Fact Check

Olive Garden Flag Ban

Olive Garden prohibits display of the U.S. flag?

Published Oct. 14, 2011


Claim:   Olive Garden policy prohibits display of the U.S. flag.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2011]

FROM A FRIEND::::"Just listening to talk show on WDNG this morning. I am appalled at what i am hearing. Mrs. Marty Warren (my teacher from Anniston High) a wonderful woman is telling about a Kiwanis meeting recently that was held at Olive Garden here in Oxford, where they were electing a new president. A tradition with this organization is to display the Kiwanis flag and also the American Flag and...... say the Pledge of...... Allegiance before the meeting. The manager of Olive Garden told them they could not display the American Flag. I am Appalled that a local eating establishment here in the United States would not allow our flag to be displayed. If we cannot fly our Flag in this establishment, then i will not be giving them my hard earned money. I hope everyone will repost this and not spend your money at this place. God Bless America"

Wayne Whittington
I didn't give my complete conversation with the manager for the Olive Garden. It would be too long. Someone asked if this was a local or corporate decision. I asked this question. The manager said it was a corporate decision. You can asked ...yourself this question. If you went into any other country and asked them to take down or not show their flag that it offended you do you think they would comply with your wish? I dare say they would display their flag and dare you to display yours. We somehow in this country have got to a place where some of us are ashamed of our birth rights and unable to display our pride for our country. Some people will at the drop of a hat fight you over a wrong call at a ball game but want defend or stand up for what is right when it comes to AMERICA and a way of life that is slowly being taken away from us. What is going on?

Kay Cassell
I've just been told that the CORPORATE also owns Longhorn and Red Lobster. Well, I just ate my VERY LAST "endless shrimp" last night. Will stick to Mickey D's or Krystal.


Origins:   On 4 October 2011, the Olive Garden in the east Alabama town of Oxford refused permission for the local Kiwanis group to display either the U.S. flag or the group's banner at its annual meeting, which was to be held in that restaurant. The service group planned to recite the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of its gathering, but this activity had to proceed flagless in light of Olive Garden's decision. Many of the Kiwanis present were veterans and were upset when told that there would be no flag.

Citing the lack of a private dining area in that particular establishment, company officials stated "To be fair to everyone and avoid disrupting the dining experience for all other guests, they're unable to accommodate flags or banners of any type in the dining room."

The meeting went on as scheduled, with 80-year-old Kiwanis member Marty Warren asking club members to close their eyes and picture the flag waving in the wind as they said the pledge of allegiance.

The parent firm of Olive Garden, Darden restaurants, also operates the Red Lobster and Longhorn chains.

Olive Garden has subsequently recanted that statement, saying employees of the company were confused and that there was no such policy regarding the American flag.

A media contact for the restaurant chain issued this apology via e-mail to the Anniston Star:

We are very sorry for any misunderstanding about this issue. We do not have a policy at Olive Garden concerning bringing the American flag into our restaurants. Some members of our team were misinformed about company policy by our corporate office. As a company we take responsibility for that and we regret it. We take pride in how we communicate to our restaurants and we are correcting this so it doesn’t happen again. Like all Americans we have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the American flag and everything it symbolizes, and we welcome anyone who wishes to bring the flag into our restaurants. In fact, we periodically provide American flag collar pins to our employees to wear while serving guests.

A senior vice-president of the restaurant chain has apologized to Marty Warren by telephone and will be apologizing in person
on 17 October 2011 to some of the members of that Kiwanis chapter. As part of that mea culpa, that official will be taking the group to lunch somewhere in Anniston. He will also speak to the entire club on 4 November 2011 at the Oxford Civic Center.

Barbara "olive branched" Mikkelson

Last updated:   14 October 2011


    Mathis, George.   "Olive Garden Apologizes for Not Allowing U.S. flag."

    Atlanta Journal and Constitution.   12 October 2011.

    McCreless, Patrick.   "Olive Garden VP to Personally Apologize to Oxford Kiwanis."

    Anniston Star.   13 October 2011.

    McCreless, Patrick.   "Oxford Olive Garden Caught in Flag Flap ."

    Anniston Star.   11 October 2011.

    Associated Press.   "Restaurant Firm Responds to Flag Policy Concerns."

    Miami Herald.   12 October 2011.

    CBS News.  "Olive Garden: American Flag Display Would Disrupt Dining Experience."

    12 October 2011.

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