Olive Garden Is Doing Well Despite Old Rumors Of Closing Forever

There has been some chatter on the internet spreading the word that the popular Italian chain restaurant Olive Garden may soon be closing their doors for good. Understandably, this rumor has upset fans of their affordable prices, generous portions, and of course, their unlimited salad and breadsticks deal. Luckily, the rumor, which started as the result of an online advertisement that ran in December of 2020, seems to be unfounded — meaning Olive Garden is (as far as we know) here to stay.

But why the closing rumors in the first place? Well, according to Snopes, the original advertisement (published by Money Pop) ran with the text "Closing Time: Here's All The Restaurant Chains Closing in 2020" superimposed over an image of the Olive Garden logo. While the image (of course) led people to believe that the subsidiary of Darden Restaurants was among those that would be going under, the article it linked to told a different story, stating that, while the Italian chain may be undergoing a bit of a rough patch, it likely won't be forced to close forever.

Olive Garden is not fully going out of business

Once clicked, the advertisement led to a 50-page (wow!) Money Pop article whose actual headline read "These Popular Restaurant Chains Are Losing Money Fast." The article stated, "Unfortunately for us, that means some of our favorite go-to spots are leaving our towns and cities....Get your online petitions ready, because here is a list of some restaurant favorites that are starting to shut their doors either completely or partially, and others that are losing money quickly." (via archive.today). 

So while the restaurants mentioned by the website may not have been experiencing their best year, many of the chains that had been listed were in fact not closing for good, just shuttering one or more locations. The article with the misleading headline referred only to two individual Olive Garden locations (one in Springfield, Massachusetts and the other in Birmingham, Alabama) as closing, not the whole company. They reported that Olive Garden's "profits dropped as much as 60% compared to 2019 reports," speculating that, "While Olive Garden's customers enjoy the food, a major draw is the dining experience, which means take-out alone isn't going to keep Olive Garden locations open."

Other restaurant chains have also reported less than stellar performances

But Olive Garden wasn't the only restaurant the 2020 Money Pop article singled out (via archive.today). They listed dozens of other restaurants who have had to shut down some branches and shutter locations because they were losing money. Other Italian chains like Sbarro and Carrabba's Italian Grill closed several locations due to underperformance. Recently, some previously successful companies, like the burger chains Roy Rogers and Red Robin, have downsized considerably. Roy Rogers reported going from 600 locations to under 50 in just a few years, while Red Robin reported a 90% decrease in net income in just one year.

Other chain restaurants (like seafood restaurant McCormick & Schmick's, pizza place Papa Murphy's, and Ruby Tuesday) have reported losses of revenue, income, and equity. Quite a few well-known eateries, including the cafeteria-style restaurant Luby's, which was founded all the way back in 1947, have also unfortunately had to close restaurants and lay off a number of staff. Even fast-food juggernaut McDonald's reported their lowest quarterly profits in 13 years and were forced to close 200 locations, Money Pop wrote.

While other chains have filed for bankruptcy, Olive Garden has managed to stay afloat

As far as restaurants that may actually be closing, the Money Pop article mentioned only a handful that had filed for bankruptcy and may soon be forced to close their doors for good (via archive.today). Brio Italian Mediterranean, Bravo Fresh Italian, and Le Pain Quotidien all filed for bankruptcy in 2020; as did Rubio's Coastal Grill, permanently closing 26 locations and declaring bankruptcy in October 2020. Perkins Family Restaurant and their parent company, Marie Callender's, also faced financial difficulty and filed for bankruptcy in recent years. The owners of Bob Evans, a restaurant known for their comfort food, sold the chain to Golden Gate Capital after years of declining performance. It is worth noting that filing for bankruptcy or being sold to another company does not mean any of these chains will necessarily close. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly hit the restaurant industry hard, Olive Garden has been able to stay afloat, offering online and to-go orders in order to serve their customers while still socially distancing. So fans of their hearty pasta and, of course, their mouthwatering breadsticks, can rest easy. The popular Italian restaurant chain does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.