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

oldfart

October 12th, 2011
1:03 pm

Enter your comments here

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
1:04 pm

Viva mexico? haha A country so “great” that someone would rather work in an onion field in south GA than stay in their homeland..

Viva Cortez and Small pox..

Edward

October 12th, 2011
1:04 pm

Teabaggers and Faux News junkies never let facts get in the way of self-righteous outrage.

Doug

October 12th, 2011
1:05 pm

Dumb business decision

DawgInaTruck

October 12th, 2011
1:05 pm

It appears as if it is time for a dose of reality for many. As someone above pointed out, the whole situation likely occured because of a lack of proper communication. I’m sure both parties will learn from this: In the future the Kiwanians will know to ask ahead of time and so will the restaurant.

SayWhat called this situation “scary”. Wrong-scary is the thought of my children in danger or being trapped in a burning automobile or home, etc. A dispute over a flag, even one I respect as much as ours, is not scary.

And for Jeff, here’s a freebie for ya: It’s Obama’s fault!! I shall now run screaming in fear…

Dean of Harvard Law School

October 12th, 2011
1:05 pm

Dear TrishaDishaWarEagle:

Whereas it is obvious that you are a brilliant mind and a distinguished Constitutional scholar, it is my distinct privilege to invite you to speak at the University as this year’s Henry Miller Lecturer.
It is indeed rare that a great mind such as yours comes along and we are thrilled with the prospect of learning more of your insights into property rights, freedom of speech, federalism, the Interstate Commerce Clause, and many other areas with which you most certainly must have an abundance of knowledge.

Let's laugh

October 12th, 2011
1:06 pm

How ignorant was that manager. Should be fired for violating company rules. That is, to make freaking money. Any moron knows this would damage business and sales.

urban redneck

October 12th, 2011
1:07 pm

wish i could find the 1st poster at 12:56. i would hand him his arss.

Grouchy

October 12th, 2011
1:09 pm

I haven’t eaten at Olive Garden in years. The food is awful.

Sasha

October 12th, 2011
1:11 pm

My prayer for all the freedom lovers is they do not
end up under Iran law. Stop and THINK folks please.

DawgInaTruck

October 12th, 2011
1:11 pm

Urban-Think reality again. He doesn’t exist-just a pot stirrer.

health freak

October 12th, 2011
1:12 pm

Another reason for the U.S. to invade Iran..

Worst. Flag. Ever.

October 12th, 2011
1:12 pm

Is it your restaurant? If it is, bring all the stupid ugly American flags you can buy from China in and hang them up everywhere. Use them as placemats, dishrags and toilet paper.
If it’s not your restaurant, shut up and eat your pasta and stop being such a whiny roody-poo Ameritard.

MARY

October 12th, 2011
1:14 pm

tHIS IS NOT A CROCK.. IT’S ABOUT AMERICANS BEING PROUD TO BE AMERICAN
WE SHOULD STAND UP FOR OUR COUNTRY AND BE PROUD YOU’RE AMERICAN.

IF YOUR NOT PROUD GET OUT…….

sircharles1941

October 12th, 2011
1:15 pm

The management at this particular Olive Garden should have approached this event with a reservation. The management should have known that all VFW carries their particular flag as well as the American flag because they show honor and respect. However, the flag should not exceed the normal flag we fly at our homes; or they should opted for a smaller one that would not distract or cause any reservation among anyone. Something could have been done to permit this to happen!

DawgInaTruck

October 12th, 2011
1:15 pm

Don’t fall for it. Never argue wth an idiot. They’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

Persian Owner of Olive Garden Franchise

October 12th, 2011
1:15 pm

I fly the old Iranian flag (the one flown by the Shah) in my Olive Garden on Hwy 92.
I would never let anyone bring an American flag in my restaurant.
Iran is #1 and the USA will go the way of the ancient Romans. Down down down.

DawgInaTruck

October 12th, 2011
1:18 pm

I repeat:

Don’t fall for it. Never argue wth an idiot. They’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

The Management

October 12th, 2011
1:19 pm

We do not accept reservations and we reserve the right to tell you whiny little veterans to take your murder-flag back to your rock and crawl under it.
Olive Garden does not need you losers.

Dave in Marietta

October 12th, 2011
1:20 pm

Once again this thread is chock full of idiotic comments. Especially those who call others “flag haters” just because they see the pragmatic side not allowing the flag inside the restaurant. I haven’t seen one person state that they hate the flag. But that’s how the tiny, jingoistic mind works.

Blue Eyed-Southern Girl

October 12th, 2011
1:22 pm

Did you people even read the story before you started spouting comments? It was clearly stated “it did not have a private dining area and the flag would have disrupted the experience of other customers” Now which part of that statement says A) the flag was enormous or B) they paid for a private dining area!! Sheesh people…FREE COUNTRY REMEMBER!! This gives OG the RIGHT to say no!!

oldfart

October 12th, 2011
1:22 pm

Did the Olive Garden in question take reservations from the Kiwanis with the understanding that it was for one of their meetings? If so, they should be obligated to allow all of the accouterments that accompany such a meeting. No idea about this town but I have been in a few that don’t have a restaurant with a private dining area available but the club should have also checked ahead of time to see what was allowed. I sat through a chamber of commerce meeting in a small north Georgia restaurant one time and found it entertaining.

I also don’t think a flag would have detracted from the ambiance of an Olive Garden. Yes they try to invoke Italy alright but with a Disneyesque flair. Faux stone done in fiberglass, plastic ivy, re-heated frozen breadsticks and canned marinara don’t exactly scream Italy unless you grew up on Chef Boyardee. For those of you saying a private business can exclude you for any reason they see fit please check your history to see how Lester Maddox established a political career. Don’t be so quick to jump in on either side until an article actually explaining both sides appears, knowing the AJC don’t hold your breath.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
1:23 pm

@ Dean of Harvard Law School

Whereas one of your graduates and former instructors, Barry Hussein Soetoro, has weighed in with his supposed constitutional insights on not one, but three distinct SCOTUS rulings in which I, not he, correctly called the outcome, I would be honored. My lecture will cover : District of Columbia v. Heller, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and Humberto Leal Garcia v. Texas.

As a bonus for your students who are not currently defecating on cars in NYC, I will discuss obama’s upcoming humiliating defeat in “States of Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Georgia, Alaska, and as of January 19, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, Maine, Iowa, and Wyoming. Also, the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals, Mary Brown and Kaj Ahlburg. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, et al.”

P.S. Upfront payment is required for speaking Fee..

somuchfordarden

October 12th, 2011
1:24 pm

Apologies if this has been brought up already…

These are the same guys (Darden) who proudly kissed up to Michelle Obama’s war on the food industry, saying they would reduce salt and fat from all their items in the next few years. Michelle’s love for food she preaches against seems to be a constant news topic these days – nice.

It’s clear which ‘team’ Darden is on -and that’s change you can believe in! LOL. Change what made them famous, and then refuse to allow a group of Americans to fly the American flag in America.

Dave in Marietta

October 12th, 2011
1:25 pm

Actually, I did see one person who stated that they didn’t like the looks of the flag. but not what it represented.

sherry dawkins

October 12th, 2011
1:27 pm

This is America. That’s a freedom. That’s what we have fought for. Freedom. I don’t like it either, but they do have a right not to want the flag there.

Are you Crazy?

October 12th, 2011
1:28 pm

This is another problem with our country. We have so many people from other countries and organizations that don’t care about this country or the freedom of speech and respect for the flag. Do you think your grandparents and parents would have allowed people people of other nations be flown in our country? We are not a nation because those few who have to have their way about the Bible, our Flag, and even our schools. Its no longer We are a Nation, it’s ME ME ME Nation.

Pedro's Armpit

October 12th, 2011
1:34 pm

Hey Pedro and Tammy, it’s time for that annual eye exam. The article CLEARLY reads:

“The company said it did not have a private dining area…”

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
1:35 pm

but but but…we have to worry about immigrants FEELINGS and self esteem…(sarcasm is harder in print)

I’ll skip my lecture point on how coddling human beings fragile emotions retards evolution and natural selection, but rest assured, it does..

markie mark

October 12th, 2011
1:36 pm

Trisha, dont forget in your lecture the Justice Dept and their “Fast and Furious” agenda of law enforcement. Subpoena’s to soon be delivered to the Honorable Eric Holder……

proudamericanannie

October 12th, 2011
1:37 pm

Look at it this way, how many people go to these restaraunts to celebrate birthdays, anniversarys, graduations, etc…………with balloons, banners, disruptive and loud crying children, the drunken relative who feels their table should come before any other……blah blah blah; my point here is do they stop these people from bringing in their disruptive, unwanted party favors into the restaraunt??? So let me get this straight, they can celebrate their birthday and such yet the Kiwanis can’t celebrate their country and freedom???? How can a flag that will not be blowing around be more disruptive than balloons which by the way grab the attention of ALL the other children in the restaraunt? Get a grip people. Have we forgotten what is important? BAD judgement call on the Olive Garden employee who basically implied our flag is of unimportance.

OMG

October 12th, 2011
1:37 pm

@ Let’s laugh. With all the respect to any paying customer, OG by not doing business with that group is not losing, but gaining. Kiwanis is known, and not liked because of their low funds, no spending (cheap menu choices) and holding restaurant space for a long time. Thus, by admitting regular customers who eat, and do not camp out they (OG) stay in business. Almost any facility has a private room to rent out, and thay have to sell, in order to make money. It’s either buy from me, or rent from me. It’s the business, nothing personal, or any discrimination of any kind.

Baboo Ganishgonosh

October 12th, 2011
1:39 pm

I will never go there again! Not because of the flag thing. BECAUSE THEY SERVE NO GOAT!

ironhorzmn

October 12th, 2011
1:40 pm

I LIKE Olive Garden. I hope they correct this misunderstanding very publicly or I won’t be going there again.

Brian

October 12th, 2011
1:41 pm

I care a lot, too, whocares. You are an A$$, imho. I will never eat at any of those three locations again. Morons.

Russ

October 12th, 2011
1:41 pm

No problem, if I were the Kiwanis group I’d just find some place else to have my meetings from now on. What worries me the most though is the thought that seeing an American flag might “disrupt the experience of other customers”.

markie mark

October 12th, 2011
1:42 pm

And as a bonus pop quiz, you can lecture on the upcoming suit of Gibson Guitar vs. The US Dept of Agriculture vis a vis the Lacey Act. Seems that India has objected to Indian wood being used in guitars here, and not being “finished” in India (Google Lacey Act, for those of you who think these things are not important…..kinda like allowing service organizations like Kiwanis from displaying the flag….)

Sorry if this is too far off topic…..

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
1:46 pm

Not far off topic at all..another example of the ever increasing intrusive reach of a federal government that no longer has even the slightest toe grasp on original constitutional intent…

Relationship Expect

October 12th, 2011
1:50 pm

I can visualize Occupy Oxford forming up right now. How many teeth will they have among them? Will they have a tooth between them?

Seriously?

October 12th, 2011
1:51 pm

All of this hype and hysteria over this??? Is Obama going to have to call another Beer Summit at the White House?

I’d much rather see people get in a huff over things like, I dunno, umemployment, high gas prices, high food prices, the War, the increased bank fees, federal debt, bridges to nowhere, personal debt, the housing downturn, missing children, high crime rates, Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen, just to name a few.

Get a life and get a flag!

I've eaten my last meal at Olive Garden!!!!!

October 12th, 2011
1:51 pm

Enter your comments here

Misty Fyed

October 12th, 2011
1:52 pm

I’m glad Olive Garden has the constitutionally guaranteed right not to allow the display of the American flag. I’m also glad I have the right not to give them one dime of my money until they change the policy.

At least the democrats will have a place to eat that is free of conservatives.

AmericaFYeah

October 12th, 2011
1:52 pm

1. Olive Garden does not look like Italy. 2. Italy wouldn’t look like Italy were it not for the “Ignorant old white people,” and their (black, brown, yellow, red, etc.) brothers. 3. Olive Garden has a right to ban flags. 4. Olive Garden made a really bad business decision to drive away 20-30 immediate customers and others who will now boycott for not allowing a flag for a couple of hour. 5. Hating our flag and country doesn’t make you inherently smarter. 6. You don’t have to like our flag or our country, but if you don’t, you can get bent. 7. Delta is ready when you are, and I mean that sincerely. It’s a free country. Leave if it makes you this unhappy.

gus darden

October 12th, 2011
1:52 pm

our country, our flag. grow your garden in another country olive ! $$$$$$$$$$$$ is all it’s about. THE NON-UNITED STATES OF CAPITALISM.

Good Grief

October 12th, 2011
1:53 pm

Hey @Worst.Flag.Ever, where are your restaurants in Gwinnett County so we can check them out . . . ??? Curious minds want to know . . .

l morris

October 12th, 2011
1:54 pm

Until they offer an apology to the lady, I’ve eaten my last meal at any Olive Garden.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
1:54 pm

$10 says Buford Hwy

Good Grief

October 12th, 2011
1:57 pm

Safe bet . . .

pb

October 12th, 2011
1:57 pm

Much ado about something not that important. Maybe Olive Garden didn’t want their other customers to be bothered with the huge spectacle and disruption. Nothing against the American flag, but some people try to wrap themselves in it, to be patriotic, and anyone who disagrees with them is not a “true American.” Kind of sad.

fupa

October 12th, 2011
1:58 pm

I love my country but do I have to have the flag/religion thrown in my face wherever I go?