Olive Garden Pursues Millennial Foodies With Tuscan Tapas

Traditionally, people have gone to Olive Garden when they feel like consuming theoretically infinite salad and breadsticks and miles of pasta. Portions are large enough to form at least two meals. Aren’t they? The chain is trying something new in some markets, and taking it nationwide: small plates for groups to share, instead of giant carb platters.

The plates have performed surprisingly well, drawing a younger crowd between lunch and dinner, as well as selling to people who are in the restaurant for full meals. Offering tapas at least might get young(er) adults in their 20s and 30s into the building to buy a glass of wine and some chicken skewers during slow between-meal times.

Apparently, the way people socialize around food has changed. Small plates suit millennials, since for them, “social occasions generally don’t tend to be large meals in a traditional sense,” one expert explained to Bloomberg Businessweek. Maybe that’s because they’re rushing off to the night jobs that they took to help cover their student loan payments instead of spending a few leisurely hours at the Never-Ending Pasta Trough.

The small plates were tested in selected cities and will go on the menu nationwide in December. The company is also testing other ideas, like tortellini and garlic hummus. Hummus?

Olive Garden Woos Millennials With Tapas to Revive Sales: Retail [Bloomberg Businessweek]