Is Fazoli’s owned by Olive Garden?

Fazoli’s and Olive Garden are both popular Italian-American restaurant chains, which leads some people to wonder if they are owned by the same company. At a quick glance, Fazoli’s and Olive Garden share some similar menu items like pasta, pizza, and breadsticks, which adds to the confusion over their ownership. However, when looking deeper into the history and current operations of each restaurant chain, it becomes clear that Fazoli’s and Olive Garden have different owners and are completely separate companies.

Quick Facts on Fazoli’s and Olive Garden

Here are some quick facts to summarize the key differences between Fazoli’s and Olive Garden:


– Founded in 1988 in Lexington, KY
– Specializes in Italian fast food including pasta, subs, pizza and desserts
– Has over 200 locations primarily in the Midwest and South
– Owned by JMC Restaurant Distribution and One Equity Partners
– Headquarters in Lexington, KY

Olive Garden

– Founded in 1982 in Orlando, FL
– Sit-down, full service Italian restaurant chain with a focus on family-style service
– Has over 800 locations across the U.S. and Canada
– Owned by Darden Restaurants, Inc.
– Headquarters in Orlando, FL

As you can see from the high-level overview, Fazoli’s and Olive Garden differ in their ownership, number of locations, geographic scope, and service style as quick service vs. full service restaurants. This makes it clear that they are completely separate companies, despite some menu similarities.

History of Fazoli’s

To understand why Fazoli’s is not owned by Olive Garden, it’s helpful to look at the origin and evolution of each brand individually, starting with Fazoli’s. Here are some key facts about the history of the Fazoli’s restaurant chain:

– Founded in 1988 by Carl Howard in Lexington, KY
– Howard’s goal was to create fast, affordable Italian food with unlimited breadsticks
– Opened the first location in Lexington, KY in 1988
– Added drive-thru windows at some locations to enhance convenience
– Expanded primarily in the Midwest and South throughout the 1990s
– Reached peak of over 400 locations by the early 2000s
– Faced declining sales and closed about 200 locations from 2003 to 2011
– Purchased by JMC Restaurant Distribution in 2011
– JMC refreshed brand image, menu offerings, and remodeled restaurants
– As of 2023, there are 210 Fazoli’s locations across 16 states

As this timeline shows, Fazoli’s has been an independent company with its own unique ownership history since it was founded in 1988. It has never been owned by Darden Restaurants or been part of the Olive Garden brand.

History of Olive Garden

Now let’s look at the history of Olive Garden in comparison:

– Founded in 1982 by General Mills in Orlando, FL
– Opened first location in Orlando in 1982
– Acquired by Darden Restaurants in 1995
– Expanded nationally throughout the 1980s and 1990s
– Continued growth under Darden to become largest casual dining Italian chain
– Reached over 800 locations in the U.S. and Canada
– Shifted brand focus to affordability and family-style service over the years
– Remains owned by Darden Restaurants, which operates several other national chains
– Headquarters and many corporate operations based in Orlando, FL area

Looking at Olive Garden’s history, it has followed its own path as part of General Mills and then Darden Restaurants since it began in 1982. There is no overlap in ownership or management with the independently operated Fazoli’s brand.

Current Ownership Structures

To provide more definitive proof that Fazoli’s and Olive Garden have no shared ownership, here is an overview of their current parent companies:

Fazoli’s Ownership

– Owned by JMC Restaurant Distribution and One Equity Partners
– JMC is a restaurant distribution company based in Louisville, KY
– One Equity Partners is a private equity firm headquartered in New York, NY
– The duo acquired Fazoli’s brand and assets in 2011
– JMC provides operational support and food distribution
– One Equity offers investment and strategic guidance

Olive Garden Ownership

– Owned by Darden Restaurants, Inc.
– Darden is a large restaurant corporation headquartered in Orlando, FL
– Darden owns and operates several other national restaurant chains including LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, and Eddie V’s
– Olive Garden is Darden’s highest revenue brand, making up nearly 50% of total company sales
– Darden is publicly traded on the NYSE under symbol DRI

This breakdown plainly lays out the distinct ownership and corporate structures of Fazoli’s and Olive Garden. Fazoli’s ownership is split between a small distribution company and a private equity firm, while Olive Garden is owned by large public corporation Darden Restaurants that operates many other chains. There is no overlap between the ownership groups.

Geographic Footprints and Locations

Further evidence that Fazoli’s and Olive Garden operate independently can be seen in their geographic footprints and number of locations:

Fazoli’s Locations

– Approximately 210 locations as of 2023
– Primarily located in the Midwest and South regions
– Highest concentration of restaurants in KY, TN, IN, OH, AL and KS
– Also has presence in states like FL, GA, LA, MO, NC, SC, TX, VA, WV
– Very little presence on either coast or in Western U.S.

Olive Garden Locations

– Over 800 locations as of 2023
– Nationwide presence across lower 48 U.S. states
– Locations in every major market and most states
– Also has over 100 international locations in Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador
– Large concentrations of locations across FL, TX, CA, IL, PA, OH, NY

Fazoli’s small footprint concentrated in the Midwest and South contrasts sharply with Olive Garden’s national presence across the U.S. This disparity in locations again points to their separate ownership and operations. If they were commonly owned, you would expect greater overlap in geographic markets.

Menu Offerings and Dining Experience

Although Fazoli’s and Olive Garden both serve Italian-inspired food, their menu offerings, service style, and dining experiences are quite different:


– Serves quick-service Italian food including pizza, sandwiches, baked pastas, and salads
– Known for unlimited free breadsticks with dine-in meals
– Offer pastas, subs, pizzas, wings, and desserts for dine-in, carry-out or drive-thru
– Minimal table service – order at counter and food is brought out when ready
– Lower price points, deals, and combos to provide value
– Casual, family-friendly atmosphere focused on speed and convenience

Olive Garden

– Sit-down, full table service Italian restaurant
– Family-style servings, unlimited salad, and breadsticks
– Broad menu including pastas, chicken, seafood, specialty entrees, soups, and desserts
– Full bar program offering wine, beer, and cocktails
– Higher check averages than Fazoli’s
– Ambiance focused on warm hospitality, quality, and authenticity

The different menus, service styles, price points, and atmospheres make it obvious Fazoli’s and Olive Garden are completely distinct dining experiences despite some menu category overlap. This would not be the case if they shared ownership and brand identity.

Corporate Leadership and Headquarters

Looking at the corporate leadership and headquarters of each company further confirms they are unrelated:

Fazoli’s Corporate Headquarters

– Headquarters in Lexington, KY
– Leadership includes CEO David Hasler and President Steve Bailey
– Small corporate team directing brand strategy and franchising
– Field operations, training, distribution handled by JMC Restaurant Distribution

Olive Garden Corporate Headquarters

– Headquarters in Orlando, FL
– Parent company Darden has leadership team of CEO Eugene Lee and President Rick Cardenas
– Olive Garden has its own President, Dave George
– Large corporate departments for marketing, menu R&D, HR, finance, supply chain and more
– Darden leadership oversees brand strategy and performance

From separate headquarter cities to distinct leadership hierarchies, Fazoli’s and Olive Garden clearly have completely independent corporate structures fitting their different ownership models.


Based on a thorough evaluation of their origins, history, ownership, locations, menus, and corporate organization, there is no evidence that Fazoli’s is owned by Olive Garden or shares any common ownership ties. Key takeaways include:

– Fazoli’s was founded in KY in 1988 while Olive Garden started in FL in 1982 – no shared history
– Fazoli’s is owned by JMC Restaurant Distribution and One Equity Partners, while Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants – no ownership connection
– Different geographic footprints, with Fazoli’s concentrated in the Midwest/South and Olive Garden national – indicating independent operations
– Differing service styles, menus, and dining experiences as quick service vs. full service
– Separate corporate HQ cities, leadership, and organizational structures

While Fazoli’s and Olive Garden share some Italian-inspired menu items like pasta and breadsticks, their ownership, histories, and current restaurant operations are completely separate. Fazoli’s is not owned by Olive Garden or affiliated with its parent company Darden Restaurants in any way. They continue to operate as independent Italian-American restaurant chains.


History of Fazoli’s:


History of Olive Garden:


Ownership and headquarters:


Menus and service compared:


Location comparisons:


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