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Darden's Olive Garden Introduces Change to Model Following Coronavirus Blow to Business

By Rhian Hunt - Mar 24, 2020 at 1:11PM

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The restaurant chain experiments with its first-ever promotion centered on delivery.

After enduring a stock market drubbing from social distancing in response to coronavirus, Darden Restaurants (DRI 1.09%) has launched a first for the chain: a buy-one, get-one-free promotion at its subsidiary Olive Garden that's only available for take-out or delivery orders.  

The new promotion is called "Buy One, Take One, ToGo," and can be ordered online for curbside pick-up or via telephone for delivery.

An Olive Garden restaurant.

Image source: Olive Garden

The idea behind the promotion is that customers can order one meal hot and ready to eat, and get a second meal of equal or lesser value free. The additional free meal comes already cooked, chilled, and wrapped for refrigeration and reheating the next day.

The restaurant has a list of options available for purchase this way. It currently offers six different choices for the main entree, including menu items like "Five Cheese Ziti al Forno" or "Spaghetti with Meat Sauce." This comes with a soup or salad from a list of five, and breadsticks, plus a free "Tomorrow's Entree," drawn from a list of four, including ziti, spaghetti, and cheese ravioli.

Delivery is free on orders of $40 or more, though diners living in California and the other Pacific Coast states have to order a minimum $75 to qualify. For those jittery about COVID-19, a contactless delivery option is available, while pick-up orders are brought to the curbside by an employee to minimize person to person exposure.

The promotion can currently be applied to any number of meal orders, and has no published ending date. The restaurant has not yet indicated if this new promotion is a temporary special for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic or if it's now a permanent delivery feature.

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