Darden to open fewer Olive Gardens

Restaurant giant will also hold back price hikes

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Olive Garden.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Darden Restaurants is weeding out some Olive Garden overgrowth. 

The Orlando-based company says it will slow down the pace of new restaurant openings for the flagship Olive Garden chain, as it works to revitalize the brand and catch up to changing dining habits.

Darden will open about 15 new restaurants annually for the next couple of years, down from the 36 per year that it had been opening. The company says it will also "temper" price hikes at its three biggest chains, which include Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse.  

Darden is looking to attract more customers who have cut back on spending and turned to less expensive chains.

"The price premium attached to casual dining is getting tougher to justify," Drew Madsen, Darden's chief operating officer and president, said at the company's investor day.

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