Sunday, July 13, 2008

Where is my salad?

So Thursday night I took my wife out on a date. Mock me if you will, but the Olive Garden is my favorite Italian Restaurant. First of all because of the all you can eat salad and bread sticks, and second because I order the same thing every time and am never disappointed, Spaghetti with meatballs. We arrive at the Olive Garden in Folsom and get our table in a little over 5 minutes. Great. A minute or so later our waitress shows up and asks how we are. I say to her "We're great." But in my mind I'm saying "Why don't you have a bowl of Salad in one hand and a Parmesan grater in the other hand?" She takes our drink order and decides to come back with them after about 5 minutes...once again no Salad and bread sticks. Instead she asks for our order and I give it to her. Then she asks "Would you like to add a salad or bread sticks?" I respond, "No we'll just take the regular stuff that always comes." I am trying to be patient with the young lady so I am all the time thinking, why in the world would I pay for some other "special" salad when you are supposed to be filling me up right now with the free stuff?? She takes off.
Now we have been at our table for 15 minutes and not a trace of a breadstick, olive, or garden salad can be found.

It is now 20 minutes we've been seated and the girl appears from no where, drops some breadsticks on our table and says, "here's something for you while you wait." Like she is doing us some kind of favor! As if her manager found out she would get fired. Then not more than a minute later some kitchen guy brings out our food. Still no salad. I sit there, and stare at my food, refusing to eat until I get my warm-up salad on. But this is the type of waitress that you only see like flashes of gold in the pan, there one second, gone the next. I wait, like a duck hunter in the brush. Then I see her and call her over. I ask,

"Where is our salad? Did the policy change since we were here last?"

She responds, "We'll I've worked here for a year and a half and it has always been like this."

"Well the only reason we come here is the salad and breadsticks!"

"Oh you mean the free salad? You told me you didn't want salad."

"No, I told you I didn't want some fancy salad that you all sell, I asked for the regular old salad that you guys dispense by the ton."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I'll go get you one."

As she walks away, I was wondering, if she didn't know I was talking about the salad policy, what the heck was she thinking when she said she had worked here for a year and a half and it has always been like this.

So by this time it is like 7:30, and we've been seated for half an hour. But once again, like 5 minutes goes by and she still doesn't bring a salad. Some other employee passes our table and I tell him:

"Hey buddy, I have no idea where our server is, but can you just get me a bowl of salad?"

"Oh sure."

He walks away and I can hear him, but I can't see him, and a female voice tells him "Tell them I will be right with them. A minute later, Janay was talking a phone call outside, and the manager walks up to me and says:


I look up from my plate, "Hi", and we kind of just had this awkward stare at one another, because people don't usually walk up to me, say "Hi" and watch me eat. After a second, and realizing I'm not going to say anything, she says:

"So I understand you want to talk to me?"

"Ummmmm, no, I just want a bowl of salad."

"Oh, you didn't want to talk to me?"

Mental thought: Unless your hiding a bowl of salad behind your back, then no, I don't want to talk to you.

Actual Conversation: "No, I really just want a bowl of salad to go with my dinner."

"We'll have one right out for you."

Finally, about 5 minutes later, the elusive one, saunters over, with a grin that says "Everything's Fine! I'm the greatest server in the world, so cheery, so friendly, your wish is my every command" she plops the salad bowl on our table 40 minutes after we had sat down.

I eat one bowl, that's it, one. Because by this time I had metally and physically been broken by this Olive Garden waitress, given in and eaten most of my meal already before my salad. For me, 3 bowls of that salad is the norm, before my food even comes out!

If I weren't on a date with my wife, things would have gotten ugly, I would have gone Bakersfield Chimp in this place (true story but since I have to be on my best behavior with her, I kept things pretty cool.

Then, there was the check. We had a movie time to make, and the waitress had disappeared again, so I just put my credit card on the edge of the table. When she appears, she takes our plates, and leaves the credit card! I gave her 3 minutes to come back, or I was headed for the manager that likes to watch me eat. She made it just under the deadline. We paid and left. We made a pact that we will never eat at Olive Garden again, unless friends or family force us to, and we also will go with the understanding and expectation of receiving the worst service in the world.

Lest you think our decision was too hasty, I will recount our previous visits:

Previous Visit: Janay and I go on a Friday night, wait an hour an a half to be seated. Once seated, a black widow starts climbing in and out of the wall we are sitting next to. Rather than kill the spider, then simply scoot our table 2 feet down the wall.

Visit Before that: My family (6 adults, and 2 children ages 2 and 4(the children did not eat)) receive horrendous service, and when the bill comes they tack on the automatic 18% gratuity because we were a "party of 8".

Visit before that: Janay and I out with friends. I order the never ending pasta bowl. After my second bowl of pasta, my never ending pasta bowl ended. The waiter refused to give me more pasta, even though he had brought out 5 different bowls of pasta for my buddies wife who would take a bite and ask for something else, "because I want to try them all!"

So long Olive Garden. It was a love-hate relationship that has now, sadly, and like so many of these relationships, ended in divorce.


Amanda said...

Brandon and I agree with your decision!

Good bye Olive Garden!! Hello Macaroni Grill??

B&B said...

Personally I think they are WAY over-priced for what you get. I'm sorry your relationship had to end that way...

kristin said...

Wow! I haven't been to Olive Garden in a couple of years. Now I feel justified. I've heard from various people about their bad service experiences. Glad to hear that there's someone else besides my husband who demands good service. To Doug, if they don't refill his water glass without him asking, he tips lower. Even if he's got a soda! Glad you guys made it to the movie on time. That would've really chapped me if I'd have been late because of bad service!!

Rochelle said...

Olive Garden is my favorite restaurant too. We don't go often because of this same reason. I end up giving in because of cravings. I swear they would go out of business if the food wasn't good-including the salad and breadsticks.

Ryan said...

dude, OG is lame, good for's all about Jonny Carino's..

The Gainors said...

that's funny- jonathan absolutely hates OG. he has refused to eat there for years. i love the soup and breadsticks though, so i just get it to go. food for thought. no pun intended. ok the pun was intended.

Jill said...

Bro, drop the chain restaurant kick.

Find yourself some good Sac-to Italian (and if they don't have it, it's worth the wait until you get to SF and head to North Beach).

As for the waitress, I hope you left her a .25 cent tip, just to let her know "I remembered your tip and this is what you deserve."

Paul & Robyn Hollobaugh said...

Janay your husband is to funny! We love Applebees, but aren't returning for similar reasons. My hubby's favorite Italian was Olive Garden until I introduced him to Macaroni Grill. Its SOOO Yummy!

Melinda Jones said...

We will no longer go to Olive Garden either, just to show our support of your decision (that and there are no Olive Gardens in Greenwich). Anyway, we would LOVE LOVE LOVE to go to a Yankees game with you! Are you going to buy all of the tickets at once? If so, let us know how much we owe you. I can't wait to see you guys! Yippee!

Melinda Jones said...

One more know you really can't be that irritated with Olive Garden...their marketing slogan is "when you're here, you're family"...they just neglected to point out that the family you belong to when you have your seats is a dysfunctional, non-communicative, stingy, and slothful family.
Welcome home! ;)

Tbone said...

Ah, have finally realized what Ellen and I have realized for years now..Olive Garden, on its best night, when everyone does their job, and the cooks aren't high or intoxicated, is actually a pretty decent place to eat...but on a normal night, such as the one you experienced, OG is the biggest waste of time and money for a hungry man. You should have gone Bakersfield Chimp!

Tbone said...

Another thing, Dano,
I've been pimping Macaroni Grill since I first knew ye. No free salad, but the bread is scrumptilicious, the italian sodas creamy and smooth-sippin, and the Penne Rustica is always tasty.

Pamela said...

Janay, your husband makes me laugh! My friends had a bad Olive Garden experience in Michigan. It was before homecoming, and my date and I (with one other couple) were the only ones who didn't go to O.G. but we heard how the waitress dropped an entire glass of soda down the back of one of the girls dresses, food was all mixed up/cooked wrong, slow... it seems like there must be a trend of poor service.