Red Lobster, Olive Garden comps up, but traffic declines

ORLANDO Fla. Darden Restaurants Inc., which operates more than 1,440 restaurants under five brands, said same-store sales at both its flagship Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains were positive for the four weeks ended Jan. 28, but only because of average check increases aided by menu price hikes that offset traffic declines.

Same-store sales at Red Lobster rose between 2 percent and 3 percent over the fiscal January period a year earlier. Guest counts dropped by that same amount for the period and the chain’s average check rose 5 percent, the company reported. At Olive Garden, same-store sales increased between 1 percent and 2 percent, which reflected a 1-percent to 2-pecrent drop in traffic and a 3-percent increase in check average.

The check average increases at both chains were driven by a 2-percent to 3-percent increase in menu prices and favorable menu mix changes, Darden reported.