Olive Garden began as a unit of General Mills as part of their restaurant division. Olive Garden is an Italian-themed full-service restaurant.
In 1995 General Mills spun off its restaurant division into a stand-alone company named Darden Restaurants. Olive Garden is Darden Restaurants’ most value-oriented chains, with an average check in 2009 of only $15. The company has received criticism for its claims about a “culinary” school in Tuscany, Italy. There is no school, although the company does send employees to a hotel there during the off-season for a few days each year.
In July of 2014, the company launched a new logo and restaurant design, including the addition of online ordering, as well as smaller lunch portions.
Today Olive Garden is a casual dining restaurant specializing in Italian-American cuisine. Olive Garden has more than 800 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Kuwait. In 2016, the company had annual revenue of $3.8 billion, accounting for more than half of the revenue that parent company Darden Restaurants earns.