Olive Garden is trying really hard to appeal to a younger crowd. What's the best way to draw in Millennials? The magical green vegetable that is kale of course. According to Bloomberg, Olive Garden's head chef Jim Nuetzi is trying to bring a "foodie sensibility" to the pasta-peddling chain. Nuetzi is now testing ingredients "more often found at hipper joints" such as kale, capers, and "pistachio-crusted truffles."
Nuetzi tells Bloomberg that the chain is "purposely using ingredients that would have been considered polarizing." He adds, "If we don't start introducing polenta, olives and capers we're going to miss the boat." Though perhaps that boat has already sailed if the chain is equating classic Italian ingredients with trendy ones that will lure in Millennials.
On top of attempting to hop on the kale bandwagon like Panda Express, Olive Garden is taking many other steps to become more chic. Earlier this year as part of its "Brand Renaissance" Olive Garden introduced a new updated logo. The chain also announced that it's remodeling many of the restaurants to be updated with cleaner lines, modern colors, and wheel-less chairs. Olive Garden also unleashed a new small plates menu featuring dishes like fried risotto balls and not-very-Italian-but-super-hip hummus. Who knows, maybe five years from now there will be a Cronut knock-off joining the tiramisu on Olive Garden menus across the nation.
· Olive Garden Heads Back Into Kitchen as Activists Circle [Bloomberg]
· All Olive Garden Coverage on Eater [-E-]