Tuesday, May 6, 2014

RIP Red Lobster - Olive Garden Hybrids, Like Tears In Rain

You've probably seen from time-to-time those odd-looking 'combination' restaurants. The one I've seen most frequently is a combined KFC-Taco Bell (both owned by Yum! Brands).  Darden Restaurant group announced today that it will be closing all of its combination Olive Garden-Red Lobster restaurants in light of its plan to spin off Red Lobster.

THIS article today about the closings in the Orlando Sentinel (Darden is headquartered in Orlando) answered several interesting questions raised by this news.   Why are these bizarre combination restaurants built in the first place?  Is it hoped that customers may order food from both?  No.  It's for efficiency, apparently. The Olive Garden and Red Lobster shared a single kitchen in these combination restaurants, and then had separate dining rooms and separate entrances. (The fact that the Italian food at Olive Garden and seafood at Red Lobster could be prepared seamlessly in the same kitchen says a lot, I think, about the cuisine at each.)

What happens when one of these bizarre hybrid restaurants is closed?  The more successful of the two takes over the entire thing, apparently.  These hybrids will all be converted into larger Olive Gardens.  How long does that take?  A mere two weeks.  (And the existing Olive Garden halves will remain open for business the entire time.)

These hybrid Red Lobster-Olive Garden  restaurants were first launched less than three years ago.  A 3 minute segment from CNN Money about them from September 2012, which includes a bullish interview with Darden's CEO, Clarence Otis, has been posted on You Tube HERE.

"All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

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