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Apparently Olive Garden is for rich people ...

ipsedixit Dec 19, 2013 07:33 PM

... and Red Lobster is, well, not.


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  1. kitchengardengal RE: ipsedixit Dec 19, 2013 07:48 PM

    So, ya think people who want seafood know better, but people who want Italian don't?
    Just asking.

    20 Replies
    1. re: kitchengardengal
      ipsedixit RE: kitchengardengal Dec 19, 2013 07:56 PM

      So you are assuming Red Lobster serves "seafood" and that Olive Garden serves "Eye-Tal-Lee-In"?

      Just asking.

      1. re: ipsedixit
        kitchengardengal RE: ipsedixit Dec 19, 2013 08:05 PM

        Never assume.
        I can guess all day, though. My question is, do people with money know better than to expect good seafood at RL, but they don't know a fake EyTalLeeIn restaurant from a real one?

        1. re: kitchengardengal
          ipsedixit RE: kitchengardengal Dec 19, 2013 08:07 PM

          Seriously, I dunno.

          But it is a rather quixotic finding by the company, wouldn't you say?

          1. re: ipsedixit
            kitchengardengal RE: ipsedixit Dec 19, 2013 08:15 PM

            Oh, great. Now I have to go to bed with 'quixotic' rolling around in my head... Well, it's better than that Christmas song that Paul McCartney did that's been driving me batty for the last two weeks. Fortunately I've purged it from my mind. Unfortunately, Quixote and quixotic have taken its place. Thanks. :-P

            1. re: kitchengardengal
              sedimental RE: kitchengardengal Dec 19, 2013 08:25 PM

              Simply having a wonderful Christmas time...simply having a wonderful Christmas time...simply having a wonderful Christmas time....

              (((evil laugh)))

              1. re: sedimental
                kitchengardengal RE: sedimental Dec 19, 2013 08:33 PM


              2. re: kitchengardengal
                Meowzerz RE: kitchengardengal Dec 19, 2013 08:54 PM

                Hey...that's my favorite Christmas song!
                Sorry, that is all I have to add to this matter.

                1. re: kitchengardengal
                  NonnieMuss RE: kitchengardengal Dec 20, 2013 11:19 AM

                  Gah! Hate that song. It's like he retroactively went back in time and unwrote all his Beatles songs, swallowed a synthesizer and a bunch of tinsel, then shat out the worst Christmas song ever.


                2. re: ipsedixit
                  carolinadawg RE: ipsedixit Dec 20, 2013 05:26 AM

                  I'm curious, how is Darden studying the demographics of its customers "quixotic"?

                  1. re: carolinadawg
                    ipsedixit RE: carolinadawg Dec 20, 2013 06:38 PM

                    Not the fact that Darden is studying its demographics, but the results that are quixotic.

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      carolinadawg RE: ipsedixit Dec 21, 2013 02:45 AM

                      I still don't get it...how is the fact that OG patrons have a higher incomes that RL patrons quixotic? Quixotic means "exceedingly idealistic, unrealistic and impractical". We're simply talking about survey data here...

                      1. re: carolinadawg
                        ipsedixit RE: carolinadawg Dec 21, 2013 10:59 AM

                        The fact that the company thinks, or rather interprets that data in such a fashion makes it rather idealistic -- i.e., that they can pigeonhole a specific demographic for each of their respective restaurants and then jettison those that do not fit their desired corporate profile and portfolio.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          carolinadawg RE: ipsedixit Dec 21, 2013 11:08 AM

                          Hmm, ok. Sounds like basic market research to me.

                3. re: kitchengardengal
                  cornedhash RE: kitchengardengal Dec 19, 2013 10:08 PM

                  It kind of makes sense though. Imagine if you're a couple in suburbia that makes a household income of $185,000. If you've been trying to cut back the last few years during the recession, I can see going to Olive Garden for a much cheaper Italian meal with leftovers versus going somewhere else for Italian and paying $80. You start to save the $80 restaurant for a special treat every 3 -5 months and Olive Garden gets your money the rest of the time you're craving lasagna and garlic bread.

                  1. re: cornedhash
                    kitchengardengal RE: cornedhash Dec 19, 2013 10:18 PM

                    Regardless of the authenticity of the food, I'm having a problem imagining that if I made $185k, that I would need to worry about that $80 meal.
                    If I can't swing an $80 dinner once a week, I need some financial advice.

                    1. re: kitchengardengal
                      cornedhash RE: kitchengardengal Dec 19, 2013 10:29 PM

                      $80 once a week for let's say 36 weeks a year comes out to $2880 on Italian dinners alone. Even if you make $185K, that's a lot of money just to spend on one type of cuisine not even counting pizza or your lunches out. You'll be broke in no time and living above your means.

                      1. re: cornedhash
                        melpy RE: cornedhash Dec 20, 2013 03:19 AM

                        We make about 100,000 between is and my husband alone spends 24,000 not hundred per year on food. We have no credit cArd debt but a mortgage and two cars Nd still find money to invest.

                        Not broke over here!

                    2. re: cornedhash
                      Clams047 RE: cornedhash Dec 20, 2013 01:14 PM

                      "I can see going to Olive Garden for a much cheaper Italian meal"

                      That's quite a paradox.

                      Olive Garden ...... Italian meal...... ?

                      1. re: cornedhash
                        Clams047 RE: cornedhash Dec 20, 2013 01:21 PM

                        "and Olive Garden gets your money the rest of the time you're craving lasagna and garlic bread"

                        If that's the case, why not just get a frozen lasagna from the grocer to get similar quality at a real savings. Better yet, get a superior quality lasagna from the grocer deli and still save money while having something of decent quality.

                        1. re: Clams047
                          cornedhash RE: Clams047 Dec 20, 2013 06:55 PM

                          Some people may not want to do that. They may want to be served and not have to do anything in their kitchen. I'm not going to begrudge them that. I don't have a hatred of The Olive Garden burning with the fire of a thousands suns like you and other Chowhounders seem to have. I've only been there once and that was probably 15 years ago. I honestly don't remember what it tastes like but I could see people enjoying some stuff no matter what their reasons. I couldn't care less about it some ways because I acknowledge it's the only option some places have for Italian(-American) food.

                          So it goes.

                4. knowspicker RE: ipsedixit Dec 19, 2013 08:55 PM

                  It really just shows that people who eat at Olive Garden lie about what they make on surveys and Darden believes them. Unless they are getting a bunch of people paying the Black Amex at OG.

                  1. Boston_Otter RE: ipsedixit Dec 20, 2013 04:46 AM

                    About once a year or so, I end up at Olive Garden for a family get-together, a birthday, or something else I've been invited to, and it's always sort of bizarre; folks will choose it because "it's a decent place that's not too expensive", but wow, it's actually pretty expensive. Why a very mediocre chain Italian place is pricier than a lot of very nice restaurants serving far better food -- and why there are always lines out the door -- never fails to confuse me.

                    Red Lobster? Everyone I know who goes there says "I go there for the cheesy biscuits."

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                      miss_belle RE: Boston_Otter Dec 20, 2013 11:44 AM

                      The last time I was in WM they had boxed RL cheddar bay biscuit mix for sale. Just add water, cheddar and butter...

                      1. re: Boston_Otter
                        jsaimd RE: Boston_Otter Dec 30, 2013 08:36 PM

                        That was my reaction last time I went there. My son wanted to try it for his birthday - he had never been. But my boys eat a lot of food, so I thought it might be a cheap alternative. Not so. My mediocre salmon with overcooked broccoli was well over $20. Not worth it. But i can't eat the breadsticks. I don't hate the restaurant, but where I live you can do a lot better for the price.

                      2. jrvedivici RE: ipsedixit Dec 20, 2013 01:24 PM

                        Looks like Olive Garden should change their theme song to the old "The Jefferson's" theme song.


                        "We finally got a piece of the pizza pie" !!
                        (yes I know Olive Garden doesn't serve pizza, just laugh and move on)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jrvedivici
                          melpy RE: jrvedivici Dec 25, 2013 02:09 AM

                          And yet they serve burgers...

                        2. Veggo RE: ipsedixit Dec 21, 2013 11:26 AM

                          Product lines across different income levels is good business. Porsche and Volkswagen, for example, same ownership.
                          Red Lobster must be a bow wow if Darden wants to cut it loose. I personally don't patronize RL for their practices in the past of harvesting lobsters in the Caribbean by spraying bleach in lobsters eyes in coral crags and scarring many miles of reefs off Belize and Honduras.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo
                            carolinadawg RE: Veggo Dec 21, 2013 12:18 PM

                            Barrington Capital owns 2% of Darden and is pushing them to sell off OG and RL because they are growing more slowly, or not all, than Darden's other concepts. More here:


                            1. re: carolinadawg
                              melpy RE: carolinadawg Dec 25, 2013 02:11 AM

                              Hard to grow when you glut the market. We have more than one of these concepts in our area but none of some of the other chains.

                          2. p
                            pedalfaster RE: ipsedixit Dec 21, 2013 12:22 PM

                            I did not see a dollar figure given to define "rich".

                            No one that I know eats at either place.

                            1. b
                              bobbert RE: ipsedixit Dec 22, 2013 07:15 AM

                              My theory: Bad Italian food is better than bad seafood. At the same pricepoint with the two restaurants sitting next to each other, I'd pull into OG. I can find SOMETHING to eat there. As someone who spends a lot eating out each year, I'm much more likely to splurge on quality seafood, meaning I will not do cheap, frozen, poorly prepared seafood. I'll also spend a lot on good Italian but I'm also more likely to eat cheap Italian because it's simply better than cheap seafood.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bobbert
                                melpy RE: bobbert Dec 25, 2013 02:16 AM

                                In an areA where seafood is limited RL is better quality than areas where seafood is decent. Not comparing the good places to RL but rather RL to RL. I can get something fairly decent if I stick to certain menu items only.

                                OG in the other hand seems to be terrible everywhere.

                                Plus OG has wait times over two hours in our area. For my money if I'm eating chain Italian food I'll be at Carrabbas or Macaroni Grill.

                              2. hill food RE: ipsedixit Dec 25, 2013 02:59 AM

                                Red Lobster seems more willing to locate in areas with lower per capita incomes and the only other option for (even a shadow of dine-in, as in, not just a bench) seafood is Long John Silver's

                                is it great? of course not, but is it it basic and reliable? just slow and steady. as a non-dining investor my money would be with RL.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: hill food
                                  bagelman01 RE: hill food Dec 25, 2013 07:18 AM

                                  There are only 4 surviving Red Lobster lications here in Connecticut (why anyone would want plastic seafood when we're a coastal state, I don't understand). Two are in large cities with a poor population, two are in working class towns near poor large cities.
                                  There are 8 surviving Olive Garden locations. Two in cities with poor populations. The other 6 are in lower middle class suburbs in major shopping center districts. None that were in towns or cities with major Italian-American populations survive more than a few years.

                                  Red Lobster issues a ton of coupons to drive business, Olive Garden advertises 'low priced' lunches.

                                  Neither will get my business.

                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                    Veggo RE: bagelman01 Dec 25, 2013 07:27 AM

                                    Thanks, Bagelman. Deal me out also.

                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                      Tom34 RE: bagelman01 Dec 25, 2013 08:56 AM

                                      Couldn't agree more. Super fresh high quality seafood is not cheap, even at the wholesale level, with most wild caught fish starting at $8.00 lb & and wild caught shell fish starting at $10.00 lb. , with prices going up substantially for high end products. Non of these products need heavy spice, breading or sauces and you won't find them at a RL.

                                      What you will find at RL are the cheapest products within a given category, which is exactly what your paying for. If you want the good stuff, double or even triple the menu price. There are many types of food I like that are made with lower end ingredients. Seafood is not one of them.

                                      1. re: bagelman01
                                        melpy RE: bagelman01 Dec 29, 2013 05:00 AM

                                        With the Seafood Nd Italiam food in CT I'm surprised there are that many.

                                        I grew up in CT and Md. Never heard of either one until we moved to MD. Didn't eat at either one until I was in college in PA.

                                        Ate at RL once in MD and it was deplorable. In the part of PA where I live and there is no seafood, we will go a few ties a year and it is passable. Only the most basic food do I eat. Steamed lobster or grilled lobster shrimp and scallops. The shrimp are embarrassing though.

                                        OG is vile. Gummy, flavorless salt bombs. The wait time can be more than two hours and it is just awful. I have been maybe four times in 12 years and tht was always at te requests of others.

                                    2. Tripeler RE: ipsedixit Dec 29, 2013 06:06 AM

                                      I grew up in an olive orchard in Northern California, and every time I see the name Olive Garden I think it is very odd. We called ours an orchard, never a garden. I guess as an alternative to fast food, OG may have some merit. But I could never imagine going there.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Tripeler
                                        Tom34 RE: Tripeler Dec 30, 2013 04:49 AM

                                        If others insist we will, but there is no anticipation like there is with the great mom/pop's we frequent.

                                        1. re: Tripeler
                                          Servorg RE: Tripeler Dec 30, 2013 06:46 AM

                                          If you haven't at least perused this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/837787 then it's probably worth looking at as it's an interesting read and may give you some "food for thought"...

                                        2. k
                                          KrumTx RE: ipsedixit Dec 29, 2013 07:18 AM

                                          I'm rich! Hot DOG!

                                          I've never been to Olive Garden or Red Lobster, but both parking lots are freakishly packed anytime I drive by.

                                          Not having been isn't because I'm a snob, but because I've been lucky to avoid them. I do frequent Chili's every couple of months because my nephew likes their ribs. I'll get their Southwestern Egg Rolls.

                                          There, I said it. Chili's doesnt bother me so much. Now I'll skulk off as a loser.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: KrumTx
                                            ipsedixit RE: KrumTx Dec 29, 2013 11:03 AM

                                            I think Chili's burgers are pretty good.

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