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Olive Garden Investors: Cut Back on the Breadsticks

Olive Garden, an Italian restaurant managed by Darden. Image, Darden.

If you laid all of the breadsticks Olive Garden uses in one year end-to-end,  they’d circle the earth 3 times. That’s 700 million breadsticks.

The average customer gets three. But they rarely eat them all, and investors think that’s too many.

Starboard Value, and investment group that owns 8 percent of Darden’s shares, estimate that cutting the number of breadsticks per customer could save the chain about $4 million.

UCF Economist Sean Snaith expects the company to make a change, but not anytime soon. “I think that would be a decision not hastily made just because of the nature of it and how much the brand was characterized by these unlimited items,” says Snaith

Darden’s food costs are some of the highest in the industry – around 30 percent. Lowering food costs is one of a range of recommended changes.

Darden says it will ‘carefully and thoughtfully’ review Starboard’s plan.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »