Olive Garden apologizes for not allowing U.S. flag

Olive Garden is apologizing for refusing to allow an 80-year-old Kiwanis Club member to display the U.S. flag at an Alabama restaurant.

The City of Oxford website.

The City of Oxford website.

The Kiwanis Club in the east Alabama city of Oxford had planned a banquet, but Marti Warren, of Anniston, said she wasn’t allowed to bring the flag or a banner into the building.

Warren, in a Fox News interview, said, “This is not my country. This is not my country I grew up with.”

Warren, a former educator, told Fox she was outraged. “I was so angry. I felt like I had been slapped in the face.”

Oxford is located 90 miles west of Atlanta on I-20.

Management at the restaurant refused to answer questions concerning the incident, such as the size of the flag.

A media contact would not answer specific questions either, but did issue an apology via email.

“We are very sorry for any misunderstanding about this issue. We do not have a policy at Olive Garden concerning bringing the American flag into our restaurants. Some members of our team were misinformed about company policy by our corporate office. As a company we take responsibility for that and we regret it. We take pride in how we communicate to our restaurants and we are correcting this so it doesn’t happen again. Like all Americans we have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the American flag and everything it symbolizes, and we welcome anyone who wishes to bring the flag into our restaurants. In fact, we periodically provide American flag collar pins to our employees to wear while serving guests.”

The parent firm of Olive Garden,  Darden restaurants, which also operates the Red Lobster and Longhorn chains, is based in Orlando.

764 comments Add your comment

Pete

October 12th, 2011
6:49 pm

First Alabama turns against the USA in the civil war and now their Olive Gardens will not display the Flag of the United States of America! I will not give my tourist dollars to Alabama or visit another Olive Garden. Praise the Lord!

don staiger

October 12th, 2011
6:50 pm

what was the guy’s name that denied the American flag, Abdul Fucwad ?

Pete

October 12th, 2011
6:52 pm

I believe it was Robert E. Lee

mgt

October 12th, 2011
6:55 pm

I’ve eating at the olive garden for the last time.i fly my flag proudly
My son serves this country and I’m proud to be an american

Anthony Paul

October 12th, 2011
6:57 pm

Markws, I did not compare the US Flag to a Nazi Flag…..I simply changed the situation and asked if you would support a groups right to hang a different banner.

The Olive Garden policy is a blanket policy….if a single group is allowed to hang a banner, then all groups would have to be allowed or face discrimination.

Personally, I am a retired USAF officer who flew missions in Iraq and Afganistan; I served 25yrs defending our country and the rights we have.

At the same time, those rights also allow an individual or corporation to protect themselves via putting this type of blanket policy in place.

Would you be so upset if they had refused a Confederate Flag to be displayed during a Confederate Daughters Banquet??? Guess you are the type that feel discrimination should be selective…

Osama Bin Laden

October 12th, 2011
6:58 pm

Sometimes you have to wonder how repressed and backwards Alabama people really are. Our country is in shambles, unemployment at an all time high, debt will burden our children for generations, and some fool from Kiwanis is crying about a flag? What is her god giving right to wave a flag inside the facility? As an adult that went to Kiwanis as a child, that is not what they are about. Yeah I live in Pelham as well, I applaud OG for trying to be politically correct. Tell that old woman to sit down and shut up.

RSinF

October 12th, 2011
6:59 pm

What is wrong with you people. Have you forgot what that flag stands. OG. would not be around if it were not for that flag. Did we forget what it cost for that flag. Men and Women gave their lives so we could be free and can have the choice where we go even if it is OG.

spike0659

October 12th, 2011
7:00 pm

Another example of American patriotism offending someone not a true AMERICAN !!! If displaying our country’s flag offends you, you need to get out of this country!

Wanda Kelding

October 12th, 2011
7:00 pm

WE LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!! OUR AMERICAN FLAG SHOULD BE FLOWN PROUDLY THROUGHOUT OUR COUNTRY..WHETHER IT’S AT OLIVE GARDEN OR OUR HOMES!!!
DON’T LOSE YOUR PRIDE AND JOY OF LIVING HERE!! THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE RESPECT FOR OUR COUNTRY…FLYING OUR AMERICAN FLAG SHOWS OUR LOVE FOR THIS COUNTRY!
BEST OF ALL… DON’T FORGET OUR COUNTRY IS A CHRISTIAN NATION!! WE BELIEVE IN GOD/JESUS CHRIST!! THAT’S WHAT OUR FOREFATHERS SET FOR US!!
PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN AND BELIEVE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!

milt

October 12th, 2011
7:01 pm

i’d like to respond to that individual that said he or she didn’t believe anyone should be toting a flag into a restaurant. my friend, olive garden said yes to the kiwanis having their getogether there, which means money. therefore if they are going to take their money they should definitely allow any flag or banner to be brought in. i lived in shinbone valley alabama for 12 years and asked olive garden to consider locating there in oxford, and ate there many times. it is not olive gardens policy to disallow bringing in a flag or banner. someone messed up, badly. give them another chance to make it right

Kelly

October 12th, 2011
7:02 pm

It is not a “private” restaurant, idiot. It is a public place. In America.

Jerry

October 12th, 2011
7:02 pm

All you individuals that think the flag isn’t important enough to display no matter where – - go live in Myanmar!!!

John Corey

October 12th, 2011
7:07 pm

simply this is America stars and stripes all the way, got a problem with that then get out of America you do not belong here. I will display my American flag whenever I want. Let me guess all you jerks who think this is okay mprobable think flag burning is okay and I agree it’s okay as long as I can wrap you in it first. LOVE IT OR GET THE HELL OUT

Kelly

October 12th, 2011
7:07 pm

Political correctness is eroding away our society. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, we are willing to give up what we stand for. Very sad.

RSinF

October 12th, 2011
7:07 pm

For SBinF.
Why don’t you just move to another country and you don’t have to listen to this. You also will find out you can’t like you do. I bet you are ok with burning the flag as well. You just are a dumb #$$

Sandie

October 12th, 2011
7:10 pm

Most of your are idiots. They were having a Kiwanis Club meeting, of course there would be a flag. If Olive Garden agreed to them holding a meeting there, they should have allowed the flag. Pretty cut and dry.

Armando

October 12th, 2011
7:12 pm

Hey! How about if I bring in a Nazi flag? Every privately owned establishment has the right to refuse any flag on their property and the right to refuse service to anyone! Find another faux italian restraunt to hang your flag redneck!

Sandie

October 12th, 2011
7:13 pm

another idiot

billy mays

October 12th, 2011
7:14 pm

EASY with the diversions folks …study real politics …RON PAUL 2012………Honesty in ‘explanation of reality’ is HARD TO SWALLOW …. remember they have set mass hypnosis techniques deploying flashing TV ’spectrums’ / waves and diversionary algorithmicaly fabricated ENTERTAINMENT , SPORTS AND NEWS BLOCKS …. to make the fraud they are undertaking look HARMLESS ….. so its up to US THE PEOPLE to condense the TRUTH …to translate the genius of DOCTOR RON PAUL ….. DONT LET THEM FIX THE GODDAMN ELECTION YET AGAIN …DONT LET THEM SOCIALLY ENGINEER YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT POLITICS ————–LANDSLIDE DOCTOR PAUL CODE FRIKKEN RED A LANDSLIDE …PASS IT ON

john Senelenelin

October 12th, 2011
7:15 pm

Yeah, their a private restaurant, they should have the right to you know, not let blacks, or asians, or homosexuals in either if they fell like it right? Because as you say they are private!? dining establishments. Freedom is not just on your terms slipschlitz.

Osama Bin Laden

October 12th, 2011
7:17 pm

Nice Sandie, you have to wonder about people that call other people idiots. Your grammar is imbecile. “Most of your are idiots.” Please don’t call people idiots, when you are in fact, stupid.

MichelleP12

October 12th, 2011
7:18 pm

An apology via E-MAIL????

As far as this part of said e-mail: ‘ “Like all Americans we have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the American flag and everything it symbolizes, and we welcome anyone who wishes to bring the flag into our restaurants. In fact, we periodically provide American flag collar pins to our employees to wear while serving guests.” ‘ …………

How sweet that they “welcome” anyone who wishes to bring “the flag” into our restaurants and they “in fact, we periodically provide American flag collar pins to our employees to wear while serving…” WHAT IS THAT? It sounds as if they’re bragging about “in fact”.

I’m glad their P.R. people straightened it out, BUT, BUT, BUT, as someone who worked in graphic design/marketing for over 25 years, it was a rather pathetic excuse of a straightening out. BY SENDING AN E-MAIL????? Puh-lease!

LoveTheFlag!

October 12th, 2011
7:18 pm

You pricks that think it doesn’t matter are part of the reason this country has went to hell! Stand up for something other than your selfishness.

RSinF

October 12th, 2011
7:20 pm

Armando, did you fight for this flag or do you just try to bring it down. Many have and do not see things so bland and white. More red, white and blue.

graydog50

October 12th, 2011
7:22 pm

If its their right, then it should be their right to serve who they want, Serve white and not any other color. Its their right doesn’t exist in the United States anymore thanks to the liberals. Screw Olive Garden and the freaks who agree with it. Move to California.

I care

October 12th, 2011
7:23 pm

Love it or leave it if you don’t love america and are proud of our flag and what it stands get out

oldfart

October 12th, 2011
7:25 pm

“DON’T FORGET OUR COUNTRY IS A CHRISTIAN NATION!! WE BELIEVE IN GOD/JESUS CHRIST!! THAT’S WHAT OUR FOREFATHERS SET FOR US!!”

The first statement from the first amendment to the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”

angeldove

October 12th, 2011
7:26 pm

Have some respect for your country you jerkwads! The American Flag stands for our freedom! Stand up for our rights as Americans!

Tooz

October 12th, 2011
7:26 pm

Geez, they apologized. Sounds like a simple misunderstanding that some people want to use to make political hay. Maybe if some of you cranky ones who have never made a mistake and don’t accept apologies stay home the wait will be shorter for the rest of us.

oldfart

October 12th, 2011
7:34 pm

The article has been updated since the early posts. There initially was no apology, only that they were looking into the issue. Even the most brain dead spokesperson should have took the initiative and apologized knowing the fan was already on with excrement at the ready.

SirBearheart

October 12th, 2011
7:40 pm

Well, if OG wants it to “feel like Italy”, then by all means they should pack up and go. This is America! Hasn’t there been enough demolishing of our Constituion, Declaration of Independence and our rights as citizens in this country? I believe EVERY American should stand up and proudly wave the flag. We did it after 9/11… oh, but that was because it was “cool” at the time to be patriotic. Don’t forget, it was our society’s own complacency that allowed 9/11 to happen. And now instead of banding together and showing the world that we are one, UNITED people, we instead tell the world that we don’t even have loyalty to our flag or what it stands for. If I am to be criticized for “wrapping myself under the flag”, then so be it!! Those of you who don’t care for this sort of thing, the rest of us will be happy to buy you a one way ticket to Iraq. Oh, but then you would see thousands of our young men and women also “wrapped around the flag”. I wonder if you would have the guts to tell them what you say here.

william welsch

October 12th, 2011
7:44 pm

Who wants to eat at olive garden anyway,I can think of better places to spend my money,and eat a good meal.

commonsense53

October 12th, 2011
7:47 pm

American Civic groups proudly display the flag at all their events. Bad management by Darden Group.

Tom W

October 12th, 2011
7:48 pm

I can understand the position of the local Olive Garden’s stance as they had no direction from the corporate level and Olive Garden’s do not have private dining rooms. To be honest the Kiwanis should have booked a restaurant the had private dining rooms so they could have done anything they wanted. Many restaurants could have served there needs without interrupting the other diners at the Olive Garden.

I love the Olive Garden and dine there frequently and would not want to have my meal interrupted by a large group like the Kiwanis, flag or no flag, who can get quite rowdy. Please go to a reastaunt that has a private room for your celebration.

A Vietnam veteran!

Rick L

October 12th, 2011
7:48 pm

First let me say I’m an American and would fight for this country and would most likely be wearing an American flag if I did so. But understand our flag has been flown while Americans have committed the most horrific acts, largely to its indigenes inhabitants. I hope we have grown past this adolescent behavior. Remember it’s the people holding the flag that give it its meaning, not the other way around.
Regarding the Olive Garden flag thing. Probably a bad business decision made by an under paid collage kid managing more than he or she should. A good manager would look at the big picture and in this case would most certainly have let the Kiwanis Club bring their American flag.
One last though; didn’t Alabama a few generations ago along with a few other southern states fly a different flag? I’m just saying lets not make a bigger deal than it is, one manager’s poor decision.

Jim K

October 12th, 2011
7:49 pm

They made an error interpreting a company policy and did so on the side a caution to protect their job. Stupid? Yes… But good God let it go… apparently no one else has ever made a mistake?

steven

October 12th, 2011
7:53 pm

All of you talking about boycotting Olive Garden are the same morons who love to play both sides and think morons with their pants sagging should be fined. Its the businesses right and we do not have all the details.

Homie D Clown

October 12th, 2011
7:57 pm

The reason that the flag display was denied was because it offended the restaurant manager, Achmed Towelie….

Larsonmars

October 12th, 2011
8:00 pm

Hey good news! Olive Garden will now be a more inviting restaurant to eat at because it won’t be filled with cry baby right wingers that must hug our flag every ten minutes to feel patriotic.

Scott

October 12th, 2011
8:04 pm

It was a banquet idiot, but even so does that give you the right to question their rights about carrying a flag? Are you an american? Why don’t you go peddle your goods in Iran and see how far your attitude gets you, yes in the tough times the people are having to deal with it is a time to join together and support fellow Americans whether you agree or not. Anything less should be considered treason. And yes, everyone should boycott Olive Garden until the manager of the store is relived of his duties. He must of made a call that was not his to make. He did nothing more than Hank Jr. or the Dixie Chicks. Grow up and love it or leave it.

Prez Obozo

October 12th, 2011
8:15 pm

I hardly ever eat there anyway. The food is not authentic or great & over priced….

basil

October 12th, 2011
8:17 pm

I am so sick of these “more patriotic than thou” types. These are the same people who are quick to wave a flag & extol the virtues of a piece of cloth but really don’t live up to what it supposedly stands for. Like it or not, it’s just a flag. What’s more important, the cloth & colors or the principles behind it? The problem is that for some people it’s all about sybolism, not substance. Quit crying about a flag & start caring about people. “One nation under God( opps! can’t say that anymore. someone might get offended )”, “with liberty & justice for ALL”. Remember that? Get fired up about that, then I’ll be impressed. For the life of me I can’t understand why this is even news worthy. Didn’t Olive Garden apologize? Shouldn’t that be enough?

Get it through your thick skull- America doesn’t revolve around you & what you believe. You don’t get to impose your brand of patriotism on the rest of us & you don’t get to judge who is or isn’t patriotic. If a restaurant doesn’t want you to wave your flag, take your “banquet” somewhere else. Simple as that.

Jerry w.Harris

October 12th, 2011
8:21 pm

Millions of Americans have died for the freedoms the American Flag has stood for since this country was established, I, or my family will never eat at this establishment again. Dont bash the very symbol that allows us as Americans to have free enterprise in this Great Country.Shame on Olive Garden.

MLW

October 12th, 2011
8:22 pm

It is the right of every American to tote, wear, display our Nation’s Flag as they so desire. It is guaranteed by the First Amendment. For those of you offended by seeing the American flag…get the hell out. If you don’t care about first amendment rights and the American flag offends you then you are obviously in the wrong place. I for one am tired of everyone bending over backwards so that they don’t offend people from other countries. I tell you what, if I visit your country I promise not to be offended when you display your Nation’s flag.

Freddy

October 12th, 2011
8:22 pm

This probably was a case of some little “no-nothing clerk” at OG trying to show their authority. They should have asked the manager. Some of you people on here that wants to take up for a stupid decision like this against our flag & a community group — have no respect for our country & YOU HAVE NO BALLS — NONE

Joe

October 12th, 2011
8:26 pm

It’s one thing not allowing a flag to be flown outside. To allow one inside, that’s another issue. If they allowed this, they would have to cater to every group out there that wants to display a flag indoors. I go to these restaurants to enjoy a meal, not a flag processional. This lady is out of line, as is the compulsive need to whine about it in the media. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to eat there.

American Flag

October 12th, 2011
8:26 pm

Can’t we all just get along?

Also, if you are dumb enough to feed the trolls, please leave the country….you’re embarrassing me.

Barb

October 12th, 2011
8:27 pm

They have every right to say no to the American flag. But if they had not made a statement that it was a misunderstanding? then I also have the right not to eat there again. And, I wouldn’t.

PrincessPhlly

October 12th, 2011
8:30 pm

To ABC

If you don’t like seeing the American flag I suggest you leave this country and never come back.
If you are a US citizen then you are a traitor.

Derrick

October 12th, 2011
8:30 pm

Having worked in the restaraunt industry for many years i’ve found it’s pretty common for service organizations to display flags at a banquet / event (which is what the Kiwanis club had scheduled)…it’s very unusual to unheard of (hence the national media coverage) to deny them that opportunity…really sounds like an incompetent management decision…can’t believe that a local store would go crawling to corporate to check and see if the american flag was okay to display…bad management dooms stores…looks like Olive Garden is stepping up to the plate with a nice boiler plate statement taking responsiblity…they don’t have anything to be embarrassed about…what have service organizations, senior citizens, and patriots ever done for this country except to make Olive Garden employees uncomfortable?