10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Garden from 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Garden

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Garden

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Garden

For many Americans, the first taste of “Italian” food they ever had was courtesy of their local Olive Garden. The chain, with its unlimited salad and breadsticks, is ubiquitous across America, and is constantly reinventing itself in an attempt to stay atop the charts. But even if you were one of the thousand people who purchased a Never Ending Pasta Pass last year (see below), we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about this chain. 

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Garden

Sales were strong from nearly the day that the first Olive Garden opened. Every new location was a relatively instant success as well, and sales soon matched that of the then-sister company Red Lobster.

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Darden Was a General Mills Spinoff

Parent company Darden, which also owns chains like LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and The Capital Grille, was originally the restaurants arm of General Mills. All General Mills restaurant holdings were spun off into a stand-alone company in 1995, named Darden after Bill Darden, the founder of Red Lobster (which was itself sold off in July 2014).

Photo modified: Flickr/ Krista/ CC4.0

The Company Served 13 Million Bowls of Pasta During Its “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” Promotion

The promotion, which launched in the fall of 2013, gave customers the opportunity to eat all the pasta they wanted, choosing from six pastas and six sauces, for $9.99. 

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The Restaurants Are Modeled After a Farmhouse in Chianti

If the rustic stone façade of the restaurants reminds you of Tuscany, that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. Restaurants are modeled after a farmhouse in the town of Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany. 

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The Peruvian Location Is Named Olive Italian Restaurant

For some reason they decided to forego “Garden” at the Lima location. There are also five restaurants in Mexico, one in Kuwait, and another in the São Paulo airport in Brazil. 

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You Can Order Off the Lunch Menu at Any Time

Even if it’s dinner time, if you ask for a lunch menu (which is generally less expensive than the dinner menu), they’ll let you order from it. 

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Olive Garden Caters

There’s an expansive catering menu of family-style classics that you can pick up. 

Olive Garden

You’ll Get a Birthday Present if You Sign Up for the eClub

If you include your birth date when you sign up for Olive Garden’s eClub, you’ll receive an email with a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert a few days before your birthday every year. 

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You Can Buy the Salad Dressing

Fan of Olive Garden’s Italian dressing? Just ask for a bottle to take home the next time you’re there and your server will sell one to you. 

Olive Garden

You Can Ask Olive Garden for a Donation

Well, not a personal donation, but if you’re championing a charitable cause that benefits the community, you can submit a donation request (on the organization’s official letterhead) to the general manager of your local Olive Garden, making sure to include when the donation is needed and how it will benefit your community. A donation to your personal Hunger Relief Fund most likely won’t be granted. 

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Garden

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