Olive Garden Rolls Out Remodel in Texas

A plan to revamp Olive Garden restaurants nationwide is getting its start in Texas.

Three Dallas area stores are among the nine "remodel locations" recently announced by the Italian-American restaurant chain. According to spokesperson Kristen Johnson, more than half of the chain's 700 stores will eventually be updated to reflect the new "Tuscan farmhouse" look.

before_after.jpg

Before and after photos posted online suggest the renovation isn't drastic: The lighting's warmer, and wheeled, upholstered chairs have been replaced by slat-backed wooden chairs (a change that might not be warmly embraced by never-ending pasta bowl eaters). Teal napkins have been subbed for white ones.

Other revamps, according to a press release, include Cypress trees out front, new front doors and freshly-painted walls. There are also new televisions in the bar "to enhance the entertainment value of the space."

A few locations have already been made-over, Drew Masden, president of parent company Darden, told Nation's Restaurant News.

"So far, the impact on brand perception and same-restaurant sales lift has been positive," Masden said.

Update: Just heard from Olive Garden media manager Heidi Schauer, who's back from the restaurant's culinary institute in Italy (apparently the chain's commercials which show its chefs studying sauce techniques in Tuscany are accurate.) Schauer explains Olive Garden's PR firm issued the remodel release in error during her absence: "It was premature," she says.

According to Schauer, the "after" photos the publicist posted were actually shot between the "before" and "after" phases: The teal napkins have since been replaced with gold napkins. And she's not ready to confirm how many restaurants will undergo remodeling. "We are currently testing these enhancements in a handful of restaurants in Texas," she says.

If readers would like to check out the new design, Schauer adds, Olive Garden's holding open houses with free food and wine at the following three locations on April 5-6 and April 12-13.

  • 10280 E. Technology Blvd., Dallas
  • 301 Highway 114 S. Access Road, Grapevine
  • 8020 Bedford/Euless Road, North Richland Hills

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12 comments
Ben
Ben

Yes. I am satisfied with downtowner comment.

Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor Lighting

Hi,This is an awesome makeover. It looks so beautiful now. I would surely give it a visit soon.:)

kergo
kergo

Update: Ahhhh buddy, you don't need to go to Tuscany to learn to open canned sauce and dump it in a pan.

Breaking News: Par cooked breadsticks are available everywhere!

This just in: The sky is blue, and monkeys scratch each other butts!

Jacob
Jacob

It's amazing that this "food critic" can find the time to write up an article (that amounts to a half-assed ad for Olive Garden, when she couldn't (read: wouldn't) spend more than five minutes to check out a Vegan restaurant that won PETA's award.

Maybe I'm just crazy, because I'm from Portland, Oregon, but I can't help but laugh when I compare the food "articles" from this Dallas rag to the ones in the Portland Mercury. Which is a magazine just as ridiculous, but a thousand times better.

Rob
Rob

Awesome.

Mike3647
Mike3647

Looks like their PR firm is as bad as their food.

Downtowner
Downtowner

Looks like they only updated the color saturation in their photos.

kergo
kergo

BTW, OG is not "Italian American", it is just American, and a huge insult to those of us who are of Italian descent. Throwing a name like Tuscan on something doesn't automatically make it fancy or good!

kergo
kergo

Yeah, but it's still Olive Garden, and it is flat out nasty! I'd eat at 7-11 before I'd plop money down for that crud. Daddy always said you "cain't shine a turd!". You know what, I believe Daddy was right.

Olive Garden, Big Lots, K Mart, Pancho's.....all the same.

Keithdylan
Keithdylan

To paraphrase Artie Lange, it's still the kind of restaurant my Italian grandmother would come out of the grave to beat me if she found me eating there.

cp
cp

They look the wheels off the chairs too.

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