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Meanwhile, tech boosts Olive Garden’s off-premise sales

A new online ordering system helped to deliver a 13 percent year-over-year increase in Olive Garden’s takeout sales for the quarter ended August 24, according to management of parent company Darden Restaurants.

They noted that the upgraded technology also yielded an improvement in margins because the average check for orders placed through the system is higher than the mean for phoned-in orders.

The company also cited “encourage results” from a limited test of in-store tablets, which customers can use to place orders and settle their checks. Management said the devices have encouraged the sale of add-on items while speeding table turns, though they did not quantify the additional business. They divulged that 60 percent of guests at the test stores opted to settle their bills via the tablets.

Despite the sales benefits of the new To-Go system, Olive Garden’s same-store sales slipped 1.3 percent for the quarter, though the company noted a comp increase of just under 1 percent for August.

Overall, Darden reported a loss from continuing operations of $19.3 million for the quarter, compared with a profit of $42.2 million for the same period of the prior fiscal year. 

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