Olive Garden Overhaul: Darden Loses Board Seats To Breadstick Police Investors

There might be fewer breadsticks in the basket next time you visit Olive Garden. Okay, fine we don’t really know if that’s true, but we do know that Darden Restaurant Inc., the parent company of the Italian restaurant, lost all of its board seats to investors turned breadstick police Starboard Value LP today.

Reuters reports the entire Darden board was ousted at a meeting in what they call a rare victor for dissident investors.

While we don’t exactly know what the takeover by Starboard means, you might remember that just last month Starboard publicly criticized the performance and mismanagement the Olive Garden chain.

The investors issued a nearly 300-page proposal outlining a plan to turn around the Italian chain, while criticizing the restaurant’s employees of straying from policy – including overloading customers on breadsticks.

The proposal included plans to sell Darden’s real estate, franchise its restaurants, spin-off The Capital Grille, Yard House and other chains.

As for Olive Garden, the investors said in the proposal that they plan to boost the chain’s alcohol sales, use technology to eliminate “false waits” for tables and implement more cost-effective marketing.

Following Starboard’s presentation, Darden shot back a shorter, 24-page analysis that included defending the policy of giving customers as many breadsticks as they can shove down their throats.

The company said that “Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982″ and that passing out the free baskets of dough conveys “Italian generosity.”

Darden loses full board in activist sweep [Reuters]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.