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Olive Garden [merged threads]

Olive Garden [merged threads]

Old Feb 28, 06, 12:30 pm
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Olive Garden [merged threads]

I live in a semi-remote, semi-rural community. The county population is about 105,000. The largest town is no more than 25,000. But, an interstate runs through it, and there is a mall and 3 Walmarts and a fair number of chain and non-chain restaurants. There are quite a few motels. They aren't overly full except when the local track is hosting a semi-annual Nascar race.

Currently, the exit down from the mall is being developed. It will have a Best Buy, a Target, one or two more stores of equal size and prominence, and a bunch of smaller ones. The town has been courting Olive Garden as a tenant. We have plenty of competitors; Ruby Tuesday, Applebees, Logans, Red Lobster, O'Charleys, etc. In 4 years, I have seen no chain restaurant fold. The few good non-chains struggle for business. Several have closed in the last month, while you have to wait 2 hours on a Friday night for a table at Outback.

Olive Garden Corporate looks like it will pass unless they can get major concessions from the local government (free rent, subsidies, no property tax). A petition has been started by a local radio show to demonstrate just how much citizens want OG (I know there are many OG detractors on this board. Personally, I'm ok with the place and any further variety will please me).

I don't know if they can be swayed, even with petitions or concessions. But, I have an idea. AL is the fattest or 2nd fattest state in the union. I think OG is underestimating demand based on population. We're few, but the average citizen will not be satisfied with a single bowl of spaghetti. No, these bloated 'bamians will be ordering triple entrees with double dessert. And the bottomless salad will go untouched. They don't even need to stock the bowls.

I think we should get as many locals together for a photo shoot and send that to Olive Garden. They cannot fail to be impressed. I'm just worried that people won't see my suggestion in the light that's it's being made and will think that I'm just making fun of their obesity problem. And, I'm worried that I might get sat on.

Should I send a letter to the editor or keep my mouth shut?
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Last edited by BamaVol; Feb 28, 06 at 1:51 pm
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Old Feb 28, 06, 12:37 pm
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Olive Garden is insult to Italian cuisine. Do what you can to get rid of them.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 12:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Analise
Olive Garden is insult to Italian cuisine. Do what you can to get rid of them.
Have you been there? It's good.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 12:49 pm
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Nothing wrong with Olive Garden at all.

And yes I own shares of Darden.

Americans love to eat out and variety is some kind of spice.

Olive Garden is so well received that they can ask for and get all the concessions they are after.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by JS
Have you been there? It's good.
Their soup, salad and breadstick lunch can't be beat. ^

It's not like the OP lives in NYC; it's unlikely that his town will ever see (much less support) a decent real italian restaurant anyway.

There are entire states in the USA without a decent real italian restaurant - for them, Olive Garden is probably as good as it's gonna get.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 12:55 pm
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I think Red Lobster and Olive Garden are owned by the same corporation....
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Old Feb 28, 06, 1:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Analise
Olive Garden is insult to Italian cuisine. Do what you can to get rid of them.
Couldn't agree more! Just because OG is the only Italian restaurant in many places, doesn't make it good. Sorry, BamaVol, but if I were you, I'd count my blessings that OG doesn't want to open there. With any luck, you might get a better Italian restaurant, maybe even one that isn't part of a chain.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by tonypct
Couldn't agree more! Just because OG is the only Italian restaurant in many places, doesn't make it good. Sorry, BamaVol, but if I were you, I'd count my blessings that OG doesn't want to open there. With any luck, you might get a better Italian restaurant, maybe even one that isn't part of a chain.
We've had 3 in 4 years. None lasted more than a year. I ate at one a month after it opened. The waiter was a 16 year old with a toothpick in his mouth! It took tremendous self-control not to slap it out of his face. The food was utter ..... I'm thinking of several problems.

1. Without the training you get from a corporate chain, most independents have no idea how to run a restaurant.

2. Local citizens are interested in quantity, not quality. All you can eat would go over well, but the only way to make money doing that here is to serve slop. Charging for quantity and quality is not an option due to the (generally) low incomes.

3. There are no local citizens of Italian heritage. One of my doctors (a fellow damn-yankee) says he's met one other It-Am besides me in 14 years of practice. He and I talk about delis and pizza when I have an appointment. We'd both frequent a good Italian restaurant, but it would take more than us to keep it going.

As I said, I don't have a problem with OG food, in fact I love the soup/salad/breadsticks lunch. And I grew up in a 2nd generation It-Am home, eating the family recipes hand written (some in Italian) my whole life and have generally lived in and around major cities (Boston, San Francisco, Denver) where good Italian food could be found. So, regardless of what your opinion of OG is, people here want one.

I just want to know how much hate mail I should expect when I point out the perpetual hunger that exists here, and the resulting average 44 inch waistline. Really.

People here are so fat ...

Ed: How fat are they?

They're so fat, that there's one small store for short and thin people. All the other stores sizes start at XL.

Last edited by BamaVol; Mar 1, 06 at 6:38 am Reason: corrected poor choice of words - sorry to have offended - no offense intended
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Old Feb 28, 06, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by david4455
I think Red Lobster and Olive Garden are owned by the same corporation....
Why does that NOT surprise me?
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Old Feb 28, 06, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Analise
Olive Garden is insult to Italian cuisine. Do what you can to get rid of them.
Exactly, Sbarro's it ain't!
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Old Feb 28, 06, 3:18 pm
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Originally Posted by BamaVol
Currently, the exit down from the mall is being developed. It will have a Best Buy, a Target, one or two more stores of equal size and prominence, and a bunch of smaller ones. The town has been courting Olive Garden as a tenant. We have plenty of competitors; Ruby Tuesday, Applebees, Logans, Red Lobster, Ocharleys, etc. In 4 years, I have seen no chain restaurant fold. The few good non-chains struggle for business. Several have closed in the last month, while you have to wait 2 hours on a Friday night for a table at Outback.

?
You described I81 south of Wilkes-Barre Pa. They built this huge boxstore development and put one of every national chain restaurant in and around.

I used to frequent an independent beer-pub that in addition to brewing some really good beer, offered some pretty good meals. I remember an evening having a Cajun rib-eye, a fresh dinner salad and homemade garlic mash potatoes with a couple of good Stouts and the bill was less than $25 bucks. An equal meal at the Outback would have been closer to $35.

Unfortunately the place closed a few months after the mall was completed as they couldn't compete with Olive Garden and the rest.

I'm still searching for a good local restaurant in the area.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 4:12 pm
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try courting mac grill or maggiano's.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 4:27 pm
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Sounds like the perfect opportunity for a MR!

Around dinnertime, pick an airport (ATL or BHM) and catch a flight to a large city with lots of OG's! By the time you arrive, the waiting list should be reduced from 2 hours to 1 hour and you'll probably be famished!

OT - Check out the Community board - I just posted an ATL Do yesterday and would love to have you join us!
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Old Feb 28, 06, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by party_boy
try courting mac grill or maggiano's.
I dunno...the guys that franchise the Macaroni Grills in Southern California really doesn't know what he's doing. The food is REALLY subpar, especially compared to the Macaroni Grills in the Chicagoland area. BUT, the Olive Gardens in the Chicagoland area totally SUCK, but they are VERY good out here in Southern California. Go figure. So in Illinois, go Mac Grill. In So Cal, fo OG.

As for people that hate the Italian franchises...have you been to more than one location? Just like any chain with more than one location, you can't judge the entire chain by just one experience. Like the people who say they went to Morton's and had the "worst steak ever..." I've been to many, many Morton's and have had many, many amazing steaks, and maybe one or two "okay" steaks. If I based all my opinions on the one or two "okay" steaks, I might have not gone back.

Off-Topic: My favorite dish at OG is the Chicken Marsala with angel hair pasta. At a Chicago suburb, they didn't heat through the sauce enough, SO IT WAS LIKE DRINKING BAD WINE with my chicken! I had to instruct them to reheat the sauce so that the alcohol burns off and the manager says, "But we've been doing it the other way for years!" Oy! No, not suppposed to get drunk off of the Chicken Marasala!!!

As for Maggiano's...great food consistantly in all locations that I've visited. Probably the safest bet.
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Old Feb 28, 06, 5:20 pm
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Thumbs down

Originally Posted by david4455
I think Red Lobster and Olive Garden are owned by the same corporation....
I can't see giving these guys huge breaks to come into a community but then again I can't see living in Alabama either...

from

http://www.redlobster.com/company/fact_sheet.asp

(Red Lobster is a)
Subsidiary of:
Darden Restaurants, Inc. of Orlando, Florida, which, through its subsidiaries, also operates Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill and Seasons 52 restaurants.
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