Olive Garden officially unveiled its design revamp Tuesday, which includes a new logo and website, in two Florida restaurants, and said it will roll out the new look to 75 locations this year.

The 837-unit division of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc. also said it was launching a new online to-go platform for desktop and mobile computer users at all U.S. restaurants. Guests can pay online and pick up orders at designated parking spots at Olive Garden restaurants nationwide.

“As we continue to update our brand experience, we needed to send a strong signal to our guests that there's something new and exciting at Olive Garden,” said Jay Spenchian, executive vice president of marketing at Olive Garden, in a statement. “Our new remodel design, web experience and logo are designed to do just that.”

Olive Garden said it accommodated the new design by removing walls to create a more open floor plan and adding more flexible seating for large parties.

The remodeled restaurants are in Fort Walton Beach and Winter Park, Fla. Olive Garden spokesperson Tara Gray said a third unit is under construction in Pensacola, Fla.

Remodeled restaurants include updated all-white plates. Signage features Olive Garden’s new logo, which was updated after more than 15 years.

Darden has been dedicating resources to Olive Garden to stem sliding same-store sales.

Olive Garden’s same-store sales slipped 3.5 percent in the May 15-ended fourth quarter. The brand’s sales have been less negative than sibling concept Red Lobster, the 706-unit casual-dining brand that Darden is selling in a $2.1 billion deal to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital. Red Lobster had a 5.6-percent decline in same-store sales in the fourth quarter.

As part of what Olive Garden calls its “ongoing brand renaissance,” the division plans to begin testing tabletop tablets this year as the parent company works to improve sales at what will be its biggest brand after the Red Lobster sale.

“Olive Garden provides a strong foundation for the overall Darden business,” said Eugene I. Lee Jr., Darden’s president and chief operating officer, in a recent earnings call with analysts. “It’s a premier brand in casual dining, with average restaurant volumes of $4.4 million and industry-leading returns.”

In February, Olive Garden debuted an extensive menu revamp with more than 20 new items, including lighter fare and a dinner customization program.

Olive Garden said Tuesday it is also testing a new menu design and format in more than 30 restaurants, with plans to roll it out nationwide later this year. Remodeled restaurants will feature leather-bound menus with a streamlined format, the company said.

To increase its to-go customers, Olive Garden has created a new mobile and web platform for ordering. Coupons can now be redeemed with online orders, and users have the option to save favorite orders for future transactions and order meals days in advance.

The new online ordering platform is currently available in the United States, and will be available in Canada by the end of the month, spokesperson Gray said.

In addition to Olive Garden and Red Lobster, Darden also owns LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
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