Olive Garden investor Starboard Value is a total party pooper and believes that the chain "is being reckless" by offering unlimited breadsticks. According to the Associated Press, the killjoys published a (warning:PDF) "300-page treatise on what's wrong" with the chain and apparently breadsticks were at the top of the list. According to company policy, servers are supposed to only bring "one breadstick per customer at a time, plus an extra for the table" but they often bring out more than that. This apparently leads to waste. Starboard claims that it isn't "pushing for an end to unlimited breadsticks, just more control in how they are doled out."
Unfortunately, as Vox points out, "cutting waste isn't going to solve the bigger problem that Olive Garden and its midscale-dining peers face: people just would rather go elsewhere." Olive Garden's sales have fallen into a slump, as Reuters noted earlier today. Other Olive Garden strategies that came under fire in the treatise: Its "outdated advertising strategy, how the chain "boils its pasta" (a note the world is probably inclined to agree with), and — in another Debby Downer move — its "liberal" use of salad dressing. Starboard appeared to have no comments on Olive Garden's new Never Ending Pasta Pass where the chain is essentially giving away buckets of pasta for just a few bucks for seven weeks straight.
· Back Off On the Breadsticks [AP]
· Olive Garden Has Bigger Problems Than Breadsticks [Vox]
· All Olive Garden Coverage on Eater [-E-]