Did you know that there are some 900+ locations of Olive Garden restaurants in the United States? Louisiana has several locations of the "fine dining" yet casual Italian restaurants. The restaurants are known for "breadsticks and salad". Okay, maybe that's what the people I hang out with know about Olive Garden but there is strong sentiment toward those two menu favorites no matter what your taste in Italian food happens to be.

spaghetti with tomato sauce
al62, ThinkStock

In my estimation, one of the reasons Olive Garden has been so popular in cities such as Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport is this. The menu is "Italian" enough for those who enjoy that style of cuisine. Yet, it's simple enough for those whose Italian food knowledge begins and ends with spaghetti and meatballs.

Another reason that Olive Garden restaurants are popular in Louisiana is they are affordable. The restaurant offers an experience that is nicer than a drive thru but not so expensive you have to take out a loan just to pay the tip on the bill. But, there are changes coming and for many in Louisiana who enjoy this aspect of dining at Olive Garden you're going to be disappointed.

Staff Photo
Staff Photo

Darden Restaurants is the parent company of Olive Garden and they announced on a recent earnings call that menu prices at their restaurants would be increasing. While this is not a shock for anyone who has been tracking food prices for the past few years, it will come as a disappointment to those families who might have to rethink a night out because of budgetary concerns.

The price increase in menu items is very much in line with the inflation rate the rest of the country's goods and services providers are seeing. Olive Garden anticipates an increase of 1% to 3% in their consumer prices. However, company officials suggested during the same earnings call in which the price increases were announced that the company had undervalued its product by about 20% over the last five years.

Money in wallet
Nopphon Pattanasri

Unfortunately for Olive Garden, we live in a "what have you done for me lately" world and keeping prices low for the past five years won't resonate nearly as loudly in the court of public opinion as a price increase on breadsticks will.

But if you crunch the numbers the way you'd crunch breadsticks you're not really talking about a lot of money. Let's use breadsticks as an example. An order of 12 breadsticks is $6.99. A price increase of 1% would add about .06 cents to the cost of that item. No, it won't break the bank but if you add 1% to your family's total check you could be looking at more than a few bucks increase in your total spend.

Food Network Magazine Cooking School 2016
Matthew Eisman

Olive Garden didn't reveal exactly when the new price model would go into effect but they did announce that it was coming so you can expect that as you budget your entertainment dollars.

And if you don't want to pay more for your breadsticks, salad, and lasagna you could always try an alternative. Suggestions? Take a look at this list.

11 Bugs You Can Eat In Texas

If grocery prices ever get so high that you have no other option, you might be able to find enough of these bugs to survive on.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow




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