Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden, recently held its earnings conference call. Over the next year, some changes will be coming to its Missouri locations and other locations nationwide. One good thing is that it doesn't look like the endless salad, soup, and breadsticks are going away anytime soon.

Darden Restaurants Earnings Beat Expectations
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New Menu Items

The restaurant chain announced several new menu items to better appeal to changing consumer tastes and preferences. These new menu items include healthier options, plant-based dishes, and innovative pasta creations. The restaurant hopes this will broaden the restaurant's customer base.

Restaraunt Remodeling

Olive Garden will remodel many restaurants to modernize the restaurant ambiance. Expect fresh decor and seating arrangements. Additionally, new technology may also be employed to improve service efficiency.

The last time I remember Olive Garden remodeling and updating locations was around 20 years ago, more or less, so I'd say it's time for a refresh.

Darden Restaurant Chain Reports Fourth Quarter Earnings
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Higher Menu Prices 

Operating a restaurant like Olive Garden costs a lot, and it's not immune to the rising costs of restaurant operations. They say there will be a slight adjustment in menu pricing to reflect the increasing costs of ingredients and operations.

Regarding rising prices, however, the chain emphasized its commitment to providing value and maintaining customer affordability. While I understand increasing costs and raising menu prices, Olive Garden is already the kind of restaurant that's a "treat" for me. So, raising prices isn't likely to get me to go there more often, even if it is fresh and remodeled.

Darden Restaurant Chain Reports Fourth Quarter Earnings
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Other Initiatives: Digital, Sustainability, and Performance/Growth

Like most restaurants or businesses in the corporate world, the Darden Restaurants earnings call touched on some other areas the restaurant chain is working on. These include initiatives to reduce environmental impacts such as eco-friendly packaging, reducing food waste, and sourcing ingredients responsibly. The call also highlighted investments in digital platforms and technology to make it easier to order online and enhance customer engagement.

Bottom Line

Expect to pay more for your next meal at Olive Garden in Missouri. However, over the next year or so, you can also expect new menu items, a refreshed restaurant dining experience, and those unlimited breadsticks that I always eat too many of.

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