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Dec 19, 2013 07:33 PM

Apparently Olive Garden is for rich people ...

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

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

    20 Replies
    1. re: kitchengardengal

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

      Just asking.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        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

          Seriously, I dunno.

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

          1. re: ipsedixit

            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

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

              (((evil laugh)))

              1. re: kitchengardengal

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

                1. re: kitchengardengal

                  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

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

                  1. re: carolinadawg

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

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I still don't get 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

                        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

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

                3. re: kitchengardengal

                  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

                    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

                      $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

                        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

                      "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

                        "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

                          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. 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. 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

                      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

                        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. 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. 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

                            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

                              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.