Food Trends

Olive Garden rolls out biggest Never Ending Pasta Pass promotion ever

Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Pass is going on sale Thursday.

Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Pass is going on sale Thursday.

In celebration of the 21st anniversary of its “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” promotion, Olive Garden is selling 21,000 passes-- or however many of the highly coveted cards it can in one hour-- this year. That’s more than 10 times the amount the restaurant sold in the deal last September.

In 2015 2,000 Never Ending Pasta Passes were claimed in less than one second.

Yes, just one second.

This year, however, the restaurant is giving more guests the opportunity to get an all-access pass to consume seven weeks of never ending soup, salad, breadsticks, soda and of course its pasta. Starting on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. ET, the new round of passes will be available for one hour on the Olive Garden website.

Each pass is $100.  

“Within seconds of last year’s Pasta Pass sale beginning, our most enthusiastic fans clicked ‘purchase,’ becoming part of an exclusive club and the envy of pasta lovers everywhere,” said Jose Duenas, executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden, in a press release.

“We know there are more fans than there were Pasta Passes,” Duenas said, “so we’re expanding the club tenfold to give more guests an all-access pass to our most popular promotion of the year.”

Pasta fans are already flipping over the greater odds of snagging a pass this year.

From Oct. 3 through Nov. 20, every pass holder dining at the restaurant will have access to all he or she can eat. Guests without a Pasta Pass, meanwhile, can take part in a “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” and enjoy unlimited pasta starting at $9.99 throughout the seven-week promotion.

The highly coveted passes spawned plenty of eBay business deals. In 2014, a black market emerged in response to the demand for the passes. Dozens of listings popped up with offers that were marked up nearly 400 percent-- which is still a good deal for those who want to dine at the Italian American chain every day. 

At the time, Olive Garden argued that the passes could not be resold. The passes are personalized with the original purchaser’s name so that they cannot be used by anyone else (although they can take advantage of the free sodas). With tens of thousands of more passes available this year, however, the pasta pass will be hard to ignore.