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

peterwoohoo

October 12th, 2011
8:38 pm

My business displays the US Flag in one of my windows for thirty years….Replaced with new one on 9/11/01…….Don’t really care what people think, but never had anyone complain either!!

Mark

October 12th, 2011
8:38 pm

Yes it is Olive Gardens right not to allow the flag but ya know what? I have the right not to go there anymore.

Hank Jr.

October 12th, 2011
8:39 pm

Management at the OG made a mistake and this will not be the last. I get offended when I go out to eat at a upscale resturant and have to listen to crying babies or unruly childern at the next table. The flag issue was a local call by management.However,I still can not understand how they can have a banquet in an open floor plan such as OG has. Got to go,need to write a song about the OG and the flag.

allan hunt

October 12th, 2011
8:40 pm

Olive Garden definitely has the right to not let the American flag to be displayed on their premises.Even for a special event.We as American citizens and lovers of our country and our countries flag also have the right not to patroniize Red Lobster.Simple as that.

Michelle

October 12th, 2011
8:45 pm

First off I want to say that I am a born and raised American and I love my country and our flag just as much as anyone else but I WILL NOT STOP EATING AT A RESTAURANT SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY REFUSED TO LET SOMEONE BRING A FLAG IN FOR A MEETING.
That is stupid and just shows how easy it is for those people who have NOTHING better to do with their time but sit and read internet articles to find something to B**** about.
If it were a private event where they had a room all to themselves I can understand them wanting a flag for their club displayed but if they were just sitting in the general public the people who run Olive Garden had every right to say no.
Yes the Kiwanis Club is an awesome organization but if you are gonna plan a meeting in a public place you have to abide by the rules of the facility you are in.
Olive Garden was not doing anything wrong and it DOES NOT make the people who run the place or the ones work there any less American than you or me.
My husband was in the Navy as well as his step-father but I dont fly and American Flag on my house. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate our military or our country. Its a personal choice that we made for ourselves.
Any one who refuses to eat at a restaurant just because they wouldn’t let a club( that you are more than likely not a member of) hang our flag is crazy. Are you gonna boycott all the Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, etc. restaurants a swell because I can guarantee you they dont have an American flag flying in their establishment even if they were born here. It takes away from the atmosphere. Olive Garden is an Italian based restaurant and they had every right to say no. GET OVER IT!!!!

Sherry

October 12th, 2011
8:45 pm

Olive Garden just went to the bottom of my list of choices for going out to eat. People forget that in other countries their flag is displayed everywhere with honor. We as a country are so busy trying to make everyone who comes here happy, we are losing our own identity. History proves over and over again how countries who do not hold their identities crumble and are taken over. I say, “Display the flag and be proud of who we are and what we stand for.”

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

October 12th, 2011
8:47 pm

Just fly your freakin’ flag at home lady. Sheesh!

Karen

October 12th, 2011
8:48 pm

For those whom the american flag means nothing anymore,I remind you that a lot of service men and wemen have died for that flag and what it represents. Too many have become so politically correct and so many who are not american want to live here enjoy the rights and previleges that america brings,But would not lift a finger to help her as we see here.”As long as it doesn’t interfere with ME” I have enjoyed eating at OG.I have bought gift cards for friends who enjoy them also.But until I am satisfyed there was a mistake and the person who made that mistake is fired.That it will Never happen again,I will not go there and will see that no family or friends do either.

gringo

October 12th, 2011
8:50 pm

take your old arse to the bingo parlor and shove your fake american jingoism up your crusty butt….

American

October 12th, 2011
8:53 pm

I agree with you people that it is a private dinning establishment and they should be able to ban what they want to. Like how about white people, or black people, or disabled people, or maybe gay people? How about red haired people because that would disrupt the theme beacause most Italian people are dark haired. Yeah they were within their right because that is what soldiers die for everyday to defend those rights.

Robert

October 12th, 2011
8:54 pm

Enter your comments here

Mildred Martin

October 12th, 2011
8:55 pm

The American Flag is to be respected at any event and any restaurant or business. I am in several civic organizations and an American Flag is always present. Therefore, when we go to a restaurant or public place for our meetings, the Flag is still always present whether they have it on display or
whether we carry it in, I can’t believe that anyone would reject the American Flag being brought into a restaurant. I’m shocked as these are some of my favorites but I will think twice before going to them again.

saveamerica

October 12th, 2011
8:56 pm

We Americans need to make sure we stand for what we believe in and stop allowing things like this to continue. We need to influence our social circles and families to make our country something other than a place for dumb asses who say hey way to go not letting the American flag in your establishment. If you don’t like our country…Get the hell out!

gringo

October 12th, 2011
8:57 pm

I’d say good riddance, old people and blacks are the worst tippers in the industry. note to black folk, if you can’t afford to tip-don’t eat out.

cee

October 12th, 2011
8:59 pm

Wow … get a grip. Who does that anyway?

Al

October 12th, 2011
9:01 pm

For the ones who don’t care about this are probably on welfare,SSI or assistance from our fine country. Show some respect for our country and the ones who provide the freedom.

Mommy Diva

October 12th, 2011
9:01 pm

They won’t let some club who will be dropping a great deal of money in their establishment bring in a flag because it would disrupt other diners, but these idiots don’t have a problem letting people bring in screaming kids to disrupt other diners. That is just sick. It is scary how much America has changed in the last decade. Can’t wait until 2012 so we can take our country back, and make it better than ever.

danny mcfadden

October 12th, 2011
9:02 pm

not that i go to olive garden a lot, but this story gives me even more reason not to go there. misinformation can really kill your business. advice to Miss Warren, pick a locally owned resteraunt and more likely than not you won’t have this problem.

wamam

October 12th, 2011
9:02 pm

So the stupidity of one person will cause all stupid people to boycott the whole chain. Get over yourselves already. Do you know what misunderstanding means?

allan hunt

October 12th, 2011
9:04 pm

Unfortunately it was a Muslim ,America hating restaurant manager.

American

October 12th, 2011
9:06 pm

How about all you unAmerican people take your freedom to not display and respect the flag to another country where you have that freedom. Jerks.

MB

October 12th, 2011
9:08 pm

Just another example of someone being told “no” and whining about it. As it turns out, it was a miscommunication, which happens. As a former educator, I would love to know how Ms. Warren handled students who complained after being told they could not do something. Since an apology was issued it’s time to move along folks, nothing to see here.

zona

October 12th, 2011
9:11 pm

Who said it was a giant or enormous flag!! I didn’t see size mentioned! If the good ole flag of the USA bothers so many of you, then get out of this country because those of us that respect the flag don’t need your kind!!

gringo

October 12th, 2011
9:13 pm

They should go over the top with the faux patriotism. Let your imagination go wild: flag decorated maxi-pads for the ladies, flag condoms for the gents. Red,white, and blue toilet paper-force everyone to say the pledge of allegiance before launching into their salad bowl. God bless America, land of the free only if you wear your patriotic pledge pin. blech!

JerryB

October 12th, 2011
9:13 pm

Based on the comments here, I fear for the future of this country. Though I’m sure those saying “who cares”, making up the size of the flag, or why it was even there, would be up in arms if their local mosque had a luncheon and hung the Islamic flag. Libtards, go away forever.

Shelly

October 12th, 2011
9:16 pm

you cant have patriotism both ways.. either you respect all the freedoms the flag stands for and that includes the right not to fly it.. or you dont. I love the patriots who believe exercising the very freedoms that America is based on is UnAmerican

Richard Peterson

October 12th, 2011
9:20 pm

No big deal, and yes, I am a Vietnam Veteran. Flag wavers need to review the proper protocol for displaying the American flag. Giant flags on the baseball diamonds or football fields are a major source of protocol violations. The flag is never to be displayed horizontally. Period. And there is never a legitimate reason for displaying more than one American flag at a time. Politicians need to follow this when on stage. One flag only.

James

October 12th, 2011
9:21 pm

I care, jerkwad. I’ll never dine at one of those places again.

Maybe you need to be concerned about more important issues – you and the 80 year old. No one needs to carry a flag with them to display in someones business. There are no local food businesses in this area that display the American Flag. Some businesses do display the flag – their choice and that is good. And – you have to be really arrogant to think you should bring any kind of flag into a banquet.

gringo

October 12th, 2011
9:24 pm

All you dumb, fat right-wing morons keep stuffing your faces with freedom fries and listening to bocephus….

LoveofCountry

October 12th, 2011
9:28 pm

If you are a American citizen by birth or you have earned that right you should know how to respect the flag. Our Flag shoould be welcomed in any place as long it is treated with respect it deserves.
Millions of Americans have died carrying our flag into war. It doesn’t matter if you disagree about wars these Americans died for you to live in freedom. God bless our Military. Olive Garden has basically apologized about this incident so we should move on from this. As SBinF said quit wrapping yourself in a flag, Well the USA Flag is not and no way on the level of the Rainbow flag or Rebel flag or any other movement flag it is far more important and all Americans should unite behind it not argue over it.

gringo

October 12th, 2011
9:32 pm

They didn’t die for the flag, they died for the lies by George Bush. No WMD’s….

James

October 12th, 2011
9:32 pm

Honor the American Flag? I do that by working seven days a week and paying taxes. Wonder how many “flag wavers” do that? And – if you are so set on defending the American Flag – take your sorry a s s and join the military – or – are you too cowardly for that?

katie

October 12th, 2011
9:33 pm

Get real folks. Olive Garden is a restaurant and not a political get together place. If they let the American flag carried around like a bloody hunting trophy then they should allow other flags and symbols displayed as well. I totally agree with their decision but I am sure it still will be a corporate apology and a fat and free dinner for all the Kiwanis members that felt hurt by the action. Get a life and take the flag back to the club building. Don’t drag it around and see how and who can be provoked by it or who would say something that can be reported to Fox News immediately. Good for Olive Garden to do this. I have never seen any flag dragged around in any restaurant before and I think that’s just right. You go to a restaurant to have a good time and eat something yummy and you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of some politically driven show off….. Yes, this is America but displaying our flag should have some etiquette. It is just a bunch of old folks making this much bigger than it ever should have been at the first place. Next time make a plan and schedule this ahead of time and make sure the place is OK with the whole script, including dragging the flag around and make everybody a kind a little ackward around. When I go to OG I want to relax, eat some good Italian food and not surrounded with some overreacting Americans dragging the flag in front of me. If I crave that I go to a local political event. Everything has its place and time. OG and a big American flag displayed inside the restaurant are not matching up well. I just feel bad for OG. Hopefully it will not be a big old movement from this against OG.

gringo

October 12th, 2011
9:34 pm

the military is a jobs program for dumb,white hillbillies.

Rage

October 12th, 2011
9:35 pm

Anybody on this comment section who disgraces the American Flag does not respect nor appreciate the fact we are the land of the free and if you do not believe it I ask that you move to another country and speak and act freely, good luck. Over 3 million people have died for the American Flag and what it stands for. So before you say anything about bringing an American Flag to a private establishment and it is the right of the owner to refuse entry, remember the only reason he can refuse is because of that American Flag. Be thankful, not hateful.

LoveofCountry

October 12th, 2011
9:37 pm

Enter your comments here

Lois D.

October 12th, 2011
9:39 pm

I care! What do you think we are fighting for? How lame can you get? We are a retirement center and hold Government meetings for lunch etc. Our American Flag of the United States of America should be displayed every where! And so should the 10 commandments, Maybe this country would become like the country it used to be! If you have no respect for our Nation, Our God, and Our right to pray and show your support to the US Of America I say take a hike and go somewhere that doesn’t have the freedoms that we have fought and died for!

jobe410

October 12th, 2011
9:43 pm

People are funny. Our flag is something special. It stands for the thousands of men and women who died for it; the families of little kids who don’t know their moms, dads or grandparents because they believed it is something special. Shouldn’t that matter? That flag stands for freedom, including the freedom to post our bickering. Maybe people should try voicing their concerns in China, Iran, or North Korea for example. It’s my understanding they are totally open to people displaying their viewpoints. God bless the United States of America… and our flag.

gringo

October 12th, 2011
9:43 pm

I’ll wipe my butt with the 10 commandments and leave it in the offering trey to support your reverends hypocritical habits…

Randy

October 12th, 2011
9:47 pm

If they do not wantan American flag that is fine ! NOBODY who is a legal citizen of the USA should NOT eat there again . They do not like our flag they do not want our money either . HOPE THEY GO BROKE !!

Marvin Mangrum

October 12th, 2011
9:48 pm

Im glad I dont eat at Olive Garden that way I wont have to eat next to a nut that thinks allowing the American Flag to be used during a club meeting is wrong. Then again with folks like you we will be muslim shortly. What a bunch of fruitcakes. An American Flag would destroy the beautiful atmosphere?

Jym Allyn

October 12th, 2011
9:49 pm

Does this mean that Olive Garden gets to eat crow as well as sticky pasta?

Rage

October 12th, 2011
9:49 pm

gringo

October 12th, 2011
9:34 pm

“the military is a jobs program for dumb,white hillbillies” who protect your freedom to speak like an idiot!!

Slim

October 12th, 2011
9:52 pm

If you want to live in a country where God (Allah) and the flag are shoved down your throat move to Iran. In the USA your free to believe or not to believe in anything and everything. It’s what makes us unique and great. Don’t tread on me!

Marvin Mangrum

October 12th, 2011
9:53 pm

You know, you get a smell, it is past a spray it is a stench that is just past too much. Gringo, do you need some soap?

spitter

October 12th, 2011
9:54 pm

Hey… Kiwanis was holding a “banquet”, a couple folks weren’t sitting at a table or a booth…

Lou

October 12th, 2011
9:56 pm

The flag in your pasta masses are the same people who burned witches at salem and wore hoods and burned black churches in the South.

silk82

October 12th, 2011
9:57 pm

The Kiwanis Club was going to hold a banquet at the Olive Garden in which I’m sure the restaurant was aware of but then decided against it by not allowing an American Flag to be displayed at the tables where the members were seated? If they all would have walked wearing clothes that displayed the American flag would they be told to leave being that the decor was in Italin and that would confuse the other customers. I’ve eaten in an Olive Garden from time to time and I would have liked to see an American flag instead of seeing the drunks and hearing them across the room but yet Olive Garden has no policy on removing unruly customers that ruin dinners for the other customers that have family and children. So far, I have not been back to an Olive Garden since I been in that position and the manager told me that there was nothing he could do. My question is what nationality is the manager that refused this American Flag to be displayed, was this person even born in the United States? If not, that could tell you a lot and that would be the reason the flag was not allowed to be displayed.

DaisyDo

October 12th, 2011
9:58 pm

Don’t tell me this is an incident,where the Olive Garden just might be right..Once again,someone will cause this restaurant to close,by being “politically correct”…How sad…

gringo

October 12th, 2011
9:59 pm

marvin,

Your so dumb, if I spotted you a “c” and a “t”-you still couldn’t spell cat!