The Olive Garden: all-you-can eat for hedge fund raiders


I don’t get it. I never salt my pasta water.

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You really should. Unsalted pasta tastes a bit like library paste.


That’s why God gave us puttanesca sauce.


I have no love for Olive Garden (food poisoning twice, never again), but I still miss Mervyn’s. Decent quality clothes for darn good prices.


These guys may be evil corporate raiders… but they were still completely right about the food.

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Saying they don’t salt their pasta water is “hilarious”?

bonus points for slipping ‘puttanesca’ into a conversation.

No way man, the bonus points are when you taste it. Mmmmmm!

If you add a small amount of salt to the water before you boil the pasta, it’ll boil at a higher temperature and reduce the cooking time slightly. I do this every time I boil water for something that won’t taste awful with salt.
I probably wouldn’t be able to tell if someone had put a pinch of salt in the pan of water they boiled my pasta in or not though.

Slightly, yeah. You’re technically correct (the best kind of correct! :slight_smile: ) but the amount you’d need to raise the temperature enough to significantly alter boiling temperature would put your pasta well into the inedible zone.

A 3% NaCl solution (30g in 1 litre) would raise the boiling point of water by about half a degree C (assuming my WolframAlpha-Fu is strong. It might not be. Rum has been consumed.).


Damnit, I’ve been lied to!
Well, no more salt in my pasta water (it’s not like I could taste it).

It’s not clear what great moral good is served by this multi-billion dollar buffer of real estate owned by the Olive Garden. It seems like a perfectly reasonable decision to trim their reserves down to be closer to the standard in their industry.

Suppose you and your buds put together a few thousands of dollars to fund the creation of a new restaurant. And after a couple years it had (unlikely) made a bunch of money.

David Dayen’s definition of theft: the investors taking some of the profits back.

Continued survival of the chain through both economic expansion and economic recession?

The hedge fund guys would argue that the buffer serves primarily to ensure the survival of the chain through bad management.

I see the point of buffer, but there’s plenty of situations where excess buffer is simply management self-serving. Hedge funds and “shareholder value” have their flaws but the principal agent issue of management is also a real problem.

The way that Cory says that the Red Lobster had its profits cut “in half” after they sold their real estate really seems to be based on a pretty unsound position of: let’s just measure the value this restaurant business produces while ignoring the capital its consuming.

The fact that these are chain restaurants is not negligible. What great innovations or investments is the Olive Garden or the Red Lobster going to do with this cash? If they had neither cash nor real estate but they wanted to raise money would you loan it to them?

Seems like restaurant chains come and go all of the time, and plenty of them hang on past their time, especially if they have cash saved up from the good times. I think there’s plenty of management that is happy to see the life cycle for a business like this be: success & good times, money made, land bought, out of date, out of touch, hide losses, run down value and then go out of business.

If I owned olive garden and there was a billion dollars worth of easy cash in it, I don’t think it’s necessarily raiding to take that money out and see if people really like to eat there enough to pay the rent.

God, I had an amazing pasta puttanesca last night in North Beach and this thread is making me want to have it all over again right now. Gahhhh.

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