Jimmy Fallon’s Fake Commercial Points Out a Real Olive Garden Problem

On Monday, the sort-of-Italian mega-chain introduced a line of breadstick sandwiches that come with a side of unlimited breadsticks.
May 13, 2015·
Josh Scherer has written for Epicurious, Thrillist, and Los Angeles magazine. He is constantly covered in corn chip crumbs.

“Breadstick Garden: When you’re here, you’re breadsticks!” If it were up to Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, that would be the casual dining conglomerate’s new, possibly more accurate name and slogan.

Last night, the comedian debuted a parody commercial for the new, very real breadstick sandwiches (available at all locations June 1) and went a step further by advertising a very fake “Never-ending breadsticks, even after you leave the restaurant” promotion. Fallon says the restaurant will have a trained Olive Garden baker break into your home and make breadstick after breadstick after breadstick until you’re forced to call the police.

Though breadsticks seem like an inane, harmless food to pick on, Fallon is not the first person to do so. Last September, after Olive Garden watched diner counts fall about 5 percent in two consective years, investment firm Starboard Value, which owns 8.8 percent of parent company Darden Restaurants, put together a scathing 294-page report on the restaurant’s failings. One of the main culprits? Breadsticks.

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The investment firm called the relatively unregulated unlimited breadstick policy an “example of food waste” and claimed that most servers drop off a massive tray for the entire table, only for them to go cold and uneaten. Surveys found that after seven minutes the breadsticks severely deteriorate in quality.

Olive Garden stood by its unlimited breadstick policy, though it agreed that servers should be more disciplined and bring them out as needed. The new breadstick sandwiches will also come with a basket of unlimited breadsticks (seriously), which will likely only exacerbate the food waste problem pointed out in the report.

Baked-goods issues aside, Olive Garden was also ranked the third-worst restaurant to work at by Restaurants.com, and Restaurant Opportunities Center United has criticized Darden for its poor employee policies on overtime and paid sick leave.

It might take more than breadstick subs to pull Olive Garden’s meatballs out of the fire.