A fight for control over Olive Garden's parent company, Darden Restaurants, has shed light on some of the Italianish restaurant chain's less-than-ideal kitchen practices. For example: Olive Garden kitchens do not salt their pasta water. For another example: Olive Garden kitchens exclusively prepare Olive Garden recipes, which are bad.
Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP is trying to take over the board of Darden Restaurants, and as part of its campaign produced nearly 300 pages of PowerPoint slides detailing changes it would make to company practice. Among these: Quit foisting "endless" lousy breadsticks on customers who do not request them. (Weirdly, "call the police on customers who do" does not seem to have made the list.)
The gem of this story is the image above, tweeted out by Dennis Berman, the Wall Street Journal's business editor. There are so many things to love about this image. The sad photo of the ol' heap-of-sauce-on-top-of-plain-pasta presentation familiar to Olive Garden diners as well as anyone who has gone to "Sketti Night" at their Great Aunt Phyllis's house. The notion of Carrabba's as some exemplar of excellence in Italian-American cuisine; the reality that, hell, compared to Olive Garden, it's basically Babbo.
Best of all, though, is the use of the phrase "deteriorated significantly" in the header. Ha! That's Starboard Value LP being nice to Olive Garden. Literally no one out there in the world is on some "Man, I remember when Olive Garden food used to be good" shit. No one can remember those days; they did not occur. Even if there was some halcyon time of yore when Olive Garden's staff put more care and attention into the presentation of your Quattroformaggiasagnavioli in Smoked Fontina Dairy Mud, it was still a giant dough-bag full of ricotta and bacon bits floating in a horse-trough of white macaroni-and-cheese sauce. It was still gastroenteritis with shredded Parmesan on top. It was still Eye-Talian food for the Tony Stewart ballcap crowd.
Don't go to Olive Garden.
Image via this tweet