has an antiquated advertising strategy, its logo looks like a "second-grader's cursive practice," and the restaurant’s chefs don't salt their pasta water. "If you were to Google 'how to cook pasta,' the first step of Pasta 101 is to salt the water," the document asserts. To throw extra salt in Olive Garden's wound instead of directly in the pasta water, the complaint also gets in a dig comparing the chain's breadsticks to hot dog buns. (Read more Olive Garden stories.)

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