Former Customers Explain Why They’re Never Going Back to Olive Garden

Chain restaurants used to dominate our dine-out culture. They were reliable, you always had a favorite off of the relatively consistent menu, and you could usually find one on the go. Olive Garden, the Italian-style eatery that promised free breadsticks and endless salad, was a fan favorite.

The Olive Garden Sign is on the rock exterior of the building

How did Olive Garden go from beloved Italian chain to a customer flop? | ljhimages/iStock/Getty Images

A Reddit thread revealed how former Olive Garden customers feel about the chain — and why they aren’t going back anytime soon. When asked “Why do people think Olive Garden is a terrible restaurant?” one user made it clear the food was to blame, saying, “Usually people only think that if they’ve eaten there.” Ouch.

Other former customers went more in-depth about their distaste for the Italian chain, including one story that revealed X.

They found the food “bland” and “mediocre”

A few users explained that when you go to a non-chain Italian restaurant you’re faced with two potential outcomes: the food is incredible or terrible. They found Olive Garden’s food to be “predictable,” and while it wasn’t for them, deemed that as why some people return to the chain.

“If I am going to shell out money to go to a restaurant, I would rather pick something more interesting at that price point. Otherwise, I feel like I could make something better at home for much cheaper or, if feeling lazy and cheap, I can grab some fast food for much cheaper. Restaurants like the Olive Garden just fit into an awkward spot in the price-value equation for me,” a former customer said.

Another user kept things simple with this comparison: “Olive Garden is Italian cuisine the way American cheese is cheese.”

Others focused on the fact it’s frozen

Customers hinted at one of their main issues with the chain — that they’re paying “astronomical” prices for essentially frozen foods. “… the food is cooked elsewhere (industrially) and warmed in a microwave before being brought to your table,” one user revealed. Another called it the “same class” as Applebee’s, telling potential diners that they needed to “go in knowing that you’re paying for at least one thing on your plate to be microwaved from a frozen container.”

An anonymous line-cook from Olive Garden settled the debate once and for all.  “Literally, almost everything is frozen,” they revealed on Reddit. “The only things that [aren’t] are vegetables, that’s about it. we thaw it out and make little packs of things that go into a dish. Ex. Chicken Flatbread. A small baggie that has the chicken, peppers, and seasoning.”

Critics ripped the restaurant apart

Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo

Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo | Olivegarden.com

 A critical inspection of why the restaurant’s sales were falling a few years ago revealed numerous reasons why customers aren’t going back for more of the Americanized Italian chain.

Critics labeled the infamous bottomless breadsticks “similar to hot dog buns,” and dissed the chicken-topped veggie lasagna. “If you wanted meat on your lasagna, you would order the meat lasagna,” one said.

They called the crispy Parmesan asparagus “anything but,” and seriously criticized the pasta itself, which makes up the majority of the chain’s menu. “Shockingly, Olive Garden no longer salts the water it uses to boil the pasta, merely to get a longer warranty on its pots,” resulting in “a mushy, unappealing product.”

Critics’ conclusions somewhat aligned with customers’ complaints: the chain just isn’t Italian enough. Take, for example, the fried lasagna bites and “Italiano burger.”

“Because nothing says Italian cuisine like a sandwich named after a German city,” the Daily Show tweeted.

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