Now Starring … Food


I got to thinking more about Olive Garden’s big plans for Fiscal Year 2015, for which I fully expect to be thanked by the powers at Olive Garden Master Command. Like their PowerPoint slide says, they’re figuring on getting “new plateware that lets the food be the star”. The picture makes it look like the food being the star means the food has to be much closer to the eye. That’s easy enough to attain in photographing, given how starved so many cameras are for fast casual food, but how do you get the same effect in restaurants?

The new plate ware will feature being much closer to the food so it looks bigger.

The obvious way is to keep the patrons’ heads closer to the plates. The simplest way to do that, like I realized, is to take on staff who’ll keep going around and pushing heads closer to the plates. But I’ve realized this can’t work, because incidents will arise when the patrons remember they have access to knives and forks, unless Olive Garden decides to do without cutlery altogether. Perhaps they have, since their PowerPoint slide distinctly spoke about getting new plateware and many people, if you call them and ask if they think forks are plates, will answer, “What? Who are you? How did you get this number?”

Anyway, if Olive Garden is taking this course then I think it’s safe to rule out that they’re going to chopstick-based services because those still allow for a lot of poking. It implies by the end of Fiscal Year 2015 Olive Garden patrons are just going to be tearing their Chicken Somethingorother apart with their hands and chewing it down while hoping the waiter won’t rap them on the back of their necks for sitting too straight.

But that’s madness, because if Olive Garden were to hire a bunch of people to push patrons’ head closer to the plates then they’d have to start paying the employees, and there’s no place in modern business for hiring people that you have to keep paying. The solution has to be technology, because investors are always excited in buying devices and gadgets and other kinds of infrastructure, because those wear out and they can buy new ones later on.

The cheapest thing to do is to have Olive Garden go around and replace all their tables with ones that are taller. Maybe one foot taller, maybe two; it’s going to take maybe the rest of Fiscal Year 2014 to figure out how tall their tables and their customers are, and maybe a couple weeks to go back and double-check when they realize they forgot to write down which measurement was which. This is a promising approach because you just know there are going to be customers who won’t get into the spirit of the thing, and they’ll try bringing yellow pages to serve as a booster seat.

This would be profitable for the yellow pages industry, which right now has to go around stuffing phone books into the dusty spaces underneath the furniture you never move until you’re getting ready to sell the house. But the Strategic Action Plan doesn’t say a word about Olive Garden getting into the yellow page industry, so I have to conclude they either aren’t going the higher-table route or they’re hoping to get into the yellow pages market before anyone else catches on. So I guess I just spoiled it.

Affixing to each plate one of those book-magnifying type plates, I mean the kind you see through instead of eating on, seems like a good way to make the food bigger. But that’s got the objection that they’ll just encourage people to practice their sneezing. Also there’s a chance kids might eat there and there’s the obvious issues of sibling cudgeling.

So I conclude that this is going to require getting new chairs, ones with backs that arch steeply forward. By this simple act of encouraging people to lean forward faces will be that much closer to the plates, and the food will look that much bigger, and the only operating cost is in developing new ways to stack chairs. This will also solve the problem of people swinging their chairs around backwards to sit, which is a major problem, according to people called at random who thought they were finally going to get to use their answers to that plateware question.

Better Eating for 2015


I don’t think I’m saying anything too outrageous if I assert that Olive Garden is a restaurant which exists and has some definite traits in addition to its existence. I wouldn’t make many more strong assertions about it because I can’t really work up the energy to, but that might change come Fiscal Year 2015. According to the Strategic Acton Plan put forth by Olive Garden corporate overlords Darden, Olive Garden has a Strategic Action plan to put forward, and it’s easily the most gripping Strategic Action Plan I’ve read in hours. Among other things their Holistic Core Menu and Promotion Plan (page 21) says they hope to offer “New Culinary-Forward Platforms”, with a side serving of “Simple, Compelling Price-Pointed Promotions,” for which I think everyone who’s struggled to chew down the old, bland, price-unpointed promotion will be grateful.

The new plate ware will feature being much closer to the food so it looks bigger.

I also appreciate that, according to page 23, Fiscal Year 2015 will see “New Plateware That Lets The Food Be The Star”, as opposed to the current plateware, which upstages the food by pulling all those first-year drama student tricks like standing upstage and dropping props and coughing during key moments in the food’s monologue. But I also appreciate the preview from the Strategic Action Plan since, as the picture indicates, apparently the major breakthrough in Olive Garden plateware is that they’re finally using their digital cameras’ Macro feature. Either that or the plan is to have newly-trained staff keep pressing patron’s heads closer to the table, at least until they admit the stardom of their “Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich” or “Pappardelle Pescatore”. Either way, it’s going to be exciting.

And now I just wonder when the Olive Garden Fiscal Year starts, and I bet you weren’t thinking at all about that question when you got up this morning (Olive Garden financial affairs experts excluded from this bet). Also “plateware” is a thing that’s not just dishes and cutlery, I guess?