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

beauhunter

October 12th, 2011
5:34 pm

I fought for that flag and all it stands for and that is the right for all you idiots to post your stupid ass comments about this.If you dont like this country then get the Hell out but here we are proud of our nation.

Bob Jacquin

October 12th, 2011
5:34 pm

If they were having a banquet and paying for the use of the area and services they should have been allowed to bring in the American Flag. It will offend more people that this was not allowed than offend the people that were in the resturant. Customers as well as employees. God Bless America. And for those who dont support our freedom and country, just get the hell out. We will be better off without you. Maybe I will think twice before I go to a Darden owned resturant

Pat Meredith

October 12th, 2011
5:36 pm

oh! and “Black Knight,” you are talking through your hat. I happen to be a liberal and have been all of my adult life and I respect the American flag and fly Her whenever the occasion is appropriate. Save your “liberal bashing” for a more appropriate venue, please.

America the Beautiful

October 12th, 2011
5:37 pm

For all those who have lost a loved one recently, or in the past, who was representing our country – AMERICA – what kind of taste does this leave in your mouth. I’m disgusting of what direction this country is leading us to. So for those who don’t care and think it is ok to let all these foriegners into our country and its ok to keep letting them take all of our social security, health care, funding for OUR children, enroll and spend a few years in the service and see how you feel about this.

Rick Shay

October 12th, 2011
5:39 pm

When is it “not appropriate” to honor the flag?

Pete

October 12th, 2011
5:44 pm

I hope she did not go to the movies after dinner. Can you imagine her sitting in the middle row with this big beautiful American Flag unfurled in all its glory? If anyone in the rows behind her object they should be kicked out of the country! How dare they disrespect the stars and stripes! If they think the flag is “inappropriate” to have on display in an American theater than get out of America! Love it or Leave it! Yehawww~! Lock & Load! God Bless the USA! I hate all these gosh dang socialist , hippie, muslim, communist, black theology christian, Obama lovers! praise jaysus!

Jack

October 12th, 2011
5:45 pm

After all it was a Kiwanis club meeting, lasting a few hours, who really cares what the anti-americans think!

Gods Hates Flags

October 12th, 2011
5:46 pm

It please God when your sons and daughters die in a fire. Especially those stupid enough to serve in the least efficient military in the world.
And God hates your stupid stars abd stripes. It is the WORST FLAG EVER.
The end.

Jack

October 12th, 2011
5:47 pm

If you do not like my flag, then you have the right to leave my country!

Jack

October 12th, 2011
5:49 pm

Leave my country, gods hates flags! And before you write something else, learn proper Englis and how to spell!

jthetyger

October 12th, 2011
5:50 pm

Last I checked we are in US that allows this establishment the right to freely serve food so why would they ban an American flag? ^&** all you flag haters I hope you all choke on the garbage food OG serves!

HG

October 12th, 2011
5:50 pm

I just Learned that The parent firm of Olive Garden, Darden restaurants, which also operates the Red Lobster and Longhorn chains, is based in Orlando. will no longer get my business. I spent most of my life giving them the right to refuse to allow the American Flag there. If they wish for it to be more like Italy then move it there. And guess what you will find the American Flag displayed there in Italy.

budman

October 12th, 2011
5:57 pm

No Billy I am happy retired…and really love the demostrations that I missed in the 1960’s. I am not a crazy flag waving liberal or what ever you want to call it. Most of the people who know nothing about the foriegn wars this country has fought is usually just as ignorant about this countries history. they wish to fall back on racism and our problems from 2 centuries ago. BTW you may want to watch the news, no matter painfull, but there are demonstrations going on which are about 2 years late. BTW I could buy the Dixie Chicks. Loved it when the stock market fell, I made thousands when you buy Ford stock @ $2.14 a share and sell for $14.00 a share it’s about the money dog…this is why his country is the best…I could care less what you say or you can burn an American flag if you want..don’t matter to me in the least..just watch your 6 o’clock there are some pissed off Iraq and Afgan vets running around all us Viet Vets just are to old and mellow..these young guys are another story.

Pete

October 12th, 2011
5:57 pm

I bet Obama pals around with the CEO of Olive garden. He probably planned the whole thing with Osama Bin Laden. It was his master follow up stroke to 911. It probably took years to formulate and execute. They will probably come after our gun rights next. We have to stick together and vote Republican. We can still take our country back. Stay away from the liberal media, Fox news will fill us in on whats really going on so we know how to vote next November. Praise Jesus and God Bless the USA!

Southern Belle

October 12th, 2011
5:57 pm

Oh well another restaurant I will not patronize, if you can’t respect this country’s flag then get the H**L out of here. My father and brother didn’t fight in wars for this country so idiots like that refuse to acknowledge the AMERICAN FLAG

Tina

October 12th, 2011
5:58 pm

did no one read the comments by the company, they apologized it says some team members were were misinformed about company policy and that they do NOT have a company policy about bringing a flag in, and they are taking steps to assure this does not happen again. Its always some form of miscommunication!

beat up in america

October 12th, 2011
5:59 pm

The Mexican flag o.k? The flag from any middle eastern country o.k? This company needs to just pack it in and go offshore like a lot of company’s did and see if they can survive. I bet the Mexicans or any other country would buy let alone eat their slop anyway! Not American, GO AWAY plain and simple.

aboynamedboobs

October 12th, 2011
5:59 pm

This pisses me off. Not that Olive Garden denied grandpa the right to rub a flag in everybodies face (which is the right of the Olive Garden as a private establishment), but that this is what the news has become. If you want to be a good patriotic news outlet than why not cover the americans protesting coast to coast in the name of social equality?

oorah

October 12th, 2011
5:59 pm

Some of you crack me up. I don’t recall the size of the flag mentioned. If you have a problem with someone being patriotic, leave. I can tell you never served your country. And yes i put in 20 years and am damn proud of it.

bill

October 12th, 2011
6:00 pm

i will never enter an olive garden again.

Gail

October 12th, 2011
6:01 pm

This article is a snippet of what transpired and so is confusing for those of you thinking you understand what the situation was. They weren’t bringing a flag to hang up on the wall of the place and it wasn’t a grandiose sized flag. It was a portable one they used regularly to say the pledge of allegiance. THe members of the Kiwanis Club are war vets and they use it during certain meetings for that purpose.

The management apparently did not understand corporate policy on banners and such, so they told the club that had made prior meeting arrangements that they could not bring it into the place that evening as a general policy on banners, though it was for their temporary use during the meeting. They were told the American flag was offensive “to some diners”…..that is the reason they were offended…why would we be offending anyone by using our American flag in the USA? I say if someone is then go back to THEIR country…….why come here and act that way? I have lived abroad and when I am in the host country I abide by their rules/laws and culture…….I am not offended by their flag and I respect them…….If we as Americans don’t stand up for our own then we might as well roll over and declare it taken over by others…the flag is a symbol of our laws, people, heritage and the blood spilt to have this country free.

By the way….I find those annoying, loud clapping “Happy Birthday’s” from all the employees sung to ‘Joe Blow anybody the next table over’ to be far more annoying to my meal than a simple quick Pledge of Allegiance to the country I am a proud and loyal citizen of.

Anthony Paul

October 12th, 2011
6:02 pm

Let’s get it straight….An hour before the banquet was to begin, she wants to hang an American Flag on the walls (she did not bring a flagpole/stand…she brought hooks that were to be screwed into the walls). The flag was 8ft x 5ft. So, all you upset people expected Olive Garden to remove their decor, allow holes to be put in the walls, and then repair/replace their decor?? Now, what if another group, say, Daughters of the Confederacy, wanted to put up the Confederate Flag at a similar banquet in the same restaurant??? Would you be upset?? What if the next group wanted to put up a Nazi Banner??? Would you be so upset that you protest for their right to hang their flag/banner??? Get real people…Olive Garden has a blanket policy…if they bend it for one, then they have to allow all. Think for a minute…would you be boycotting OG if the situation were one of the other examples???

markws

October 12th, 2011
6:03 pm

I travel the world and when I arrive home and see ole glory it makes me very proud and very honored to be an American. I know I am home when I see the stars and stripes…Other countries around the world fly their flags with pride…we need to do the same…

markws

October 12th, 2011
6:04 pm

Anthony Paul, you are a fool and idiot…to even compare our flag to the nazi flag etc…I turn my to you in shame!

markws

October 12th, 2011
6:07 pm

Let me guess…the manager is probably a liberal democrat…you know…flag burners, spit on our troops etc type of human waste!

Pete

October 12th, 2011
6:08 pm

I agree with “Oorah”! God Bless America! Anyone who does not agree with us should be forced out of the country! Here in the USA we love FREEDOM! If you do not love it than leave it! If you think any different then you should be locked up or kicked out. Thats what FREEDOM is all about, you liberal whackos. It is so obvious none of you lefties served your country – I can tell you never served or you would feel and think just like me. Get you hippie stench out of my country! God Bless America!

john falon

October 12th, 2011
6:08 pm

An American flag should be flying everywhere.It’s a symbol of freedom If you don’t like it move to another country. Most of the people who complain are foreigners who get everything for nothing we are supporting them. Go back to were you came from. . GOD BLESS OUR MILITARY. They put their butts on the line to keep a safe and free. Fly those flags proudly.

GOD BLESS AMERICAN

wilson neff

October 12th, 2011
6:09 pm

Hey OG. Take your ITALIAN food and stuff it……………………..

Troy

October 12th, 2011
6:16 pm

The choice of people to boycott or not to boycott will inevitably be up to them. The American flag is more to most Americans than just a piece of colored material. It signifies the struggles and hardships including a sacrifice of life to maintain a certain set of ideals that a great many have lost sight of. If you are unable to respect the flag OR you don’t have respect for what it represents, then I suggest you take your bleeding heart socialist behind to a country that will take care of you, Freedom is what this is about, not Olive Garden. If they want everyone to have a unique “Italian style dining experience”, maybe they should not allow children in either because they might be a distraction.

David

October 12th, 2011
6:20 pm

Getting all uppity about meaningless symbols like flags is dumb. But eating at Olive Garden is dumb, too, so I guess it all evens out.

CLINT357

October 12th, 2011
6:22 pm

Anyone who finds fault with a request to a restaurant to display an American flag on thier property while holding a meeting and therefore suporting that establishment are probably the same morons who are supporting the “Occupy Philly” etc. “movements”. You know the “movements” that are costing the taxpayers millions of dollars every day just putting up with thier antics. By the way the only reason these clowns can get away with this is because of the sacrifices made by people, unlike themselves, who died to keep that flag flying.

P.S. DARDEN is a CORPORATION so by todays mind set, the enemy. So many reasons not to support them…………………………………….

Pete

October 12th, 2011
6:22 pm

We should band together like our founding fathers at the original tea party in Boston only it will be called the Spaghetti Party. We should storm all of the Olive Gardens and throw their spaghetti dinners in the parking lot in a giant pile of trash. We can destroy their company and run the owners out of the USA! That will teach them socialists what FREEDOM is really all about! Oorah! God Bless the USA! If you have a loved one who is serving in the military and you believe in the lord Jesus Christ then do not eat at the Olive garden! Amen.

Harriet P. Belfiore

October 12th, 2011
6:22 pm

Thank You so much for this story… I will never eat in Olive Garden, long horn or Red Lobster EVER AGAIN!!! This is what is WRONG with America today!!!

Freedom dude

October 12th, 2011
6:23 pm

Their business, their right to not allow it.

My money, my right not to spend it at any of their establishments.

Problem solved.

SLAAPPY

October 12th, 2011
6:23 pm

DONT SIT DOWN AND EAT AT A HOUSE OF

TREASON !

Sherry

October 12th, 2011
6:24 pm

They had a planned banquet at the restaurant and the restaurant would have had to know ahead of time to plan the appropriate staffing. Most events are held in a separate area of restaurants specifically designed for large parties so as to not disrupt other patrons. Nothing in the article stated it was a HUGE flag. The company has apologized and made their policy clear. For those who think their right to not respect the flag is more important than someone else’s choice to respect it – get over yourself.

freemerryjane

October 12th, 2011
6:26 pm

BIG DEAL ITS AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT ANYWAY.

Yog-Sothoth

October 12th, 2011
6:27 pm

ABC

October 12th, 2011
12:00 pm
Can’t these people go a few hours without seeing an American flag? Sheesh. Good for Olive Garden for standing up!
whocares

October 12th, 2011
11:55 am
That is their right not to allow someone to tote a flag into their restaurant. It is a private dining establishment…who does that anyway?

I’ll tell you who: organizations that have in their by-laws that the flag must be on display during their meetings, especially organizations that have RENTED the space for that time to have said meeting, that’s who.
And to ABC that said good for Olive Garden for standing up… I say you stand with them and while you are standing go ahead and walk your unAmerican asses out of my country!!

Pete

October 12th, 2011
6:28 pm

Olive garden is just like Nazi germany and the CEO is like Hitler. How can you sicko liberals eat at Hitlers restaurant?! God Bless the USA!

I care

October 12th, 2011
6:28 pm

Are country is become so politicaly correct that people have forgot how to be proud of their country. If you dont like are flag and agree that a customer at a planned event can not bring in the American Flag into that event then get the heck out of our beloved country . We dont want you here.

Pete

October 12th, 2011
6:31 pm

Obama eats at Olive Garden.

Paul Erickson

October 12th, 2011
6:31 pm

“whocares” is an ass. ANY public establishment in this country who does not allow the American flag to fly should be boycotted. I can’t stand to see a foreign flag sticker on a car without the American flag sticker above it. We should not allow foreigners to mount ANY sign that is not English.

Jim Chambers

October 12th, 2011
6:34 pm

Hey-That’s just great! We have a President who won’t salute the Flag–a bunch of Un-Employed Bums in New York City who have the right to assemble peacefully and NOW one of my Formally Favorite Restaurant Doesn’t like the AMERICAN FLAG…..they really don’t need my business anyway. PLUS a LOT of Brave People Gave Up Their Lives so That Company would have the RIGHT to DENY a Great Service Orgnization like the Kiwanis their Right to put up An American Flag!! I guess they don’t want the Kiwanis business either….

budman

October 12th, 2011
6:39 pm

Isn’t the Kiwanis club billed as the friends( lighthouse) of the blind….just saying is this a cold snap of irony or what?

Proud American

October 12th, 2011
6:40 pm

They can say no if they want and we can say “NO” by not eating there. If it was a Mexican flag you liberals would be all over that. What a poor way to invite customers in.

Pete

October 12th, 2011
6:40 pm

I’m tired of all these unAmerican liberals! I live in Dublin, Ohio and I have to look at all these stupid stores signs written in “Gaelic” or whatever the Irish call it. This is America, we speak ENGLISH! I have to drive through German Villiage, Ohio and also see abunch of crap written in Deutsch or whatever…we are in the USA – speak English! Now I cannot even go to Olive garden without these liberal lefties taking away my American Flag! Love it or leave it! Go back where you came from if you love it so much! If you do not agree you should be locked up or shot. Thats what FREEDOM is all about! Amen and God Bless.

MeaneyMouse

October 12th, 2011
6:40 pm

HEYYYYYY YOU DANGED WOODCHUCKS!! QUIT CHUCKING MY WOOD /(*..*)\

SmartGrandma

October 12th, 2011
6:44 pm

First Alabama passes an illegal alien law that allows police to arrest five-year old children who are suspected to be illegals. Then an Alabama OLIVE GARDEN shows its Confederate Roots with anti-Kiwanis & anti-American Flag behavior I’ll eat my own Italian food at home, and my feet will never touch Alabama soil.

rsaenz

October 12th, 2011
6:44 pm

People are taking this TOO seriously!!! Who cares!! Let Olive Garden do what they want. If I had a business, I wouldn’t hang the flag. Doesn’t mean that I don’t love my country.

SavyShopper

October 12th, 2011
6:45 pm

Just another example of INTOLERANCE for decent, hardworking Americans…
Shame on Olive Garden and their Politically INCORRECT employees. NO TIP for these Bozo’s….!!!