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

Dale Frey

October 12th, 2011
2:01 pm

The funny part is that Alabama people think that Olive Garden is Italian food. Or should I say I talin food.

Sick

October 12th, 2011
2:02 pm

This makes me sick! What has happened to this country? If the American flag offends you, then leave!

Nancy

October 12th, 2011
2:03 pm

I think Olive Garden made the right decision this time. When does it all stop?? I am a very patriotic person, but why would anyone think it appropriate to bring a big flag into the restaurant for a meeting? Maybe they should have asked about it BEFORE the meeting. There is a place and time for everything, even the American Flag.

willydoit?

October 12th, 2011
2:04 pm

The Olive Garden has the right to say “no” to bringing anything into their dining area.
However, the Kiwanis Club has the right to plan their next banquet at Shoney’s.

Ossie

October 12th, 2011
2:06 pm

So whats the big deal? The biggest news to me is that this article even made the news.

Joe Pitts....American

October 12th, 2011
2:10 pm

It is pretty clear to me which people in this room do not own an American flag that was draped over Mother, or Father, or Sister or, Brothers coffin.There are people in this world that honestly make me sick to my stomach. When the whole world is going to crap, I would have bet on Americans to remember what beliefs founded this country and at what costs that came. Religion, Speech, Right to bear arms, and the right to bring a flag into a business OR the right to keep the flag out. BUT THIS IS AMERICA !!!!!! Allow the flag in because you are proud of where you are. Because we ARE the Land of the FREE !!!!! Wake up America… Pitts Off

Pete

October 12th, 2011
2:10 pm

This is why we need a COMPLETE clean sweep of our socialist – communist federal administration along with a cleansing of the Supreme Court. It will take 10-15 years but if successful a decent, conservative, logical, God fearing government can guide our great country before it slides completely into the abyss.
The ego of man has no limits, nor does his misguided, selfish agendas.

STILL PATRIOTIC

October 12th, 2011
2:11 pm

There is a huge DIFFERENCE in a private establishment not wanting an American Flag in their establishment & not wanting to serve a HUMAN BEING because he/she is of another race/culture/color. Don’t even compare the two, they are two different worlds, worlds apart. Please THINK before you SPEAK, it makes you sound STUPID!

Ummmm?

October 12th, 2011
2:12 pm

I wonder if this restaurant would have turned away the University of Alabama cheerleaders if they had wanted to have a banquet and display a Univerity flag (assuming the manager wasn’t an Auburn fan, a homosexual male, or a plain Jane)?

STILL PATRIOTIC

October 12th, 2011
2:13 pm

The Olive Garden has that RIGHT to refuse to have the American Flag or ANY flag for that matter in their establishment. People, get over it & move on. We have so much more going on in America to deal with.

Ang

October 12th, 2011
2:13 pm

I will never dine at any of Darden restaurants again! What a shame!

lady mondegreen

October 12th, 2011
2:13 pm

so, some jingo got upset when someone else didn’t share his rabid, biased form of ‘patriotism’ – so what? allow this joker’s flag in & the next thing you know, he’s going to have everyone reciting the ‘pledge of allegiance’ before they sit down and praying to HIS god and only his god
love it or leave it/conform or die/be like me or be trash/you are free to be like me in a free country

scanner

October 12th, 2011
2:13 pm

wow there are lot more important things to boycott and this is not one of them!

John

October 12th, 2011
2:14 pm

This is the United States of America. An American flag is appropriate in any setting. American flags are draped over the coffins of U.S. Servicemen and women at funerals…they are flown in front of many buildings, public or private. Some flags are probably not appropriate. It’s interesting how many American flags I saw proudly displayed on vehicles after 9-11…now I only see college flags on cars during a football weekend.

Rick Swanson

October 12th, 2011
2:14 pm

Guess I will never eat at an Olive Garden again. Make that a Red Lobster also. It is America and was a patriotic group! If the flag offended you move or just don’t look at . They have to so politically correct with other groups the US Flag an issue? Pretty sad. Their generation lost quite a few members defending our freedom!

John Wayne wannabe

October 12th, 2011
2:15 pm

Maybe the Darden group should explore a private dinning area it could help them with their business plan. Then a display of the flag or whatever would be out of the common view. But really I’ve been there when some bothersome big groups ie whinning kids, drunk folks with too much vino or just too darn loud folks sit down there and ruin my meal. On the other hand the “Microwave Garden” isn’t a 4-star eatery. I like the place most of the time but it is just one step up from the drive-thru window places. So everyone make a choice to go or not to go. It is still mostly a free country !

I hate Olive Garden

October 12th, 2011
2:16 pm

If they were going to be allowed to have a banquet in the restaurant, they should allowed to bring in whatever they want. It isn’t like some guy wanted to come in and put up a flag, but the American flag should be allowed anywhere!!!

W Blicker

October 12th, 2011
2:16 pm

Olive Garden has seen the last of my money.
When a business in America is afraid of letting the flag be displayed things have gone too far.
The sight of the American flag in America is OK.
Because or if you’re offended about it or by it doesn’t mean you’re right.
Enough is enough.
You and Who Cares can go flush yourselves.

RGB

October 12th, 2011
2:17 pm

The “patriotic left” in abundance in an all-you-can-eat blog.

Wanda Brewster

October 12th, 2011
2:18 pm

Will not eat at Olive Garden again Seems like everyone else has the freedom but Americans.yeah that is a little scary.

FB

October 12th, 2011
2:18 pm

We’re not talking about some banner . . or pants falling down below one’s crack. We’re talking about the American flag . . . a symbol of this country which a “true” American would understand. It is time for the respect of the flag to be brought to the forefront . . . there are (and have been) many who have given their lives for what this flag stands for . . . if you don’t get that then maybe you aren’t a true American. Yes there is a time and place for some things . . but that does not include this country’s flag!

SillyDogs

October 12th, 2011
2:19 pm

I’m a doctor and the next time I deliver a baby, I’ll have tattoo artist tattoo the baby with the US Flag on his/her forehead….and if the parents protest I’ll call them unpatriotic and un-American. Give me a break people…..Private property rights are just as American as the Stars and Stripes themselves.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
2:20 pm

@still patriotic

There is no difference..you either have control of your own establishment or you do not. .once you cede any, you lose all. This is now being seen in CA with the ban on Foie Gras..a legal substance, yet denied arbitrarily by the state because other people felt offended. The day i care what another human being thinks or wants, in deference of my own wishes, is the day after I die…

and assuming the manager is an AU grad might be a safe one..the parking valet is the Bama grad..

PETER

October 12th, 2011
2:20 pm

THEY WANTED KIWANIS MEETING SO 40-50-100 PEOPLE WOULD COME SPEND THERE
MONEY
ALL KIWANIS MEETING HAVE A FLAG AND START WITH THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGANCE
LET’S ALL BOYCOTT OLIVE GARDEN–
KEEP YOU LITTLE FLAG PINS !

Lester Mattox

October 12th, 2011
2:22 pm

So yall er sayin a private bid’ness should have the right to say what they will and will not allow in their PRIVATE PROPERTY place of bid’ness? Whoda thunk.

FinanceBuzz

October 12th, 2011
2:22 pm

Let me preface this by saying I am not some left-wing, “hate America first,” hate the flag person. I am very conservative and that type of perspective gets me quite steamed. That being said, my initial reaction at the headline was irritation, but when I read the story, I don’t see how OG acted unreasonably. This was not some political protest against the flag, a move that would have incensed me had that been the case. Rather, this was about the logistics of displaying a flag or any other banner (note that no other banner was allowed either) in the main dining room as opposed to a a private dining area. First, off if having a meeting in the restaurant main dining room involves more than merely sitting around the table talking and eating, I would wonder if the restaurant was the appropriate place for meeting. Then, if you throw in setting up banners and such, you well may take away from the peaceful dining experience with other customers. There is something called being considerate of others and, no matter how civic-minded and no matter how patriotic you are, going into a dining room and undertaking actions that disturb others is not very considerate.

SillyDogs

October 12th, 2011
2:22 pm

Fox News reported that the Manager at this particular location was of Iranian descent on his father’s side. This disrespect will not be tolerated – President Obama is reviewing all military options against Iran.

FB

October 12th, 2011
2:23 pm

Oxford Native . . . businesses aren’t allowed to “control” their environments . . if that were the case they could control who they allowed in and they wouldn’t have to adhere to health inspections . . because, as you say “a business being able to control their environment . . . is part of their product.” The flag was being brought as part of the organization’s gathering and was a temporary fixture . .

Keith Stone

October 12th, 2011
2:23 pm

whocares, where does it say anything about it being an ENORMOUS flag? Maybe you think the flags people wave at parades are big so a standard size one must be ENORMOUS.

William

October 12th, 2011
2:24 pm

Lets see? No Flag, No pledge to the flag and no praying to our GOD. ( Unless you are muslim) Yes lets boycott The olive Gardens,Red Lobster and the longhorns. There are plenty of places to eat. However the Whitehouse profits wife may not approve your choice!

mike

October 12th, 2011
2:24 pm

What a nut case. I am a vet and I don’t want to eat and look at the flag. Next time get a private dining room and stop being stupid. Or better yet go finance your own place of business then you can do what you want. Plus you will give the other goobers posting here in your favor some where to go.

homer

October 12th, 2011
2:26 pm

Too bad Olive Garden is going to have to endure the wrath of the flag wavers. I suppose they should have been a little bit more sensitive considering it is Oxford, Alabama. Suppose it had been a group celebrating Gay Pride week and they brought a big rainbow flag and some banners? Would that have been okay with 80 year old Marti Warren and the Kiwanis club of Oxford, Alabama had they had the opportunity to share a dining room with a group of proud gay people?

Nate G

October 12th, 2011
2:26 pm

Probably their business what they want to display; however, their food sucks, so who cares!

Hayseed Dixie

October 12th, 2011
2:27 pm

Private establishments don’t *have* to display jack, buddy. They can do as they see fit.

That’s something I’ll gladly fight and die for.

Ga Peech

October 12th, 2011
2:28 pm

No more Olive Garden for our family. Period.

G.I. Joe

October 12th, 2011
2:30 pm

all you liberals that dont love the flag of our great Nation,go to North Korea or Cuba or China where you belong

Bluto

October 12th, 2011
2:30 pm

Homer if Marti Warren is OK with a rainbow flag next to Old Glory what would you say? Looks like you are just trying to pick a fight.
You=Fail

Glenn McDonald

October 12th, 2011
2:30 pm

Typical Idiotic American Behavior.

John Morgan

October 12th, 2011
2:30 pm

OG will stand up for their rights until their businesses start going belly up. Maybe there are enough Democrats to keep them in business, but these days I doubt it.

John Morgan

October 12th, 2011
2:32 pm

Throw Red Lobster in there also.

Bobo

October 12th, 2011
2:33 pm

The patron was told that his organization could not tack the American flag to the restaurant wall. That’s a perfectly acceptable policy, but perhaps it wasn’t communicated well by the restaurant staff.

George Mathis

October 12th, 2011
2:33 pm

Olive Garden has issued an apology, the story has been updated” “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.”

AmyG

October 12th, 2011
2:34 pm

all you “right” folks need to form an “Occupy Olive Garden” movement….government is killing capitalism, but we’ll boycott over the flag (which is the very thing that allowed the Olive GArden to say no in the first place)……

John Morgan

October 12th, 2011
2:34 pm

Do NO business with Darden restaurants! Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

Call it like it is

October 12th, 2011
2:34 pm

You know just like anything, it’s their restaurant and they have the right to do as they wish and serve to whom they want to. With that being said there are consequences to their actions. You have a local civic club with national ties that does a tremendous amount in their communities. Is this really the battle you want to fight? If so more power to you, but if the guys don’t come back, and their national chapters don’t come back, you only have yourself to blame. Wouldn’t be shocked if this particular Olive Garden gets it doors closed for their actions. But hey they stood their ground for what its worth.

Jim

October 12th, 2011
2:36 pm

Whatever happened to respecting the colors? Who cares about the decor of the OG! Remember all those men and women that paid the ultimate sacrifice to allow you the right to disagree with something like this! I am disappointed in the OG and all of those that think this is ok.
Signed,
Disgruntled Army retiree

homer

October 12th, 2011
2:36 pm

I think we all know how the Ron and Rand Paul followers feel about private property rights. Thank goodness for the Civil Rights Act. No one at Olive Garden was infringing upon Marti’s rights on the basis of race, creed, colorr, religion or sexual orientation. Marti and her group were welcome to dine in the restaurant. Only the flag and the banners were unwelcome. There are some restaurants that wouldn’t welcome Marti if she showed up in a warm up suit and Rockports. That’s just the way it is.

Mark

October 12th, 2011
2:37 pm

I guess if I wanted to go a restaurant fully naked but painted with an American flag, I should automatically have the right to do so? Rules are rules, there was no saying “no AMERICAN flags”, it was just that flags in general, which is similar to the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rules. Maybe I should go into such a place barefoot, and if they kick me out, and I can protest saying that as an American I have a right to go barefoot.

Neverending Breadstix

October 12th, 2011
2:39 pm

Vive la france! ?

Bluescat

October 12th, 2011
2:40 pm

Never going there