Food waste and financial performance: Should Olive Garden drop unlimited breadsticks and salad from its menu?

Murat Kizildag, University of Central Florida
Bendegul Okumus, University of Central Florida
Joe Hutchinson, University of Central Florida


This case study discusses how unlimited and free breadsticks and salad offered in Darden’s (NYSE:DRI) Olive Garden restaurants have contributed to food waste and reduced profitability. This long-standing menu offering sheds lights on the negative impact of increasing amounts of food waste on restaurant sales margins and food costs. It is discussed whether Olive Garden can reduce food waste and increase profit margins with a modification to its unlimited breadstick and salad offerings. Specific discussion topics focus on food waste reduction, cost controls, and financial performance.