Olive Garden, the Italian casual-dining chain, has rolled out its annual Never Ending Pasta Bowl limited-time offer for $8.95 this week.
The Never Ending Pasta Bowl deal is re-introduced annually at the end of summer near the start of the school year, said Karen Ferrari, a spokeswoman for Darden Restaurants, the Orlando-based parent company of the 754-unit Olive Garden.
During Darden’s most recent earnings call on July 1 , the company reported that Olive Garden’s fourth-quarter U.S. same-store sales were flat at zero percent for the February–May period, compared with the same quarter in 2010. The topic of Olive Garden dishes not gaining widespread consumer appeal was discussed during the call.
“Stepping back from the fourth quarter, we know that same-restaurant sales results at Olive Garden since February have not been what we want them to be,” Andrew Madsen, Darden president and chief operating officer, said.
“We also believe that dishes we promoted since February have not been broadly appealing enough,” he added.
For the Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion, customers can choose from seven different pastas and six sauces for 42 different combinations, with unlimited breadsticks and salad or soup. The limited-time offer began Monday and lasts until Oct. 9, said Heidi Schauer, an Olive Garden spokeswoman.
The pastas are spaghetti, whole-wheat linguini, linguini, penne, angel hair, fettuccine and orecchiette. The sauces are alfredo, meat sauce, marinara, five-cheese marinara, and new roasted mushroom parmesan and pizzaiola meat sauces.
According to Olive Garden’s website, the top combinations are fettuccine with alfredo sauce; spaghetti with pizzaiola meat sauce; and whole-wheat linguine, orecchiette and angel hair pasta each with roasted mushroom parmesan sauce.