Olive Garden will gauge the popularity of its blockbuster Never Ending Pasta Pass when it offers the $100 card later this week in far greater numbers than it did the previous two times.
The Italian full-service chain says on its website that it will offer 21,000 of the passes for sale online on Thursday, Sept. 15, compared with the 2,000 it sold last year in a second.
With 10 times the numbers going on sale this year, Olive Garden is hedging its bid, noting the passes will be available for one hour or until all 21,000 are purchased, whichever comes first.
The cards, which in the past have spawned an aftermarket on auction sites like eBay with prices surpassing $2,000, entitle the bearer to unlimited pasta and soda for a given stretch. In the current deal, a bearer can present the pass an unlimited number of times in an Olive Garden and eat for no extra charge between Oct. 3 and Nov. 20, typically a slow period for the restaurant industry.
Prior executions of the program were widely regarded as a hit for Olive Garden, generating buzz and putting the brand back on the minds of customers who had drifted away from the chain.