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

BILLY MAYS HERE

October 12th, 2011
4:52 pm

OLIVE GARDEN: this week’s conservative boogeyman

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
4:53 pm

wheres the god fearing patriotic kkk when u need them!

Joyce409

October 12th, 2011
4:53 pm

B-O-L-O-G-N-A!!!

SJS

October 12th, 2011
4:54 pm

Read the article!!! They made a mistake! Stupid employees don’t make it a bad place, just one with bad management.

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
4:54 pm

@billymays

next weekS conservative boogeyman: CHAZ BONO

Dissatisfied (Former) Customer

October 12th, 2011
4:54 pm

Dear GulfVet49:

When you cry so hard you get choked and die, I’ll be glad to drape a pretty Amrican flag on your casket.

BILLY MAYS HERE

October 12th, 2011
4:55 pm

RAAAGGHH!!! I AM ANGRY!!! ANGRY ABOUT FLAGS!!!

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
4:56 pm

its amazing that these uber patriots hate OBAMA {anything black} for that matter.

BILLY MAYS HERE

October 12th, 2011
4:56 pm

You know who else loved to display flags everywhere?

That’s right…

Hitler

Michael Lerner

October 12th, 2011
4:56 pm

The Birmingham Post/Dispatch is reporting that the Kiwanis Club in question was predominantly black and that they have retained veteran civil rights attorney Joe Weissman to represent them in a potential claim against Darden.

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
4:56 pm

i only eat at chinese resturants anyway. i love dogs, mmmm mmmm good!

GulfVet49

October 12th, 2011
4:57 pm

Dissatisfied-I’m not crying and not choking and I plan on cremation so there will be no casket. I still think you are rude and uncouth and you obviously didn’t learn any manners at home.

Rickey

October 12th, 2011
4:57 pm

He’s not black, he’s “Other”

Everyone in the South

October 12th, 2011
4:58 pm

I suddenly don’t care about this issue at all.

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
4:58 pm

@michael lerner

they werent denied their rights

BILLY MAYS HERE

October 12th, 2011
4:59 pm

lol, Your Honor, we are suing Darden for violating Alabama statute 666.69, “Crimes of Butthurtance”

debbie

October 12th, 2011
4:59 pm

olive garden mishandled this badly. they are housed in america, and in america you see things like the american flag. maybe we should see who owns olive garden and see if they are american born, or are they foreign born. that might explain it. just saying………

Dave

October 12th, 2011
4:59 pm

If someone doesn’t like the flag around then they should find a flag they like and go to hell to the country that has it.

BILLY MAYS HERE

October 12th, 2011
5:00 pm

Captain Midnight

October 12th, 2011
5:00 pm

Billy Mays is the screen name hijacker folks.

BILLY MAYS HERE

October 12th, 2011
5:01 pm

Actually, it’s you. You are the screen name hijacker, Captain Midnight.

billy

October 12th, 2011
5:01 pm

here lies the problem, this is not an Olive Garden decision, it was the manager on duty, for whatever reason they made the decision, and yes there is no problem in displaying the American Flag, and should never be any problem, and for everyone that does have a problem, then maybe they need to think of where they live and Love it or Leave it. There is no reason to boycott Olive Garden for making a bad decision, everyone does it one time or the other. Just remember what the American Flag stands for and be proud of it. And also be proud of the people that defend it.

BILLY MAYS HERE

October 12th, 2011
5:02 pm

Screw the flag and screw the vets. In my humble opinion.

Jonesy

October 12th, 2011
5:02 pm

Retired (Iraqi) Soldier- You should be ashamed of yourself. Those who died for this country should not be disrespected. I will pray for you.

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
5:03 pm

@dave

in america folks have a right not to like the flag! sorry if u hate our freedoms, maybe u should go to a country where youre forced to salute the flag.

GA GOP Lobbyist

October 12th, 2011
5:04 pm

I am so flag. this is unaccept. when has anyone ever the flag but god American. They are wrong and should flag because patriotist thing too do

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
5:05 pm

vets dont die for this country anymore. they die for internatioinal corporations, duh!

budman

October 12th, 2011
5:06 pm

Now Billy you are way too young to remember the only long war this country has ever fought…so get back in your tent and listen to the drum beats.

AmyG

October 12th, 2011
5:06 pm

Whether we like it or not, businesses can do what they want – that is Capitalism. Should they have turned away the American flag – no. Do they have the right to? Yes. And just as they made that choice, I can choose to eat somewhere else. I just don’t like the hypocrisy – not alot of people like the “Wall Street Occupiers” because theyre all hippies and want to overturn “Capitalism”….but then, when *unregulated* Capitalism denies the flag, everyone else gets angry. You simply cannot have it both way. Either we regulate companies or we dont.

billy

October 12th, 2011
5:06 pm

then please go back to where you came from, because our soldiers have died to protect you and your family, as a veteran, I too will pray for you to leave this country and try to have this life somewhere else, I have been around the world, we have it the best, even with our problems

Retired (Iraqi) Soldier

October 12th, 2011
5:08 pm

Pray for yourself, you pear-shaper loser.
I don’t need some flag-flunky/worshiper of some self-righteous, backward lizard-creature god saying prayers for me.
You and all the ignorant people wh think a flag really maters about anything are the cancer that is eating this country from the inside.

JonJon

October 12th, 2011
5:09 pm

What happens when someone wants to put up a rebel flag at a lunch meeting at the Olive Garden? How about a Mexican flag? Olive Garden just wants to serve food. They don’t want to be the United Nations.

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
5:12 pm

can we all just smoke a dooby and be friends?

Laurie

October 12th, 2011
5:16 pm

In light of every other slap in the face I’ve had to endure in an attempt to support and respect my country, this is just one more. First God was taken out of our schools. Then the Pledge of Allegiance was no longer politically correct. It’s okay to sneak into our country without signing the guest book, but I’m thinkin’ if we did it anywhere else, we’d be shot. Extremists from all over are threatening our shores. I had to vote to keep english the state language in Florida. Are you KIDDING ME??? The American flag, a symbol of our freedom and sacrifice is welcome ANYWHERE as far as I’m concerned. I fly it every day proudly. And I dare anyone to tell me I can’t.

Jess

October 12th, 2011
5:18 pm

Does anyone other than me see that Olive Garden said their associates were MISINFORMED and had apologized? GEEZ!!! Get a grip!

Terry Henriksen

October 12th, 2011
5:18 pm

The Kiwanis Club would typically be meeting in a private room, whether they are there for a regular business meeting or an annual banquet. The Kiwanis Banner is appropriate at any Kiwanis meeting. The American flag is generally present as the members recited the pledge to the flag. I don’t think they flag would be placed in the public area during this meeting. I hope the Kiwanis Club that typically uses the Olive Garden meeting room is able to find another restaurant – one proud to serve Americans who support their community.

billy

October 12th, 2011
5:20 pm

so budman which war is that, and i am by no means a kid, so please explain tent and drum beats, and what are you 80 years old or just a young kid with nothing else to do, and this will be my last post since there is way too much child play and lack of patriotism. I will say again Love it or Leave it, and I will always be proud of the American Flag and All of the Service Men and Women that have fought and died for this Country. And for the people who do not like it, please go to another country, because we do not need you here. Again, Thank You Veterans, Wartime and Peacetime. In God We Trust, or at least should.

allan hunt

October 12th, 2011
5:20 pm

The Kiwanis Club ,a patriotic organization,is having a banquet in honor Marti @Warren,it should be allowed for this banquet.these people are spending a lot of money there abd an exception should be made.It’s only for the night.The manager of Olive Garden was wrong and should have checked with the head office.

Wes

October 12th, 2011
5:21 pm

Private establishment or not, it is a public place. If OG denied someone the right to display a gay pride or NAACP banner there would be a tremendous outrage without any acknowledgement that the American flag represents the values and sacrifices that allow freedom of expression, religion, sexual orientation… need I say more.

Jake of Clubs

October 12th, 2011
5:21 pm

That is what is great about his country, you can hate it. Now that should make people love it even more but alas some people don’t. But that is their right. And that is what is great about this country. Those who say say there should be a law don’t get it. Then that would make this country less great. And more people would hate it. And they would be punished. and then this country would be less great. etc.

Do you people not get it?

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
5:22 pm

@laurie

god wasnt taken out of schools. besides what good did god do when the schools were segregated by christians who follow this god? religion equals racism

liberalefty

October 12th, 2011
5:24 pm

i’m going to the strip club tonight

Looking for Laurie

October 12th, 2011
5:25 pm

Has anyone seen Mike Hunt?
The big loud hairy weepy one.

Richard Davis

October 12th, 2011
5:25 pm

OG is not a private dinning establishment that is wrong, they are public, and if the Kiwanis booked the place for a meeting, it would not be held in the main dinning area, but some where more private. In agreeing to book the meeting, they in turn agree to turnover this area to the Kiwanis, and the Kiwanis have a banner, and a flag at all their meetings, this is their right. I have seen in some of the post people are saying the flag was Enormous, how do you know this? Have you ever been to one of there meetings? Others have said, can’t people leave the flag alone for a while? do they always have to wrap themselve’s in the flag? Well. it is there right to have a flag at there meetings, it should not concern anyone who is not a member what they do, or have in their meetings. They are a very wothwhile group, they contracted a PUBLIC restaurant to provide space for a meeting, so there should not have been a problem with what they brought with them to conduct the meeting. It was a bad call on the store management, that is all. OG has made amends, that should be the end of it.

Pete

October 12th, 2011
5:26 pm

Imagine planning a nice evening out with your wife. You decide on having dinner at Olive Garden and a movie. You arrive at the restaurant and are greeted by the hostess who leads you to a cozy table for two. As you enjoy the quite conversation with your spouse, sipping your drinks and enjoying your appetizers – here comes Aunt Martha with a big beautiful American flag on a pole. She sits the large brass flag base next to your table and inserts the pole. So, here you sit in the middle of Olive Garden next to a big beautiful American flag. I’m sorry folks – but it does ruin the atmosphere. I love our country and have fought for it. I have the utmost respect for our colors but seriously Aunt Martha, the people who oppose you bringing your flag into a restaurant has nothing to do with, “hating the country”. It is unusual and distracting. If you started to loudly sing Christian gospel music I would also object. It is not that I am “anti-Christian”, it is that it would be inappropriate for Olive Garden. I am a Christian and love gospel music but there is a time and place for everything. Why are people who oppose this being labled “anti American”? It is silly.

susan

October 12th, 2011
5:27 pm

I think OG was in their right to say no. The flag has a time and a place and that wasnt either

erma ball

October 12th, 2011
5:27 pm

our flag has a place in all businesses in america, our flag is a symbol of why an italian , mexican, cuban or any ethinicity can operate a restuarant in america, i do not and will not believe that americans visit these restuarants because they are italian, mexican or whatever, americans visit these places because they are restuarants in america and the american flag should be as proudly displayed as the flag of the country where the cuisine originated. if it were not for the things our flag represents these restuarants would be in their original country not in ours.

Egad

October 12th, 2011
5:28 pm

As a retired Army Vet with 23 yrsof serving this country I have to say…..It’s not really a big deal. They have every right to not fly the American Flag or allow someone else to do so at their establishment. As long as they arent Burning or disrespecting Old Glory then I really don’t see a problem.

Black Knight

October 12th, 2011
5:31 pm

Never saw so many idiots. The ones that don’t like the flag are are your typical liberals who hate this country anywayt. For them, you need to read the article. They do allow the flag for occasions including military private parties, and other such get togethers, and they do not have a policy that refuses to let the flag be shown. Only liberal idiots do that. It was not an enormous flag, but a small 4X6 that they put up on the wall behind the podium when they are speaking. You can bet those at the olive garden will be given a dress down for being stupid.

Pat Meredith

October 12th, 2011
5:34 pm

I worked for the Olive Garden in Ft. Myers, FL. for three years. I handled banquets and special groups. We NEVER refused to allow a group to display an American Flag. For example, we hosted the Democratic Women of Lee County every month and they proudly displayed an American flag in our dining room. This is NOT corporate policy – it was an ill conceived decision made by an over zealous manager!