Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants announced today that, like all businesses hoping to exist in the year 2025, it’s decided to partner up with Amazon. CEO Gene Lee dropped the news in an earnings call, although he didn’t really give any specifics outside of confirming that they have struck this deal with the devil. “Believe it or not, millennials still want to come” to Darden’s restaurants, he started off insisting, before teasing that they’re testing out an Amazon Prime delivery program with that loyal demographic’s name written all over it. “I know you don’t think millennials want to go to restaurants,” he explained to the investors on the call, “but 30 percent of our guests are millennials, versus 24 percent of the population.”
Lee would clearly argue this is because there’s something alluring about Darden’s restaurants — 846 of which are an Olive Garden; the remaining 849 belong to LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s, Bahama Breeze, Yard House, Capital Grille, Season 52, and Eddie V’s — that may or may not rhyme with -eadstick. But that doesn’t mean its brands can stop innovating: “We constantly sit around here thinking about how does Amazon have an impact on our business?” Lee said. It sounds like they’ve already figured it out, though: “The only way Amazon is in our world right now is through Amazon Prime delivery. We have a test going on with them. We’ll continue to partner with them and see if we can make that work.”
Olive Garden has an app now, but hasn’t ventured that firmly into the world of delivery yet, its alleged millennial appeal notwithstanding. (Right now, you have to place a bulk $500 catering order, or use a third-party service like DoorDash.) It’s unclear what Darden is up to with Prime, the part of Amazon that runs its Restaurants arm, but Lee noted Olive Garden specifically is working with “multiple purveyors” right now to iron out food delivery. He gave no timeline, but the implications are obvious: Breadsticks will be coming curbside, whether you’re ready or not.