Italian-food-from-a-plastic-bladder eatery and suburban hellscape staple* Olive Garden is revamping its image: by making its signage more closely resemble the sort of label you might see on a jumbo-sized package of dye-free 100% organic disposable diapers.
The chain's aesthetic makeover is going further than its cutesy new font; restaurants' interior spaces will now be more streamlined and less fake vine-centric. Here's the old logo, which conjures images of customizable welcome mats available for order exclusively through SkyMall.
This change goes beyond the logo.
The company on Monday showed pictures of new interiors it has been testing. The preview included a lobby with dark wood floors, exposed ceiling beams, track lighting and long, avocado-green couches. It also showed a dining room with dark wood furniture and trim.
The company will keep testing interiors into its 2015 fiscal year, which starts in late May. It will renovate the first 75 restaurants in a new style that year. Then it will ramp up to between 125 and 150 annually for the next two years.
The project will target 350 older restaurants, built before those constructed in the style of a Tuscan farmhouse. Olive Garden has more than 800 restaurants.
This is too much. First: where the fuck am I supposed to eat now when I want to consume 1,600 calories of pasta and cream sauce in a restaurant that looks like it inspired the aesthetics of The Bachelor mansion's exterior gardens? WHAT IF I WANT A BELLINI IN A MICHAEL'S STOCK ROOM? AM I SUPPOSED TO BREAK IN AFTER HOURS WITH MY OWN BOOZE, PRAY TELL?
The OG's facelift comes on the heels of a few quarters of disappointing earnings from its parent company, Darden Restaurants, who recently announced plans to spin off Red Lobster into the Cheddar Bay abyss of independence. Investors and analysts aren't pleased. Diners, too, are souring on the company's offerings; the last few quarters have seen drops in sales that suggest that perhaps it is possible that diners have eaten all the breadsticks that they can eat.
In addition to long green couches, Olive Garden is going to start using all white plates, allowing online ordering and curbside to-go pickup, and giving diners more choices when it comes to their signature "unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks" offer (or, as I called it back in college when I waitressed at an Olive Garden: the "You Will Running Around An Awful Lot And Most Likely Get No Tip" special). Will it make a difference?