We're NEVER going back to the Olive Garden!
Kidding - I am absolutely going back - every Tuesday before the podcast actually. BUT... we noticed something crazy at the "OG" that we don't often witness at other restaurants - the sheer entitlement. But what causes the OG crowd to feel like they're owed more than bottomless bread baskets and endless salads?
Here's our theory: pricing, freebies, and exclusivity.
Weird parallel incoming: Hermes bags are the opposite of Olive Garden. The lowest prices Hermes bag is $10,000. Yeah - no, that wasn't a typo surprisingly. And when Hermes calls you to buy a bag you hate? You say "absolutely - let me just take an entire day off of work and a second mortgage."
So why does Olive Garden get crazy clients and screaming kids when they don't charge an arm, leg, and left kidney in exchange for leather? Well - let's dive into the endless breadsticks and talk about it.
🤑 Highest End of a Low Budget vs Lowest End of a Higher Budget
Darden Restaurant Group owns both Olive Garden and Seasons 52 (think: OG's cooler, older cousin who doesn't visit often because they're living in Europe building an art studio). Seasons 52 is on average $15 higher per plate than Olive Garden. For those with more well-rounded wallets, Seasons 52 is on the cheaper side compared to the likes of Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Mortons, and Fogo de Chao (shoe? chow?).
But the Garden Olives appeals to a more budget-conscious buyer (ahem - the twins) and thus likely falls at the top of that person's budget. Meaning - they have high expectations for our bread basket bastion. And why wouldn't they - these folks want the royal treatment for this budget buster and only endless bread, buckets of salad, free butter, and bottomless diet cokes will suffice!
🆓 Those Freebies Will Cost Ya
🎁 "If I give my client more for free they'll likely love me forever!" Helloooo recipe for codependency! Listen - giving something for free once may build good vibes. But giving something free three times builds expectations. Giving something for free 5 times? Builds dependence. And then charging the sixth time? Recipe for resentment.
😡 Because the OG gives so much for free, folks would suddenly be APPALLED if we were charged for the breadsticks. Why? We don't think "Wow Olive Garden, you're so nice for giving us so much for nothing" but rather, 😠 "How rude - you're charging for something that you have for FREE before!? I'M MAD!"
🧺 Endless is the End
You can't sustain free unless you work off of scale ⚖ - something a global chain of 893 Olive Gardens can accomplish - one baker in their home kitchen? Not so much. Giving things for free or competing on price = the quick end to any cottage home business.
We only have 24 hours in the day. Might as well spend those hours getting the highest ticket sales rather than budget-busting tire kickers. 👟 Cookies are a luxury - they're the Hermes of the boutique food world. Folks aren't trying to give people food to live on - no, they want to impress their friends with a fancy edible gift that embodies how much they love and cherish that person.
🦖 Why else would you get a purple dinosaur iris flower set?! 🌷