It’s a rough time for restaurant chains, especially when it comes to sit-down chains like TGI Fridays, Applebees and Olive Garden. They just can’t keep up with major fast-casual chains like Chipotle and Panera, which combine value with a semblance of healthy eating, unless you just mainline Quesaritos like me. So these chains are trying new gimmicks to get people in the door, like TGI Fridays’ endless appetizers, Red Lobster tried their hand at “Endless Shrimp,” and now the Olive Garden is throwing their hat in the ring by expanding on their infamous “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” deal.
How big of an expansion? Try SEVEN WEEKS long. All the pasta, soup, salad and breadsticks you can eat, plus a Coca-Cola soft drink, all for $100. It’s called the “Never Ending Pasta Pass.”
My fat-senses are tingling, and my Jewish value-sense is buzzing off the charts. Sure it’s “Olive Garden,” which is to Italian food as a McDonald’s Hamburger is to a Porterhouse steak from Peter Luger’s, but sometimes you just want to eat pure, unadulterated garbage. And for just $100, you can eat like a king for nearly two months. It’s the carbo-load to end all carbo-loads.
If you want a Never-Ending Pasta Pass, you’d better act fast, only 1,000 of them will be sold, beginning Monday at 3 p.m. ET, online via the Olive Garden website. Unfortunately, the offer isn’t for everyone, it’s just a PR Stunt to promote the return of the Never Ending Pasta Bowl, which returns on September 22nd. Looks like Christmas came early this year.
“What we’re trying to do is get some attention. It’s sure to provoke a reaction,” said Olive Garden executive vice president of marketing, Jay Spenchian to USA Today.
Well, now you just kinda sound desperate, dude. At least say you’re doing it for the love of the pasta, or something. But last year during its “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” promotion, the O.G. served 13 million bowls, so they must be doing something right. “It’s our most popular and most requested promotion,” Spenchian added.
They’re also taking the TGI Fridays policy of “not policing the tables” when it comes to sharing your unlimited pasta, although they discourage the act, and they really want pass-holders to feel like VIPs; that’s why the store chain even threw in free soft drinks. If you ever wanted to hit the fast track to type two diabetes, here’s your chance.
They’re also hoping that anyone who holds the pass will opt to eat every lunch and dinner at Olive Garden. “I’d love to see that,” Spenchian says. “Especially if they bring four or five guests along.”
I don’t know about guests, but I will certainly be ordering enough for four or five, sir. See you in the trenches.
[via USA Today]