Olive Garden is beefing up its menu -- literally.
Today the Italian chain will start serving a $9.99 six-ounce burger to better compete with fast-casual and other sit-down dining chains. Owned by Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI), Olive Garden has been refining its menu as it struggles to attract Americans amid fierce competition in the aftermath of the economic downturn.
Darden Chief Executive Officer Clarence Otis has been advertising three-course meals aimed at budget-conscious diners and small plates to lure the young, bar-hopping crowd. The chain's same-store sales dropped 4 percent in the three months ended Aug. 25, and, in October, hedge fund Barington Capital Group LP took a 2.8 percent stake and began pushing for changes.