Olive Garden Gets a Makeover

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, “Olive Garden said it is remodeling 400 of its more than 730 locations over the next two years in an effort to reinforce its Italian heritage with consumers.”

“Called ‘Via Tuscany,’ the new interior and exterior look draws its inspiration from a Tuscan farmhouse, Olive Garden said in a press release, and will feature upgraded seating and window treatments in the dining rooms and bar areas. Outside touches include new front doors, Tuscan stones, a brick arch, freshly painted walls and newly planted Cypress trees. Heidi Schauer, a spokeswoman for parent company Darden Restaurants Inc., said in an e-mail Wednesday that the test of the new Via Tuscany look has been expanded to 30 restaurants in Texas. Drew Madsen, Darden’s president and chief operating officer, said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call March 25 that 35 of Olive Garden’s locations outside Texas have already been refurbished to include new design elements.”

“’We haven’t had them remodeled for a long time, but so far, the impact on brand perception and same-restaurant sales lift has been positive,’ he said. Olive Garden joins sister brands Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse in a getting a facelift. Red Lobster is in the midst of a multiyear makeover of its nearly 700 restaurants, a third of which are expected to feature the new “Bar Harbor” look by May. Meanwhile, the 347-unit LongHorn Steakhouse expects to complete its remodeling program by the first half of next year.”

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