The Ratings Game: Olive Garden wins with extra meat in the chicken Alfredo

Darden Restaurants Inc. attributed its fiscal third-quarter earnings beat to a number of factors, among them, customers reacting favorably to menu enhancements like extra chicken in Olive Garden’s chicken Alfredo, and their willingness to pay more to get more.

Darden DRI, +1.53% reported 2.8% same-restaurant sales growth, led by Olive Garden and The Capital Grille, both with 4.3% growth.

Check average was up 4.2%, owing to pricing and menu mix, according to Eugene Lee, chief executive at Darden.

“This mix was driven primarily by consumer preference as guests reacted positively to our promotions and our chicken Alfredo entrée that now contains 50% more chicken,” he said on the earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript.

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