It may be hard to believe that after several decades of being popular restaurants for lunch and dinner, Olive Garden and Red Lobster have hit a downward trend in business. This news came out recently, and it’s placed both restaurants in a bit of a panic to revamp to prevent a disastrous slide to possibly much worse. Expect to see a step-up in TV ads soon to entice people back to these restaurants that used to be filled to capacity most nights of the week in many towns and cities.
Yes, my own local Olive Garden used to be so crowded for lunches and dinners more than a decade ago that you’d have to wait in the waiting room for close to an hour just to get a table. For many, the food seemed too good to pass up, including at Red Lobster where obtaining supposedly substantive seafood for cheaper was basically hiding the fact that the food was processed. And the same goes for Olive Garden where far too many didn’t notice until being told.
It’s possible more awareness about processed foods has led people to realize that Olive Garden was really faux Italian food, no matter how good it might have tasted. In reality, the good taste was ingredients that just made the food taste more addictive, something we see in many snack foods to entice people to keep eating more and buying more sooner than later.
All you have to see are some of the comments about people who’ve been to an Olive Garden in recent years to see how they scoped out the processed food issue. While the new marketing recently at Olive Garden has been on playing up their “fresh” food, some say that much of the food is pre-made and provides only a generic Italian taste. Nevertheless, you can’t fault Olive Garden for striving toward fresh food and also providing dishes with lighter calories in their rebranding efforts.
It’s clear, though, those who eat out are onto the fakery behind some restaurants that try to bring an essence of a certain ethnic food without being truly genuine. At the same time, many smaller and real Italian and seafood restaurants are still attempting to go up against the big guns in many cities. This time around, they may prosper as people seek out legitimate recipes from independent restaurants.
A Renaissance for the Small Business
Ever since Google added new features that helped people locate local businesses easier, it seems the small business has had a huge boost nationwide. If it’s not entirely that reason, it’s helped people seek out independent restaurants that they otherwise might miss in their own town and cities. Many of those businesses have been brave enough going up against the chain restaurants, and many have failed as a result. When you can find a restaurant that serves real homemade-style Italian food and seafood, you know you’ve found something unique.
In my own hometown, several independent Italian restaurants have existed for years and managed to hang on thanks to finding a loyal force of customers. It’s possible those who sought out real Italian food experiences at Olive Garden finally found the indie places and helped them stay in business even longer. One in my hometown is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and provides affordable prices for legitimate Italian recipes from Chicago. Compared to the more expensive prices at Olive Garden, you can see a picture of what’s happening in America this year.
Local and independent restaurants and other businesses may finally see the renaissance they deserve so we can get back to the days when Ma and Pa operations were on every street corner before corporate chains took over. As some corporate operations continue to underestimate what the people really want, at least many Americans realize they’ve been duped in their food hunts. Now they know they were long missing out on cooking you could once only find at a prominent chef’s home.