For years, casual restaurants such as Olive Garden and Buffalo Wild Wings have been battling for your dinnertime dollars, to be the place where you take the kids for a heaping bowl of spaghetti on their birthday or where you slurp beers with your buddies on game night.
But now these sit-down restaurant chains are hungry for your lunch order, too.
Olive Garden is trying to draw a bigger lunchtime crowd by changing up its signature lunch menu offering – a soup, salad and breadsticks meal – with trendy combo options such as risotto balls or parmesan-roasted asparagus.
Red Robin, a full-service burger chain with 500 restaurants, is racing to open outposts of its fast-casual spin-off, Burger Works, in urban locations with big lunchtime crowds. Cracker Barrel is developing a fast-casual concept that will likely debut by July 2016, while Romano’s Macaroni Grill is promising guests that orders from its new takeaway lunch counter will be filled in seven minutes or the meal is free.