Pasta lovers who hoped to pick up an Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Pass will have to try their luck on social media over the next few weeks.
Olive Garden opened sales for the $100 pass for unlimited pasta throughout the Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion Monday afternoon. The restaurant sold out of 1,000 passes in 45 minutes.
A spokesperson for Olive Garden's parent company, Darden, said the social media team will do giveaways over the next couple of weeks before the promotion starts Sept. 22.
The deal includes unlimited pasta, salad or soup, breadsticks and soda during lunch and dinner for seven weeks.
“Like Willy Wonka’s golden tickets, I think one of the consumers who gets one of these passes has got themselves a pretty good deal," said Sean Snaith, economist at the University of Central Florida. "I think Olive Garden wins as well because, you know, here we are talking about this.”
Snaith said people will eat more than what they paid. But Snaith said ultimately it’s a smart move by the company, which has seen earnings drop for the flagship restaurant in recent years.
“The bottom line is, yes, the program in and of itself is not designed as a money maker," Snaith said. "This is something that they’re going to take a loss on with these passes.”
Snaith says when it comes to dollars and cents and reviving the company name, they are getting a million dollar marketing campaign for pennies on dollar.
“Here they’re going to get it for thousands,” Snaith said.
Some restaurant managers may also have extra passes available for purchase.