Olive Garden’s Lifetime Pasta Pass: How an IT team scored unlimited carbs
Scoring a lifetime of pasta took a family-style tech approach for this IT team.
William Blanton, an information technology director from Williamsburg, V.A., sent a calendar invite to 15 of his colleagues two weeks before Olive Garden’s coveted pasta passes went on sale in August. They were told to block off an hour on their calendars for serious food business.
“We first started getting into the Pasta Pass four years ago. I thought it was kind of a joke when we first saw the advertisement — unlimited pasta seemed crazy,” Blanton, 28, told FOX Business. “Pasta is definitely my favorite food, hands down; there’s no close second.”
This year was an especially tall order: securing Olive Garden's new $500 Lifetime Pasta Pass, which went on sale in August offering just 50 people the chance to eat the restaurant's pasta, soup, salad and breadsticks for life. Guests entering had to be fast — last year's pasta passes sold out in less than one second.
Blanton and his team leveraged their tech-savvy skills to secure the limitless carb access. The strategy, he said, is strength in numbers, multiple devices, and a furious amount of mouse clicks as soon as the site went live.
“We typically do a couple devices. I had two laptops set up this year, and we also used our cell phones. Every single person on my team is logged on to multiple devices trying to get these pasta passes,” Blanton said, adding that he uses an Ethernet internet connection because it’s more stable than Wi-Fi. “We usually refresh a minute before it goes on sale just to make sure our computers are connected to the internet.”
Blanton and his team used the web browser extension LastPass, a password manager that stores encrypted passwords online, that way, all of his personal information like name, address and credit card number are stored so he can quickly enter to win a pass and click to check out. It worked -- he was the 46th person out of 50 people to secure a Lifetime Pasta Pass.
“It all wasn’t more than a couple seconds from the time I was on the checkout page to the time I completed it," Blanton explained.
His other colleagues won big too. Nine of them landed a Never Ending Pasta Pass, which offers customers nine weeks of unlimited pastas and sauces from Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl menu for $100 plus tax (they sold out in one second this year, the company said).
Blanton says people can apply the same strategy he did for other limited spot openings, like a gym class, restaurant reservations or any giveaway.
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Blanton, who also won the Unlimited Pass last year, says it saved him hundreds of dollars on lunch in the past. Last year, he ate at Olive Garden up to 40 times over the nine-week period. His go-to order is whole grain linguini with creamy garlic sauce.
“I probably save up to $300 a year, and that’s including the $100 that pays for it,” Blanton said.