This Italian Dine-In Chain is Ending One of the Most Popular Customer Perks In History

All good things must come to an end— Olive Garden’s Never-Ending Pasta Bowl included. On Friday, the chain’s leadership announced plans to phase out the popular deal dating back more than two decades, citing concerns about profitability.

"We know [Never-Ending Pasta Bowl] was a negative impact over the years . . . And so we decided to reduce [our] dependency on [it] this year," said Rick Cardenas, CEO of Darden Restaurants, Olive Garden’s parent company. "As we look forward, we don’t know if we’ll bring and when we’ll bring Never-Ending Pasta Bowl back."

The news comes in addition to reports of a stellar second quarter for Olive Garden, with same-store sales up by 5%—in spite of the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl’s removal from the Olive Garden menu, reports Restaurant Business .

The beloved deal first launched more than twenty years ago, offering Olive Garden customers unlimited servings of pasta and sauce from a seasonal menu. It has inspired multiple spin-off deals, including a "Never-Ending Pasta Pass" and 2019’s extravagant Lifetime Pasta Pass. But 2019 may very well have been the final year to nab this offer. Its now two-year hiatus and Olive Garden’s continued growth during that period seems to have given the chain the confirmation that bottomless pasta should be retired.

Cardenas attributes Olive Garden’s sales growth to strong takeout sales and recent improvements in productivity and workplace efficiency. The chain is now using machine-learning equipped software to predict customer traffic, freeing up managers to focus on employee training.

For Never-Ending Pasta Bowl lovers out there, the news will come as a disappointment. On the bright side, however, no mention was made of phasing out Olive Garden’s never-ending breadsticks. Some deals are simply synonymous with the brand.

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