The days of finding a complimentary bread basket on every restaurant table is quickly coming to an end. A recent exchange between the Olive Garden chain and shareholder Starboard highlighted the divide over this practice. Starboard’s position is that unlimited breadsticks are a waste of money and food, but Olive Garden is determined to continue the practice. The Italian restaurant brand claims that the breadsticks are a crucial part of their atmosphere of generosity, but some critics don’t agree.
Many restaurants are reversing the trend entirely and choosing to market higher quality bread as an appetizer or side dish. This reduces waste for people following low carb diets who wouldn’t nibble on free bread anyway. Other restaurants are choosing to keep it free, but only send it out to the diners when requested to prevent waste too. Of course, many diners feel like it’s a tradition that deserves to stay. Some famous food critics have gone as far as to call it a sign of greed on the restaurant owner’s part. However, rising costs for food and consumer focus on the environmental impact of wastefulness may further the spread of this new trend.