Olive Garden can't catch a break.
Earlier this week, the struggling Italian-themed chain tried to get some buzz by offering the Pasta Pass — a $100 card that that buys you all the pasta, salad, bread and soft drinks you can ingest over the next seven weeks. The 1,000 passes sold out within minutes, but not without it backfiring on them. Hundreds of angry customers took to Twitter and the company's Facebook page to complain that the site took their credit card information without processing their order. Many just wanted to sell them on eBay, but they're stuck with their fate.
If that wasn't rough enough of a week, now one of its investors released a 300-page report on everything wrong with the place, including saying it's time to control the free breadsticks.
In a nearly 300-page treatise on what's wrong with Olive Garden and its management, investor Starboard Value suggests the Italian restaurant chain is being reckless with its unlimited breadsticks. The hedge fund notes the chain's official policy is to bring out one breadstick per customer at a time, plus an extra for the table.
But Starboard says servers bring out more than that, leading to waste — and cold breadsticks. Starboard notes that it isn't pushing for an end to unlimited breadsticks, just more control in how they're doled out.
If you're thinking, "Maybe a struggling company should tighten its belt a bit," that's already been worked out at McSweeney's:
Gentlemen, free breadsticks aren’t about profits! Free breadsticks are about making the diner feel safe from his wife’s feelings! Free breadsticks say, “No matter your race, creed, or gender, you don’t have to talk—here’s more food to put in your mouth!” With a constant flow of breadsticks, our diners can stay here as long as they like and never have to speak to anyone at their table. Isn’t that worth fighting for? Isn’t that worth your precious profit margin?