A few weeks ago, we started seeing headlines all over the place that said things like “Millennials Are Killing Chains” and “Casual Dining Is In Danger And Millennials Are To Blame.” Although we know we shouldn’t take this information personally, reading the news did kind of make us want to scream “can everybody please stop pinning their problems on millennials?”
Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings were named by Business Insider as examples of chains that have begun to suffer. Business Insider also reported that BWW’s CEO Sally Smith said in a recent letter to shareholders that this is because “Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants.” That's probably because we don’t want to put our phones down long enough to interact with waiters or enjoy a sit-down meal that’s not in front of a TV, right? All joking aside, one casual dining chain, Olive Garden, has made a big move toward appealing to millennials, and it's through a partnership with Amazon.
Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants, the same parent company that owns LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s, Bahama Breeze, Yard House, Capital Grille, Season 52, and Eddie V’s. According GrubStreet, of the 1,695 Darden Restaurant locations, 846 of them are Olive Gardens. Though most casual dining CEOs are talking about millennials hurting business, Gene Lee, the CEO of Darden, recently told investors, "30 percent of our guests are millennials, versus 24 percent of the population." Despite success with the millennial demographic, Darden is still looking for new ways to hold interest. And that's why Darden is testing Amazon Prime delivery.
In the recent earnings call, Gene Lee explained "We constantly sit around here thinking about how does Amazon have an impact on our business? The only way Amazon is in our world right now is through Amazon Prime delivery. We have a test going on with them. We’ll continue to partner with them and see if we can make that work.” As of right now, we don't have any more details about that partnership between Darden Restaurants and Amazon Prime, but we are very interested to know how unlimited breadsticks would work in delivery form.