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

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?

Hot and Fresh

October 12th, 2011
11:56 am

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

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!

Kyle

October 12th, 2011
12:01 pm

I gave up eating that fake Italian crap a long time ago but just another reason never to go again and hopefully they will finally go out of business.

chuck e

October 12th, 2011
12:02 pm

Obviously a short sighted business decision that will bite them in the rear end and cost them business.

SayWhat

October 12th, 2011
12:04 pm

I, too, care – a lot. This was not just some guy wanting to tote around a flag (and if it were, he should certainly have that right). The Kiwanis Clubs are all about community, which means our country. For Olive Garden to refuse to allow them to bring a flag in for a meeting because it might “disrupt the experience of other customers” – IN AMERICA – is getting a little scary.

Skegeeace

October 12th, 2011
12:04 pm

The idea of the decor in an Olive Garden is to make the diner feel like they’re in Italy. A big American flag might disrupt that theme. I don’t think OG is anti-American, I just think they wanted to have a certain feel to their restaurant. People need to stop treating the flag like an idol. It has meaning, but it has it’s place in life like everything else.

whocares

October 12th, 2011
12:05 pm

because they would not allow someone to tote an ENORMOUS American flag into the restaurant? There is a time and place for everything…that was neither the time or the place.

jj

October 12th, 2011
12:05 pm

Oh geesh here we go, again. Now everybody will jump on the bandwagon with calls to ‘boycott Olive Garden…’. It’s a private restaurant why shouldn’t they have the right to say no flags? Or no baggy pants? Bet no one would be whining about that one. These poor people will probably end up having to give this loony woman and her organization a free banquet. What a crock.

SBinF

October 12th, 2011
12:06 pm

If the guy wanted to put up a big old rainbow flag, I’m sure you folks would think Olive Garden should allow that too, right?

Go eat a meal, quit wrapping yourself in a flag at every spare moment.

td

October 12th, 2011
12:08 pm

So if every single diner who came in wanted to display a flag on the wall, they should be able to? Where does it end with you people?

jj

October 12th, 2011
12:09 pm

PS: To those who say they’ll ‘never eat there again’. Drive by on any night of the week and you’ll see, you won’t be missed. Their food is great. Their prices are fair. They have a right to say “NO” to anything they see as, well worthy of saying “NO” to.

Prez Obozo

October 12th, 2011
12:09 pm

If it would have been a bomb building muslim they would have helped hang their flag!

Nana

October 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

Was the flag enormous? I have to say I can see both sides. If it was “enormous”, I can see not letting it in. If not, what would it have hurt? Initially, it makes me want to think twice about being a patron in one of these establishments but there are generally two sides to every story and when does the media ever give ALL the facts?

whocares

October 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

The actual story is too funny. They “closed their eyes and imagined the flag waving in the wind” as they said the pledge of allegiance.
Worshiping a flag borderlines idolatry to me, but that is just me.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

Sure they have a right to decide what they allow in their restaurant..just as they should be free to decide to not serve blacks, or hispanics, or whites..yet the lefttards would scream bloody murder about that exercise of private property rights

Ron

October 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

Since we’re not there who knows how this was presented to Olive Garden. They could’ve said no to a bunch of other things but all that gets mentioned is the flag.
Who goes to the Olive Garden for a banquet? It’s not like it has extra rooms separated from the rest of the restaurant.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
12:13 pm

“The stronger my love for my people grew, the deeper became my hatred for those who would destroy my race, my heritage, and darken the future of my children.”

Robert Jay Mathews..HERO

Communications

October 12th, 2011
12:13 pm

Read the story again. The Kiwanis Club was going to have a meeting, it wasn’t a single person. The Kiwanis Club says the pledge of allegiance before their meeting. If the Club and the restaurant had communicated, they could have worked it out, or the Club could have booked another restaurant. They didn’t address that before the event, obviously. Olive Garden has its rights. The Kiwanis Club has its rights. It was just a lack of communications in advance.

nita

October 12th, 2011
12:14 pm

Please don’t go to this restaurant anymore, that way those of us who just want to sit down and enjoy dinner don’t have to deal with nut cases. I love America as much as any one but the flag does not belong inside. Good call for the Darden Group. If they had a private dinning area they would have allowed her to bring the flag. How about you have dinner catered by Olive Garden at the American Legion . Better yet Ryans, Golden Coral or any where you can reserve a private room if you want to display the flag.

Big John

October 12th, 2011
12:16 pm

I am a member of the Kiwanis club and our Americian flag is displayed on a pole. Unless there is a 25 mile an hour wind inside the Olve Garden, you would never see the flag. Come on Olive Garden, get a life !

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
12:17 pm

Darden is not the real story here..as I said above, I am for TRUE private property rights..want to ban photos of obama, UGA fans, me, blacks, gays? it is your right..

The telling thing is how many of you detest our flag and think it would somehow detract from your dining experience , after all, then you might not see the full wall of fake stucco, or the plastic grapes which really set a overpriced meal of heat and serve pre cooked pasta OFF..

Gary

October 12th, 2011
12:19 pm

What I dont get is why they allowed the Kiwanis to book a banquet in their public dining area if they didnt have a private room. Its a little disengenuous to say that the flag would have dirupted other diners when I would imagine a room full of Kiwanians would have already been disruptive to others in the restaurant. Lesson learned… next time Kiwanians, find a place with a private room. For you Olive Garden, don’t book a private banquet in a public dining room.

Chuck

October 12th, 2011
12:19 pm

Seriously – there are, I am sure, plenty of places with private dining rooms where you can hold a banquet.

In fact, places like that, with rooms like that, are specifically built for banquets and other similar events.

You simply cannot set up in the common dining area of an active restaurant like you would in a private room.

Born"N" The USA.

October 12th, 2011
12:22 pm

just dont eat there any more, its their right not to allow the flag..but we dont have to eat there ,thats our right. also buy products ” Made IN The USA “

truth hurts

October 12th, 2011
12:22 pm

Big John is right…The flag is on a pole and sits in a base plate. No one was draping a 10x 8′ flag across the wall. This is the US not Iran. Bad business call by the Olive Garden….Restaurants sales are down enough…this will not help them…

rick

October 12th, 2011
12:24 pm

At least we have Provino’s in Atlanta. No need for the Olive Garden.

Oxford Native

October 12th, 2011
12:25 pm

This isn’t about patriotism. This is about a business being able to control their environment which is part of their product.

It wasn’t about what was on the flag, it was about the size of the flag.

George Orwell

October 12th, 2011
12:26 pm

I told you this kind of stuff was gonna happen!!!!!

Richard Bagge

October 12th, 2011
12:29 pm

I’m all in favor of anything that prompts anybody to quit eating at Olive Garden. Only, this time, I wish it wasn’t some octogenarian crybaby whining to Fox News that a business on private property has somehow obtained the right to do as it wishes with its interior decoration. As complaints go, this is a pathetic one.

whocares

October 12th, 2011
12:30 pm

People are funny…I have been to several Olive Gardens, and they don’t have a private area to hold that type of event. That is like having a banquet in McDonald’s or Burger King. People are so hypersensitive.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
12:32 pm

Very true, Georgie..but it was supposed to come about at the hands of an efficient and ruthless fascist dictatorship..we stumbled into the same outcome with inept bloated bureaucracy and the abject retardation of vast swaths of the populace.

Curious

October 12th, 2011
12:33 pm

Was the group welcoming home a war hero? Reason enough for an American flag?

The United States of China

October 12th, 2011
12:33 pm

How big was the flag pole? 10 ft.? 30 ft.? Table top? Let’s not get carried away by the media.

Also, club meetings should be held in separate quarters away from the general public. I don’t want to eat next to any group conducting affairs, whether it be a Kiwanis Club, Key Club, Lions Club, or the Mickey Mouse Club.

Caring is Scaring

October 12th, 2011
12:37 pm

Seriously, if you care about this issue, you are a huge loser.
That old man needs to take those stars and stripes and shove them up his endless salad bowl.
The bread sticks are delicious and America is just so-so anymore.
If I have to choose between Olive Grden and my country I’ll move to Italy.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I grew up strong and proud in the U.S. of A., and I beleive Babby Jesus dies for our sins, but who needs to stare at the flag while they’re trying to enjoy succulent pasta dishes and decadent tiramisu-like pudding?
But hear me out: I can misspell political signs and laugh at third-grade race jokes about the President with the best of ‘em, but making me choose between Olive Garden and Ol’ Glory is like asking me to choose between my niece and my cousin. Let’s just say the buffet at Shoney’s has been a little too kind to my cousin these last few years.
I still love my country and I can’t stop singing that Lee Greenwood song to save my life. But at the end of the day, if you can’t sit down with a bunch of ignorant old white people in po-dunk Bama and enjoy a plate of lasagna without needing to have a flag flying out of your backside, then you need to just stay in your trailer.
So Ima keepon eating at the Olive Garden, and when we bomb Iran over some trumped up boloney, I’ll put the little flags back on my car windows when I drive to the first baptist church. Heck, maybe I’ll even put a “W” sticker on my bumber just for nostalgia.
Go Dawgs!

L2thaISA

October 12th, 2011
12:38 pm

I fully agree, Olive Garden has the right to say “NO FLAGS”. That is what makes the USA the BEST place to live. That being said I will never eat their again and that is my right! If Olive Garden was so worried about their customers, they should have thought this one through a little better.

B-Boy

October 12th, 2011
12:43 pm

I think the Olive Garden has the right not to allow the flag in their establishment, just has the Kiwanis Club now has the right not to have their meetings their anymore, just as I have the right not to eat there anymore either because of their poor marketing judgement. Oh!…or Reb Loberster too! Don’t forget they are both owned by the same company.

Pedro

October 12th, 2011
12:43 pm

You flag haters can all suck my armpit. If a few Kiwanis Club members were sitting down to lunch with other diners then carry on the Italian theme or whatever without additional symbolism. But they chartered a banquet room. If the Nazi party chartered a banquet room they should be able to fly a swastika if they wanted to and there would be lawsuits if denied. So wrap yourselves in a turban if you like and deny that the American Flag should have any presence anywhere. Get over YOURSELVES and remember what country you live in.

Jeff

October 12th, 2011
12:44 pm

Completely ignorant. Who brings a giant flag into a restaurant anyway. I’m sure the corporate PR people at Darden will issue an apology and give the Kiwanis club free banquets for life. This will end up on an email and thousands of people will “Stand up” for ol glory. Really people? Of all the issues in Oxford Alabama this is the one that will take front and center?

Waiting for how this gets tied to Barack in 3, 2, 1,

Tammy

October 12th, 2011
12:45 pm

The story reads this was to be in a private dining room so it would not have been in the middle of a dining area for all to see. They should have allowed this. Where is the harm , it is a shame. Where is the America we use to know. On the other hand thank you OG because I will not give my money to people who can not stand up for our country!

Pedro

October 12th, 2011
12:46 pm

Or move to Italy where the economy is worse than our sorry situation. Talking to your Scaring. Delta is ready.

contrarian

October 12th, 2011
12:46 pm

“…the deeper became my hatred…”

It’s very revealing that a conservative considers that statement heroic.

What’s also revealing is the abandonment of the fundamentally capitalistic ideal that a business has the right to deny things that they perceive to be an impediment to their cash flow. (Personally, I think it was a bad decision for no other reason than the negative publicity that it would likely generate would cause an even greater impediment.) As another poster pointed out, if this were about baggy pants every conservative in this thread would be on Olive Garden’s side.

The only reason the ’story’ made the papers is because the gatekeepers knew that conservatives will howl about it and create yet another contrived controversy. It’s so much easier and far more fun than actually reporting news.

Rich

October 12th, 2011
12:47 pm

I can see why the flag might be a distraction from an otherwise completely authentic Italian dining experience.

pebblebeach

October 12th, 2011
12:48 pm

You Go OG…

Worst. Flag. Ever.

October 12th, 2011
12:56 pm

I owned two restaurants in Gwinnett County. They have nice decor and excellent food. And they don’t have any American flags?
Why?
Because it is completely distasteful. It is one of the ugliest flags in the world.
I proudly fly the flags of Mexico and Honduras in my restaurant. These are beautiful, meaningful flags. Unlike those hideous stars and stripes in those pathetic colors.
When I see an American flag I want to spit on it and tear it down. Not because I don’t love this country. well, I think it’s ok, but whatever.
It’s just that the American flag is so stupid looking. It just hangs there, looking at all dumb and confused. Stars and stripes. Yeah, that’s real creative and full of meaning. Give me a break. My five-year-old has made better looking banners in his pants.
The bottom line is that the flag lacks any authenticity, just like its people. It is the flag of a nation of people who only know how to get what they need by taking from others by force.
It is a filthy emblem and if anyone brought one into my restaurant I would throw them out on their can.
Viva Mexico!!

Mike Honcho

October 12th, 2011
12:56 pm

If you don’t think Olive Garden is wrong here, please, I’m begging you…get the H@LL out of my country!

urban redneck

October 12th, 2011
12:57 pm

i”ll add them to my subway boycott………plus that chevron station on chamblee tucker.

Sigh...

October 12th, 2011
12:59 pm

Tammy, sweetie, this is a direct quote from the SECOND sentence in the story:
“The company said it did not have a private dining area and the flag would have disrupted the experience of other customers.” Read it again. And how big was this flag anyway? Besides, Olive Garden is as Italian as Stouffers frozen lasagna.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 12th, 2011
1:00 pm

@contrarian

Hatred is every bit as valid an emotion as love, and infinitely more useful..

I share the rest of your point in my previous post.. I believe in total private ownership of business ..be it the flag or openly gay couples, a business must be allowed to pick and choose whom and what it will allow under it’s roof. Sadly, very few Americans understand Liberty and free markets…and far fewer on the left do, than on the right.

Flag Waver

October 12th, 2011
1:00 pm

I just want to say that I lack reading comprehension skills and therefore I believe that the flag was to be displayed in a private banquet room.
Despite the fact the article stated that the restaurant is public property and has no designated banquet space, I would like to point to the fact that the flag was to be displayed in a private area.
In summary, I am a moron.
Now I must go discuss the finer points of Fair Tax with my unemployed friends. Good day.