Olive Garden drops the fake old-world charm
If you look closely, you might think that the chain now bears a striking resemblance to Panera Bread.
If you visit an Olive Garden this month, you might get a whiff of change.
The Italian food chain has begun rolling out its redesigned décor and logo -- a two-course re-branding effort to ditch its cheesy reputation for one that's slightly more sophisticated, albeit still family-friendly.
The overhaul is part of a "brand renaissance" announced last March by Darden Restaurants (DRI), Olive Garden's parent company, and the effort includes smaller lunch portions, faster dine-in service, and online ordering.
A logo update, the first in more than 15 years, and an interior remodel are the visual signals of Darden's strategy to win back customers lost to such fast-casual brands as Chipotle (CMG) and Panera Bread (PNRA), which offer freshly prepared food at lower prices.
If you look closely, you might think that the new Olive Garden bears a striking resemblance to Panera Bread. Olive Garden has ditched its drab interior and faux Old World vibe for a more modern, open feel by removing some walls and decorating the remaining ones with brighter hues and modern art. Look familiar?
To be fair, a few changes reinforce Olive Garden's restaurant status. The plateware is now all-white to enhance presentation. There's a lobby, and the bar area allows diners to booze up before gorging on unlimited bread sticks.
The décor is inoffensive and charmless, much like the new logo. The revised mark -- "based on work assisted by Lippincott, a nationally-recognized design firm," according to Olive Garden -- is a simplified take on the horrible yet endearing old symbol, which featured a loose cursive font and a cluster of grapes against a stucco-like background.
The new logo plays it safe with a more restrained script, an ash-gray backdrop, and olive branches where the grapes once were. It also replaces the tagline "Italian Restaurant" with "Italian Kitchen," connoting fast and high-quality fare.
The logo received a fair share of criticism when it was unveiled earlier this year.
Writing for Fast Company’s Co.Design website, John Brownlee praised the honesty of the old design:
"At least you knew what it meant: bad food served in a depressing mass-produced setting."
A more generous appraisal might see the new Olive Garden design as less bad than the old. Still, that might not be enough to get customers in the door.
By re-branding, Darden hopes it can prop up its sagging star, which accounts for 40 percent of the parent’s revenue but suffered a 3.4 percent drop in same-store sales for the 12 months that ended on May 25. That month, Darden sold its under-performing Red Lobster division for $2.1 billion after the seafood chain was hit hard by surging shrimp prices.
Darden knows its chain lags competitors, but the re-branding suggests that instead of trying to sprint ahead, the company has done just enough to try to catch up.
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not gonna work.
they sell pasta, and there is no reason for pasta to be so expensive.
Because I always look for a logo I like before deciding where to eat. Somebody spent 100k on a college degree so they could come up with that change ? Idiots.
Olive Garden is the lowest quality "italian" food there is.
I will never eat there again after they refused to let a Veterans group put up their flag during a meeting at Olive Garden.
A pox on OG!!!!
Prince of Darkness,
Yes, in the midwest Olive Garden is overpriced and considered upscale dining. I find it to be way too many carbs but the salad is the best I ever had.
As for the article about the logo?
The logo resemblance is neglible at best. It's not at all a good comparison. This story is meant to incite a lawsuit or a lot of complaining and nothing more. No merit at all.
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