[Ed. – Like breadsticks that taste like hot dog buns are a bad thing?]
Hedge fund Starboard Value delivered the mother of all food reviews this week with a 294-page slide presentation tearing apart Darden Restaurants, the struggling parent company of Olive Garden. It charges the Italian chain with all manner of incompetence—from serving too little alcohol to serving too many breadsticks—but the most powerful accusations are reserved for its pasta.
Here’s why: Olive Garden has stopped salting its pasta water.
“According to Darden management, Darden decided to stop salting the water to get an extended warranty on their pots,” Starboard, which is in a proxy fight for control over Darden’s board, explains. “Pasta is Olive Garden’s core dish and must be prepared properly. This example shows how disconnected Darden management is from restaurant operations and how little regard Darden management has for the guest experience. If you Google ‘how to cook pasta,’ the first step of Pasta 101 is to salt the water.”
Elsewhere, Starboard calls the decision to stop salting “appalling,” and concludes that it “results in a mushy, unappealing product that is well below competitors’ quality despite similar cost.” …
Anyway, Starboard also says that these days Olive Garden’s breadsticks taste like “hot dog buns.”