Since Marilyn Hagerty's viral review still isn't bringing in the young people to Olive Garden, Darden Restaurants, parent company of the chain along with Red Lobster and The Capital Grille, has been testing small plates on its menus and will be making them part of the permanent menu nationwide by December.
This is all in an effort to attract diners in their 20s and 30s, who tend to avoid chains and treat eating out as social events, not like the families and older customers who typically respond to the chain's value propositions and larger portions.
The tapas-sized items include garlic hummus, tortelloni stuffed with cheese, chicken meatballs, and Parmesan asparagus. The average price of a dish: $4.
In a report, Bloomberg says the strategy is working, noting an Olive Garden manager in Texas as saying that “it's easier for the younger crowd to text and check their phone while munching hand-held bites.”