Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Passes are back, and this time, bigger and better than ever. On Monday, the Italian chain restaurant released a statement where it said that the unlimited passes are back, with ten times more units than in 2015, which means there will be twenty-one thousand passes available for sale.
A very fast internet connection is needed, last year, when there were only two thousand passes available, they were all sold in a second, according to Olive Garden web page.
The passes cost one hundred dollars plus sales tax with free shipping, and they allow the recipient to eat as much pasta (with toppings!), coca cola, unflavored iced tea, bread sticks and salad as they can for seven weeks. The promotion starts on October 3 and finishes on November 20.
And there is a pasta dish for every taste. Olive Garden announced that their Chicken Alfredo would be included in the pass, for those who love creamy chicken. Vegetarians also have options, like the Five Cheese Marinara, and even gluten free options, like the Rotini combined with the Traditional Meat Sauce and Italian Sausage.
The sale will last one hour, or until the passes are sold out, and will begin this Thursday, September 15 at 2:00 pm ET to 3:00 pm ET. After the standard sales end, twenty-one passes will be put up for a charity auction, whose proceeds will be donated to Feeding America.
Time for reinvention
After Olive Garden had noted that its sales had diminished for the “all you can eat” establishments, the business decided to reinvent itself, and as such, created the Never Ending Pasta Passes.
It turns out it was an excellent idea. Both years the passes sold in one second, and many appeared on Ebay, for up to three hundred dollars each.
The idea is not to win money, but publicity and attract again the almost lost customer base.
“Last year, we saw our Pasta Pass holders use their passes an average of 28 times over the seven-week promotion—often bringing along groups of friends. We were able to generate new excitement for a fan-favorite promotion while tapping into our most loyal guests and allowing them to serve as brand ambassadors” said José Duenas, Olive Garden executive vice president of marketing.
If one buy the pass, and then go to all twenty-eight visits, each meal will barely cost $3.50, which is very cheap. However, detractors of “all you can eat” restaurants say the 100,000 calories included in the passes are simply not worthy.
A long history
Olive Garden was inaugurated in Orlando on December 13, 1982. Seven years later there were almost one hundred and fifty restaurants all over the US, making one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains ever.
The company is “sister” of the other very popular Red Lobster chain restaurants. Both are owned by Darden Restaurants, named after Bill Darden, Red Lobster founder. In 2010, Olive Garden generated $3.3 billion in sales. However, this started to diminish a couple of years later.
Sales have picked up again after several smart marketing moves, including the Never Ending Pasta Passes and by January 2016 the restaurants’ revenue was of $3.8 billion.