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March 2006
How Olive Garden Became Number One in Restaurant Wine Sales
Olive Garden depletes more than a half million cases annually, making it the leading wine seller among the nation's restaurants. How do they do it?
by Mort Hochstein
"Some customers are suspicious. 'What's the catch?' they ask. Others are very happy," said my waiter at the Olive Garden at 22nd and Sixth in New York's Chelsea district. "Some ask for more wine, and I give it to them. Some buy a bottle or several wines by the glass." He was describing what happens when he approaches newly seated diners with one or two open bottles in hand, offering to pour a sample into the fine stemware that is already on the table. "Wine is important at this restaurant," h...
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