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Olive Garden goes beefy with burgers
Olive Garden is beefing up its menu — literally.
The Italian chain will start serving a 6-ounce burger for $9.99 to better compete with fast-casual and other sit-down dining chains. Owned by Darden Restaurants Inc., Olive Garden has been refining its menu as it struggles to attract diners amid fierce competition.
Darden CEO Clarence Otis has been advertising three-course meals aimed at budget-conscious diners and small plates to lure the young, bar-hopping crowd. The chain's same-store sales dropped 4 percent in the three months ended Aug. 25, and, in October, hedge fund Barington Capital Group LP took a 2.8 percent stake and began pushing for changes.
Olive Garden conducted research to figure out which competitors were picking up the diners it was losing, said Jim Nuetzi, executive chef at the 820-store chain. "A lot of times we were losing them to a burger craving."
Competitors have been selling and refining burgers for years.