Author Archives: jillcagz


Caron, John. “Darden Restaurants: Formula for Growth.” Interview. ANA. Association of National Advertisers, 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

The chief marketing officer of Darden Restaurants speaks about their marketing strategies.

“Darden Restaurants – A Leader in the Full-Service Restaurant Industry.” Darden Restaurants. Darden Concepts, Inc. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

This is the Darden official site that is filled with information about them.

“Darden Restaurants, Inc.(NYSE: DRI).” Darden Restaurants, Inc. Hoover’s Inc. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

A site from ebsco that gives a back ground and history of Darden food and its subsidiaries.

Elliott, Stuart. “Red Lobster Campaign to Showcase Some of Its Own Workers.” The New York Times. The New York Times Publisher, 24 July 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

This discusses Red Lobsters new marketing plans in detail with references.

Gasparro, Annie. “Olive Garden Hopes Return to Basics Will Aid Sales.” The Wall Street Journal. MarketWatch, Inc. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

This discusses the recent earnings of Olive Garden and what the company has in mind to turn it around.

Makarski, Alex. “Restaurant Marketing – 5 Surprising Restaurant Marketing Lessons for a Economic Slow-Down.” Restaurant Management. Restaurant Report LLC. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

An article discussing Olive Garden’s marketing strategy and how they keep the customers coming back for more.

Martin, Andrew. “Drawing Up a Menu for America.” The New York Times 10 Feb. 2007. Print.

An interview with  Clarence Otis Jr., the chairman and chief executive of Darden Restaurants, discussing their struggles at the time and how they plan to rise above them.

“Olive Garden Italian Restaurant.” Olive Garden Italian Restaurant. Darden Concepts, Inc. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

Olive Garden’s official website that discusses some interesting things.

Research Proposal: Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants Inc. is a parent company of 7 difference chains. Both Red Lobster and Olive Garden have always been a part of the Darden Company. It seems they have a tendency to create their own chains rather than buy out existing ones. This year though, they went against this tradition and bought 2 small sister seafood chains. They have since merged into one chain, offering a higher quality seafood than that found at Red Lobster. Therefore, they are not really competitors.

As I look more into this, it seems their larger chains are the ones that need to use promotions to sell food. Their smaller chains each have their own flare that seem to sell themselves. For example Seasons 52 is an adult, health oriented restaurant. They do not sure butter in any of their dishes and all meals are under 475 calories. As the seasons change, so do the menus so that they can offer food relevant to the season. Surprisingly, it is quite reasonable pried with entrees ranging from $12 -$27. Since restaurants similar Seasons 52 are a rarity, they do not need to have promotions to draw in crowds from competitors.

As I delve further into this, it seems more and more that Darden company is looking more and more to sell concepts and atmospheres than food. It works for them though. They have consistently been on the Fortune 500 list since 1997, and just this year they were listed in the top 100 companies to work for. I’m still not sold though.

Are You Really Buying the Food?

It is my personal belief that people eat at Olive Garden not for the food, but for the idea of eating real Italian food. The unlimited portions sure do help with the decision as well. With this in mind, I wonder how many other restaurant fall into this category?

Because chains had a wider clientele, they are more like to sell ideas over food. The next one I could think of as doing this was Red Lobster. “Sea food differently” is the current slogan, but it hasn’t been for long. It seems like red lobster has cycled through quite a few slogans over the years such as: “For the seafood lover in you”, “Come see what’s fresh today!”, and “Life on land is dry; Share the love”. Clearly the food isn’t enough to draw people in if they need to perpetually change their marketing schemes. On a side note, Red Lobster also does unlimited portions through out the year.

A little digging around has come to show that Red Lobster and Olive Garden are owned by the same company. It seems that every chain they own has a gimmick. With Darden Restaurants, its seems the food cannot sell itself. I look forward to researching further why people buy into this and the Darden Restaurant Inc. marketing strategy.

Olive Garden

Growing up in my house, Italian food frequently covered our dinner table. Although it may not have always been pretty, the tastes and smells were consistently salivating. Living in New York, you can find Italian restaurants in very town. Each appeal to different crowds, but mostly all producing what I would consider real Italian food. The menu rarely varies much from place to place, but every place puts its own spin on the food. With traces of garlic and basil in almost every meal, whether prepared at home or in our favorite Pizzeria/Italian restaurant Cappriccios II,  it is clear to me that Olive Garden is a travesty to the whole culture. The smell is all wrong. I can’t think of a simpler way to put.

Most meals in my mom’s kitchen are cooked to taste and smell with little regard for recipes. Because of this, I have acquired a similar habit of cooking. Smelling Olive Garden food invokes a disappointing feeling. There is not extra virgin olive oil going into to most of your meals or fresh basil. (I checked some of their recipes online). They claim to train their chefs at a culinary institute in Tuscany, Italy. Having had grown up on the Italian food of New York, I highly doubt that the training is adequate. If they had been truly immersed in the culture like Olive Garden claims, the chefs would have a higher appreciation and expectation of the food that leaves their kitchen. An Italian Restaurant?  There’s a reason that no Olive Garden exists within a 30 mile radius of where I live.

Gingerbread Cookies

In my family, we have many holiday traditions.  One of my favorites though is ginger bread painting. Every year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve,  my mother hosts a huge cookie painting party at our house. Growing up, it was a big ordeal. We would spend hours making the dough the night before. Then over night, we leave in the fridge to chill. The next day we roll out all the dough. Then we get to use all of the cookie cutters that we have acquired over the years. By the end, there is flour and bits of dough everywhere. The counters are covered with about 500 cooling gingerbread cookies. Now that I’m old, my mom gets a break. I basically run the show. I make the dough the night before while she sits and keeps me company. The next day, I roll out and cut most of the cookies. Mommy gets over duty which means she takes them in and out of the oven, and she makes sure they don’t burn.

Later night is when most of the family comes over. We make out own icing; usually we explode a little confectionery sugar on the KitchenAid and the counters. Its all part of the process. Typically we put in the food coloring and give the younger kids colors to mix. They always seem intrigued as the white turns to the color of their choosing.  Everyone has their personal favorite or a cookie they make every year. For me, I always make a Winnie the Pooh cookie. My mom mass produces Santas, complete with glasses. My sister has mastered snowman with striped scarves and carrot noses or the toy soldiers with suspenders. My father takes at, sees the world a little differently; she’s an artist. Therefore her cookies are always to most originally.  The nieces and nephews vary their favorites from year to year, but they typically entail an excess of sprinkles. Those who participate in the cookie painting always anticipate the end of the night. At the end, my father judges all the cookies and picks the best ones from each category. Although he may not be fair, he does make  sure everyone wins some sort of recognition.

To me, its about more than the gingerbread. I love keeping the traditions alive. I can’t wait to host gingerbread painting of my own with my ever growing family. Below a scanned copy of our recipe that has been used for 25 years. It comes complete with stains from years of use and our little notes. Use it well.

From North to South

What’s up guys? I’m Jill. I’m from New York, a little north of the city. I am a computer science major, but thankfully I do not fit the stereotype. Food has always been something I have enjoyed so this class shall be fun. My favorite is of course italian. Its what i grew up on pretty much. There was basically a solid pizzeria on every other street at home. In fact, I worked the one my family ate at since I was 5 for 2 years in high school, Capriccios II. I have to say I’m missing that big time. Everyone seems to watch the food network, but only the baking shows ever really interested me. I love to cook, but cupcakes is where I thrive. I’ve make so many kinds with so many decorations. My specialty would have to be oreo cheese cupcakes. I’m hoping this class will expand my horizons a little and draw me deeper into the food world. 🙂