In response to hedge fund Starboard Value's scathing 300-page slideshow about everything from the size of the carb kingdom's asparagus to the lack of salted water for their pasta, Olive Garden released a relatively concise report of their own. In 24 pages, the restaurant basically says, "Hey, man, we're in the business of providing Italian generosity, capisce? You pickin' up what we're puttin' down?"
The unlimited breadsticks, which Olive Garden has become inextricably linked to like a brick tied to a note that says "Hey, vaffanculo, Starboard Value," thrown through the window of a certain hedge fund, Olive Garden says it isn't so sure the criticisms are warranted, making sure to note that their "salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982." Starboard Value had declared Olive Garden's breadstick distribution lacking in control.
Darden's 24-page response doesn't specifically address each of Starboard's criticisms, but states that the company is already implementing a variety of strategies to improve Olive Garden's performance. The company says it has introduced new menu items to underscore value, for instance, and is testing new ordering technologies using table-top tablets.
While Olive "Madison Square" Garden is attempting to lure in carbophiles with locked-in promotions and enough breadsticks to roof a municipal building, Starboard Value's critiques still stand. But are unlimited breadsticks a sign of Olive "Secret" Garden's Italian heritage or are they the sign of the inevitable decline of a once-great culinary destination full of class, prestige, and esteem?
[Image via AP]