You've probably been busy eating real food to notice that America's favorite breadstick-shaped-baked-wheat purveyor, Olive Garden, is currently in the grips of a nasty proxy fight. Starboard Value LP, an investor in Darden Restaurants Inc.—Olive Garden's parent company—is vying for control of the Darden's board as sales, namely at Olive Garden, languish. And in a nearly 300-page slideshow takedown, Starboard takes Darden to task for what they believe to be poor business practices, most notably: Olive Garden does not salt their pasta water.
In a section of the slideshow devoted entirely to Olive Garden's "deteriorated" food quality, Starboard writes, "If you were to google 'how to cook pasta,' the first step of Pasta 101 is to salt the water." They also describe the pasta as "dry" and "overcooked" (so not, as any pasta cook worth their salt would know, al dente) and the pasta sauces as "bland." Starboard's report comes to the shocking conclusion that, yes, Olive Garden's food sucks.
The firm's lambasting of Olive Garden even takes aim at the restaurant's signature foodstuff, the breadsticks, comparing them to hot dog buns. They also say that stores are giving out—or rather, wasting—too many of the breadsticks, their "unlimited" status notwithstanding. The company advised that Olive Garden start only replacing a table's breadsticks when customers ask.