Olive Garden's Beloved Unlimited Salad Is Specifically Made For Each Table

When you're craving a bowl of creamy pasta with a side of limitless breadsticks, it's time to visit Olive Garden. The Americanized Italian restaurant chain is famous for its all-you-can-eat soup, salad, and breadsticks promotion. According to the company's website, as long as you're dining in and are ready to enjoy refills of either soup or salad, you can technically enjoy as much as you can possibly eat in one sitting. But can anything truly be "unlimited" without a catch, even at Olive Garden? The answer is yes ... and no.

In a BuzzFeed Community forum, former Olive Garden employees shared secrets from their time at the restaurant. One response confirmed that the salads really are unlimited, and customers take that promise to the extreme: "I once brought a table their salad, only to have the person dump the ENTIRE bowl on their plate so they could hand me [the] empty salad bowl back and ask for another one before I left the table."

If you order an unlimited salad, it will be prepared especially for you. Sadly, it's not because of Olive Garden's well-known philosophy, "When you're here, you're family." Employees have very specific instructions regarding how they must prepare salads for each table. The weight of your salad and the amount of toppings you get depend on how many people are in your group.

If you want more salad toppings, you'll have to bring more people

Olive Garden's salads are prepared fresh in-house, and each one will look a little different. One commenter in the Buzzfeed Community forum revealed, "The number of olives, tomatoes, etc. on your salad is directly impacted by the amount of people at your table." If you were hoping for a mountain of black olives or a whole handful of red onions and croutons mixed into your green salad, you might want to consider inviting a few more friends to help you tackle the unlimited meal. Olive Garden's system also dictates the weight of each salad depending on the party size, as well as the number of breadsticks patrons receive — employees are required to provide one per person per refill.

Technically, you're allowed to stay as long as you want during Olive Garden's business hours, as long as you're actively consuming food. In a Reddit thread, former employees confirmed that there's no actual cut-off point when it comes to enjoying the restaurant's never-ending meal options. However, employees do reserve the right to deny service if a customer is being disrespectful or impatient while servers are constantly refilling their salad bowls and bread baskets.

The only limit to Olive Garden's unending offerings is your own

Rumors circulate from time to time that Olive Garden will cut off patrons after a certain amount of refills on things like salad, soup, or even pasta, but there's good news for extra-hungry Olive Garden patrons: You really can eat as much as you want, as long as you can handle it. However, the unlimited menu options are many employees' least favorite to serve. The amount of refilling is reportedly exhausting, not to mention the fact that the bill for these meals usually runs so low that servers aren't tipped sufficiently after running back and forth to replenish countless bowls of soup and salad.

If you're craving the restaurant's garden salad but don't want to put servers through the hassle of constantly refilling your bowl, (or you don't want to be judged for just how many times you request another round) you can try recreating Olive Garden's salad at home. Anyone hoping to do so simply has to start with a base of chopped iceberg lettuce, then add tomatoes, sliced black olives, pepperoncini, and onions. They should then top it off with a bottle of store-bought Olive Garden dressing (or their own Italian vinaigrette) and sprinkle as many croutons and as much parmesan as their heart desires. The beauty of making the iconic salad at home? You can add as many toppings as you want, no matter who else is joining you for dinner.