Olive Garden may not bring back Never-Ending Pasta Bowl

HYATTSVILLE, MD - Create your own pasta--Spaghetti, Traditional Meat Sauce and Meatballs at Olive Garden photographed in Hyattsville, MD. (Photo by Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images).

Nothing is ever really "never-ending."

One of Olive Garden’s most well-known promotions may never be returning. According to recent reports, the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl could be off the menu for good.

The new CEO of Olive Garden’s parent company recently discussed the annual promotion while delivering the chain’s quarterly results, Restaurant Business Online (RBI) reports. Same store sales actually rose compared to the same time period from two years ago, despite various factors working against Olive Garden this year.

Aside from not bringing the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl promotion back, the restaurant chain is still struggling with the pandemic, as well as the labor shortage.

Darden Restaurants CEO Rick Cardenas spoke on Friday and explained that the popular promotion may not have helped sales as it was once believed.

"We know [Never-Ending Pasta Bowl] was a negative impact over the years," Cardenas explained, "but the profitability wasn't as high as the guests that we're doing today. And so we decided to reduce the dependency on Never-Ending Pasta Bowl this year because we didn't need to drive volume into our restaurants."

He continued, "As we look forward, we don't know if we'll bring and when we'll bring Never-Ending Pasta Bowl back because we have a never-ending abundance every day with our never-ending first course."

Cardenas was referring to Olive Garden’s unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks promotion.

Darden has shifted focus from promotions and marketing to productivity and operations, RBI reports. While restaurants, on average, are only operating with 95% of their pre-Covid staff, Cardenas said new improvements mean that restaurants won’t have to get back to 100% staffing to achieve the same results.

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