You quickly learn that a customer knife fight is preferable to running out of breadsticks
The Olive Garden has become something of a culinary punch line in recent years. As America has become more food-conscious and food-savvy, national casual dining chains have been widely maligned, but the Olive Garden has a special target on its back for its co-opting and repurposing of Italian cuisine in ridiculously American formats.
While on a date, a Twitter user learned that his companion was actually the former general manager of the Times Square Olive Garden, which, alongside Guy Fieri’s neighboring restaurant, might well serve as the nadir of American cuisine. I mean, it’s a place with a 45-day, all-you-can-eat option called a “Pasta Pass.” People are going to get judgmental.
Not content to let the former GM keep his experience to himself, the Twitter user, Joe Wadlington, began a thorough and engaging interrogation, all the while posting the GM’s responses on Twitter for the world to share.
Joe frames the encounter and revelations pretty perfectly in his Tweets, so kick back and enjoy.
I went on a date last night and the guy meekly shared that he used to be THE GENERAL MANAGER FOR THE TIMES SQUARE OLIVE GARDEN.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618084.0
Clearly, he'd seen some shit. So the next hour and a half was me asking questions. I tried to do y'all right.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618170.0
It took all of three tweets until he touched on the chain’s famous—or possibly “infamous”—bottomless breadsticks.
Q Did y'all ever run out of breadsticks? If so what happened? A Yes. Twice. Worst shifts of my life. People were angry, kept telling us "no"— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618273.0
It’s hard not to imagine a roomful of Times Square tourists just uttering “No,” over and over again when they learn they will be denied free bread.
"They kept saying, 'OLIVE GARDEN DOESNT DO THAT, our Olive Garden, in Ohio, doesn't do that."— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618357.0
Diners are left telling managers how things are done at Olive Garden. God help the staff the day they ran out of breadsticks.
Q: Was everyone from Ohio? A: Brazil, Puerto Rico, & Ohio. The foreigners I understood. They'd grown up watching O.G. commercials.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618476.0
Q: National pricing or city pricing? A: City pricing. It made no sense why the Americans were there. They were paying 3x for the same food.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618532.0
Rent for a three-story building in Times Square isn’t cheap, so these diners were paying some top shelf prices to eat their familiar food.
A: How big is it? Q: Three floors. It may be the biggest Olive Garden in the world. The wait was always 2 hours. Our last seating was at 2AM— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618603.0
And they would wait until 2 a.m. to get it, remarkably.
Note: I think he may have been trying to impress me here. Note, note: It worked.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618636.0
Q: What was the most popular dish? A: The tour of Italy Q: What? A: It's a plate of lasagna, a chicken parmesan, & one fettuccine alfredo— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618821.0
That’s a pretty American tour of Italy these diners are taking.
Q: That's too much food for one person A: It's too much food for three people Q: How much? A: Maybe $25— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492618899.0
As you can imagine, it’s hard to have a conversation about the Times Square Olive Garden without drawing upon the stereotypes surrounding Americans in general, Middle American tourists, and the types of people who visit New York to eat a larger version of a restaurant that exists in every city in America.
A: Not on my shifts. But if someone wanted to, Olive Garden would not let us remove them. They are "family" and would be allowed to eat.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619073.0
“They are ‘family’ and would be allowed to eat” almost sounds like a passage from the Bible.
Q: That's really good to know. A: People can't eat that much bread. [I started laughing because he's wrong]— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619151.0
Even the sanitized, post-Giuliani version of Time Square sees some shit from time to time, as we quickly learn:
Q: What's the weirdest thing that ever happened? A: Oh, there was a knife fight. Q: Tell me everything. A: Two women. They came together.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619228.0
Q: Steak knives? Like the knives from the table or BYOK? A: From the table. So, it started out as a fist fight and the other manger pulled— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619278.0
them apart and put one in the elevator going down to the 1st floor. They were on the third floor. The 2nd woman broke away and ran down the— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619328.0
Stairs. She stopped the elevator on the 2nd floor and grabbed a knife off someone's table. A: someone else's knife?! Q: yes— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619474.0
Q: So only one woman had a knife. A: The other woman picked up a knife off a different table. So the other manager, he was a huge guy, 6'6"— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619529.0
ran down there and pulled them apart again. They were on the first floor at this point. And he threw them out into the street. So they could— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619656.0
deal with it out there. Q: Did they still have the knives? A: No, he took them. Q: Did he give them breadsticks? A: What? No. Q: Sorry.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492619895.0
A: What happened after that? Q: I don't know. They were outside, so they weren't our problem anymore A: Would you say they're still "family"— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492621128.0
Was a multilevel knife fight worse than the time(s) they ran out of breadsticks?
A: No. Q: Wait. You said the shifts where you ran out of breadsticks were the worst. Worse than the shift with a knife fight?— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492622541.0
A: You may be surprised, but yes, Olive Garden running out of breadsticks is worse than a knife fight. Q: No, I totally get it.— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492622608.0
No. It was not. When people get their expectations set on free greasy bread, there’s little that will distract them.
Reader, I married him. 💐— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492622651.0
He didn’t really marry his date following this conversation.
@DannyLinhardt not there, not yet!— Joe Wadlington (@Joe Wadlington) 1492645953.0
But I think we all know where they should go for their next rendezvous.