The Never Ending Pasta Bowl Is, In Fact, Probably Going to End, Says New Olive Garden CEO

Goodbye to unceasing mediocrity, thanks to low profit margins

Create your own pasta--Spaghetti, Traditional Meat Sauce and Meatballs at Olive Garden photographed in Hyattsville, MD. The Never Ending Pasta Bowl at the chain may disappear next year.
Goodbye, endless pasta promotion?
Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images

In a move that, well, we kind of agree with, Olive Garden’s incoming CEO Ricardo Cardenas is suggesting that the Never Ending Pasta Bowl may go away next year.

“We don’t know if or when we’ll bring it back,” Cardenas said, according to Insider.

It turns out that while the Italian restaurant chain did pretty well this year — sales were up 5.2% over the same period in 2019 and 29% over a pandemic-laden 2020 — the promotion doesn’t do a lot for the restaurant’s bottom line. As a reminder, the Pasta Bowl allows customers unlimited servings of pasta, along with breadsticks and salad, for about $11. The restaurant also sells never-ending pasta passes for $100.

In 2019, the promotion only resulted in a paltry 1.5% increase in sales; as well, to-go sales (which obviously can’t include “unlimited” options) now make up an increasing amount of the chain’s business.

The good news? Since people only really care about the breadsticks, those remain a fixture with entrees … along with options for unlimited soup or salad, which I guess is great for the zero people who take those options.

Dennis Lee at The Takeout sums up this infinite loss nicely: “How many bowls of pasta can you eat in one sitting, anyway? Like, I enjoy a nice dinner of rigatoni now and then, but having an unlimited amount seems like flying too close to the sun.”


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