Darden Restaurants announced recently it plans to renovate more than 70 of its Olive Garden restaurants, making it the latest entry on a growing list of companies that have adapted to market trends.
The company mentioned last year it wanted to test out different styles and modeling projects on it stores, adding that it hoped to begin renovations in late spring.
The company said recently that it wanted to get away from the "Tuscan Farmhouse" and "Via Tuscany" styles it has used in past years. The new style being considered by the company may mimic the look and feel of an Olive Garden located near The Florida Mall in Orlando, Fla.
The look includes brown and red carpeting, dark wood furniture and smaller light fixtures, which will keep the restaurants dimly lit, the Orlando Sentinel notes.
The restaurant is also reportedly toying with the idea of doing away with its traditional green edged plates and replacing with all-white plates. The Olive Garden near the Florida Mall has already switched out its usual brown breadbaskets with wire baskets. They have also replaced the usual salt and pepper shakers with Alessi sea salt and ground peppercorns.
Still, as of this writing, it’s not certain that Darden will adopt that style for all of its restaurants, a spokeswoman said in the report.
Darden's announcement marks a growing trend in the food service industry. Companies all across the U.S. have moved recently to offset the losses suffered during the financial meltdown of 2008.
Bloomin' Brands’ Outback Steakhouse and Carabba’s Italian Grill, for example, have recently renovated several stores in the Orlando area.
“The restaurants will have some new design features. The Outback will be Orlando's first to showcase a new look, which includes a large-open ceiling with heavy timber and light fixtures that suspend light bulbs above and below the timbers. The lobby showcases spices used in the kitchen,” the Sentinel reported.
Spokespersons for the restaurants explained that the changes are the result of company heads agreeing the stores needed to adapt to stay afloat in the quickly changing economy.
“The Carrabba's also will feature a fairly new design that includes some communal tables, an open kitchen with seating nearby and outdoor patio,” it added.
Similarly, Ruth’s Chris Steak House has seen a marked improvement since it decided to loosen things up a bit and added “a touch of whimsy” to its stores, according to Ruth's Hospitality Group Chief Executive Officer Michael O'Donnell.
"With some fairly simple changes in terms of the artwork and some of the way the restaurants look, along with the way we train, the way our servers interacted with our guests, we've been able to come across as a much friendlier organization,” he said.
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This post has been updated.