Olive Garden Gets A Makeover

Olive Garden restaurants across the country are getting a makeover! Starting this month, the Italian food chain has begun rolling out its redesigned décor and logo, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The overhaul is part of a “brand renaissance” announced last March by Darden Restaurants, Olive Garden’s parent company. The re-branding efforts include smaller lunch portions, faster service, and online ordering.

Olive Garden has updated its logo for the first in more than 15 years. Along with an interior remodel, these are the visual signals of Darden’s strategy to win back customers lost to fast casual restaurants such as as Chipotle and Panera Bread, which offer freshly prepared food at lower prices.

Business Insider reports that Olive Garden recently outlined the major changes in a news release:

“The new design includes the removal of walls to create a more open and inviting atmosphere; distinctive decor in each dining area for a more homelike feel; a striking, more modern lobby and bar area which encourages guests to gather; flexible seating that better accommodates large parties; and more vibrant colors, fabrics and textures that bring new energy to guests’ dining experience.”

Olive Garden new design
Olive Garden new design

The most obvious change in this rebranding process is the new Olive Garden logo, which is a cleaner, simpler design. Also worth noting is that the phrase “Italian Restaurant” has been replaced with “Italian Kitchen”, which is likely an attempt to emphasize the chain’s attempts to attract diners who are interested in fast healthy options other than endless soup, salad and bread sticks!

By updating the look and menu of Olive Garden, Darden hopes it can boost business for the lagging restaurant chain, which accounts for 40% of the parent’s revenue but suffered a 3.4% drop in same store sales for the 12 months that ended on May 25. That same month, Darden sold its under performing Red Lobster division for $2.1 billion after the seafood chain was hit hard by increasing shrimp prices, but announced that they would retain the Olive Garden franchise.

Last month, Olive Garden announced that it would implement online ordering at all of its locations by the end of August. The websites will allow customers to order meals online and pick them up at the restaurant.

According to prnewswire.com, Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 800 restaurants, more than 96,000 employees and more than $3.6 billion in annual sales.

Photos courtesy of Olive Garden