Chain Beverage Buzz: April 4, 2011

Olive GardenOlive Garden, part of Darden Restaurants, is remodeling 400 of its 730 locations over the next two years. The remodel, called “Via Tuscany," will showcase the brand’s Italian heritage with a Tuscan farmhouse look. Other additions include upgraded seating and window treatments, as well as new front doors, Tuscan stones, a brick arch and Cypress trees adorning the exterior. Other restaurants in Darden’s portfolio also getting makeovers include Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Buffalo Wild WingsWith an NFL lockout looming, Buffalo Wild Wings is asking viewers to take a stand against the lockout by going to its Facebook page and signing a petition for the “Save Our Season” campaign; TV ads will run during March Madness basketball games. A shortened or cancelled NFL season could be detrimental to Buffalo Wild Wings, which caters to football fans not only by showing the games but by hosting fantasy football draft parties, as well as through its Fantasy Football Blogger League.

Ruth's ChrisRuth’s Chris Steak House is exclusively partnering with Australian wine company Penfolds Grange to feature its U.S. release this May. Ruth’s Chris will host Penfolds Grange wine dinners and will pair the award-winning wine with Ruth’s Chris signature dishes.

T.G.I. Friday’s introduced its new customer loyalty program to its locations, giving guests more choice, control and flexibility. "Give Me More Stripes" is an explanded Gold Point loyalty program with five reward levels; customers earn one point for each dollar spent. The new version offers more reward levels and gives customers the choice to redeem their points on small or large items.

In order to coordinate wholesale partners and compete more efficiently, Wirtz Beverage Illinois is launching its Alliance Division, which is a result of consolidation by Alliance supplier partners including Bacardi, Brown-Forman and Remy Cointreau. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Al Bruni will lead the Alliance Division.

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