For parents of young children, finding and paying for a babysitter often tips the scale in favor of not going out.

Olive Garden is looking to offset the issue with a new promotion. Based on its two-for-$25 dinner special, a popular limited-time offer run periodically, Olive Garden is partnering with My Gym, a national franchise of children's fitness centers, to offer a Parents Night Out event. On Feb. 7, children between the ages of 2-12 can be dropped off at one of 145 participating My Gym locations, while parents enjoy dinner at their local Olive Garden restaurant.

The best part for cost-conscious parents—Olive Garden is picking up the tab for the kids at the My Gym center.

"With busy family schedules and everyone always on the go, it's challenging for parents to find time for a date night out," says Jay Spenchian, executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden. "We're excited to partner with My Gym to offer this exclusive Parents' Night Out event, making it easier for couples to enjoy time together over a great meal at Olive Garden, while their kids are having a blast at My Gym."

All of the participating My Gym centers are located near a Olive Garden restaurant. “The majority are within a 6-7 mile radius,” says Tara Gray, communications manager for Darden. “We actually mapped out the locations to make sure they are close by.”

The nationwide event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. in most My Gym centers, but times can vary slightly by location. Space is limited to approximately 30 kids per participating My Gym location, with reservations granted on a first-come, first-served basis. The reservation requires a deposit, which is refunded by My Gym at the end of the evening after customers show their Olive Garden receipt.

The feedback has been very positive so far, says Gray. “We are very excited about this promotion, and depending on the outcome will consider doing something similar in the future.”

Olive Garden is inviting parents to share their date-night photos and stories using #OGParentsNightOut on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

By Joann Whitcher

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, Olive Garden