Olive Garden Is Doing Very Well Again. Here's an Astonishing Reason Why

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

There are some existential questions that never get old.

Why, for example, do Prius drivers insist on sitting in the outside lane, while going slower than cars in the other lanes?

Why do software engineers need to watch so many cartoons?

And why do people still go to Olive Garden?

Now, though, it appears to be experiencing a return to glory that Conan O’Brien would envy.

Marketwatch reports that Olive Garden’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, is enjoying a large boost to its share price.

Of course there’s the fine takeout packaging, the child-tolerant nature of the staff and the advertising that allegedly makes people hungry just by looking at it. (Seriously.)

And yes, Olive Garden’s reputation seems to be holding up far better than many fast casual chains, who struggle to remain relevant as millennials order their Hello Fresh and Home Chef.

It’s the fifth pillar of Olive Garden’s robust edifice that is most surprising: the cleanliness of its bathrooms.

I fear some might scoff at the notion. Can a clean bathroom really make such a difference?

But don’t bathrooms speak loudly about the buildings they’re in and the people who manage them? 

If a bathroom is clean and well-designed, doesn’t it suggest that someone has bothered to make it so? 

And if they have, indeed, bothered doesn’t it offer a clue that the restaurant might have some standards of, say, hygiene?

As well as of hospitality? 

When you have guests for dinner, don’t you rush around your bathroom at the last minute and make sure the towels are clean, there’s no toothpaste stains in the sink, the very telling things in the waste basket are discreetly removed and the magazines have been put back in a neat pile?

I find small elements of admiration creeping toward Olive Garden for, well, simply for bothering.

Yes, I’m sure the breadsticks, Pasta Passes and general large dollops of food are enticing for many.

And I have a feeling not too many people actually say: “Let’s go to Olive Garden tonight, so that we can go to the bathroom!”

The subliminal appeals of certain places, however, should never be underestimated.