In a sign of the times, one of the nation’s biggest mid-price restaurant chains is putting its prices on a diet.
The Orlando Sentinel reports Darden Restaurants — which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster and other chain restaurants — is cutting prices and offering specials at some of its properties to attract customers.
Over the summer, Red Lobster did a $15 special for a four-course seafood feast. As a result, overall sales at their locations jumped 20%. You simply have to discount right now to get people to spend.
Meanwhile, Olive Garden is also slashing its prices. The chain will roll out a new lunch special soon: A half-Panini sandwich with unlimited soup or salad for $6.95, in emulation of competitor Chili’s.
Food trucks taking over metro areas
In another trend I’ve noticed, food trucks are taking over a lot of metro areas across the country. Every meal at a food truck takes a meal away from a traditional sit down restaurant. So it will be interesting to see, city by city, whether local governments are hostile to or supportive of food trucks.
As for me, I have an anti-intellectual bias against food trucks based on having traveled extensively in the Third World. I learned very early in my Third World travels not to eat from street stalls. That’s carried over to inform my opinion of food trucks and carts, our equivalent in the United States.
I know intellectually that the health standards are there for our food trucks, just like they are for regular restaurants, but mentally I haven’t been able to get past that.