Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Dining Out With Darden

Bracha Arnold
March 21, 2023
Dining Out With Darden

Darden Restaurants is one of the world’s largest restaurant groups. The company owns nearly 2,000 restaurants, from its higher-end concepts such as Eddie V’s and The Capital Grille to its more casual dining options, which include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse. With restaurants across the country continuing to feel the inflationary pressures, how is the brand faring? We take a closer look. 

Outdoing the Competition

Darden has eight restaurant chains in its portfolio – Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Yard House, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. Each brand caters to a wide range of price points, with the average check per person in fiscal 2022 ranging from $16.50 at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen to $109.00 at Eddie V’s. 

And the company’s reach is still growing, with Darden adding new locations of its current chains and hoping to welcome a new restaurant to its portfolio. Since August 2022, overall year-over-year (YoY) visits to the full portfolio of Darden restaurants trended above traffic overall restaurants in nearly all months examined, with January and February 2023 YoY visits up 10.1% and 2.0%, respectively. And although some of the strength in early 2023 is helped by a favorable comparison to an Omicron-plagued January 2022, the consistent outperformance of the wider full-service restaurant sector still highlights Darden’s ability to succeed in a difficult economic environment. 

The company's efforts to ease consumers' inflation-induced budgetary burden may be playing a role in its success. Despite the rising operations costs in the restaurant space, many Darden concepts have doubled down on their value-proposition by maintaining price increases below the inflation rate to stay competitive in a highly challenging retail climate. This is likely helping to build customer loyalty as would-be diners feel confident they can get the best price for their meal at a Darden location. Still, the company is not immune to the overall slowdown in discretionary spending and difficult comparisons to a strong 2021, highlighted by the company’s slight YoY visit dips in the second half of 2022.

A Wide Buffet of Options

Darden’s overall portfolio is successfully performing even amid the current economic headwinds. And all concepts saw a significant YoY visit spike in January 2023, thanks to the Omicron-induced drop in visits in early 2022. But digging into the visit data for the individual brands provides some insights as to the current state of restaurant consumers. 

Eddie V’s, Darden’s fine dining concept with the highest average check per person in fiscal 2022, has been particularly successful, with February 2023 visits up 7.3% relative to February 2022. This strength seems consistent with the more muted impact inflation has had on higher-income households.

On the lower end of Darden’s pricing spectrum, Olive Garden, the Darden brand with the most locations, saw positive YoY monthly visit trends for three out of the past five months, with February foot traffic up 3.6% compared to February 2021. LongHorn Steakhouse, the company’s second-largest concept, also performed well, with February traffic up 1.4% despite the 1.5% YoY dip in nationwide full-service restaurant visits. The rise in food-at-home costs has outpaced the increase in restaurant menu prices, so some budget-conscious consumers are likely still dining out on occasion – albeit less than in 2021. And many of these diners may be trading down from higher-priced restaurants and opting for more affordable brands such as Olive Garden and LongHorn that feel festive without breaking the bank. 

Meanwhile, Darden’s mid-range concepts – Yard House, Seasons 52, and Bahama Breeze – have mostly underperformed the overall Darden YoY visit average, which could be another reflection of consumers’ current trading-down behavior.

Final Bites

Darden's careful pricing strategy should continue to pay off into 2023 as more and more restaurants consider how to manage the rapidly rising cost of goods and labor. With more and more consumers looking to save on dining costs, the company should be well-positioned to weather any economic storm.

For more data-driven restaurant insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
All Eyes on Eyewear
Northwestern U.S. Grocery Dive
Return of the Lunch: Salad Chains Are Thriving
Retail Media Networks – Off the Beaten Track
Bet Your Bottom Dollar: Discount and Dollar Stores Drive Foot Traffic
Ulta & Lululemon: Discretionary Spending On The Up
The Score After Q1: Sporting Goods Chains
Who Uses NYC Airports: Biting Into The Big Apple’s Main Transport Hubs
Off Price: Strength in The Face of Retail Challenges
Visits Improve for Home Improvement
Walmart, Target & Wholesalers in Q1 2023 – The Return of Mission-Driven Shopping?
Department Store Roundup: Q1 2023 Office Index: April 2023 Recap Mall Index, April 2023 – A Rebound on the Horizon?
How Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bankruptcy Impact the Retail Space?
Buffet Restaurants: Filling Up on Foot Traffic
Thrift Stores: Vintage Visits Drive New Age in Apparel
The Windy City: A Hub of Post-Pandemic Opportunity
Diving into Dining Traffic - Q1 2023
Bring On The Joe
A Dollar (or more) For Your Thoughts: Five Below and pOpshelf
Dining Out With The Cheesecake Factory
Retail Foot Traffic Recap – March 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update Office Index: March 2023 Recap
How Did Key Retail Categories Perform in Q1 2023?
Northeastern USA Grocery Dive
Movie Theaters Storylines for 2023
Ollie's Bargain Outlet: Discounters are Evolving
Leveraging Brick-and-Mortar Retail in 2023
America’s Evolving Work Patterns: A Deep-Dive into New York and Chicago Mall Index March 2023
Tuning Into Record Stores
Five Franchises To Watch in 2023
What’s Next For Domestic Tourism?
It’s Showtime! Movie Theaters in the Spotlight
5 Limited Time Offers (LTOs) Driving Restaurant Traffic
Department Store Deep-Dive: Belk
Regional Grocery Chains Staying Ahead of the Competition
Five Chains that Rightsized for Success
Unlocking the Potential of Offline Retail Media Networks
Dining Out With Darden
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike & lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact