Late last week, hedge fund managers who've taken a big stake in Olive Garden's parent company released a long slideshow detailing ways in which they think the brand is being mismanaged. Perhaps the most damning revelation was that Olive Garden doesn't salt its pasta water — an extreme culinary no-no.
Today, Darden Restaurants is back with a comprehensive defense of its track-record.
Regarding the controversial unlimited breadsticks and salad, for example, they say "Olive Garden's salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982. It conveys Italian generosity and our salads have the highest loyalty rating of any menu item based on the menu satisfaction surveys we conduct."
Back in the real world, restaurants in Italy often like to annoy American visitors with mysterious undisclosed bread charges. But more to the point — the entire Darden counter-presentation has nothing to say about salting the water. And to be clear, this is a 22 slide presentation. They had plenty of opportunity to explain themselves, apologize, or deny it. Instead, they're just keeping quiet.