Servers who work at Olive Garden are typically fine with their work environment, but like in most serving jobs, the kind of day you have depends entirely on the type of customers you work with that day. Some are great, but others are completely ridiculous.
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The Food Was “Too Expensive”
“My significant other is a waitress, and she tells me something ridiculous nightly. My favorite story was from last week. A customer came in and complained (before she ordered) that the food was too expensive and wanted to know what the restaurant was going to do about it. She then proceeded to demand the manager because my significant other refused her request to give the customer her employee discount, and the staff HAD to accommodate her. The worst part is the management reprimanded my significant other for saying no to the customer’s request and comped the entire meal.”
After The Seventh Basket Of Bread Sticks, Management Became Suspicious
“I was working a lunch shift and had a table of three come in. All were women in their mid-30s. I brought out the initial bread basket, turned around for an instant, and they were gone. Okay, y’all were hungry, that’s normal. I brought a new basket out, and it happened again. I kept bringing baskets of bread; it had to be at least seven or eight baskets. At this point, we’re at about 30 breadsticks, and the food hadn’t even hit the table yet. I started watching and saw that they were putting the bread in their purses. Just filling ’em up. Manager asked them politely to stop, that was that. They weren’t thrilled.”
The Plate Definitely Didn’t Contain A Roach When He Dropped It Off
“I was serving a table of four one time and had already put their order in and brought their food out to their table. They called me back a minute later and told me there was a roach on the plate. They’d obviously placed it there themselves. They demanded to talk the manager because they were not going to pay for food that is unsanitary. I told my manager that there was no roach on the plate when I gave them their food, but he said that the customers come first and he was going to comp their meals anyway. I went back to the table to let them know, and they went on, telling me how disgusting it is, and they were never coming back. Then they asked me for a to-go box. I asked them why they would want food if it had a roach on it and is disgusting? They did not respond, and I took their plates and trashed it.”
The Things Servers Have To Put Up With Would Break Most People
“Once, I had a two-top, a man and a woman, who were both clearly on something. I greeted the table and got ‘Sprite,’ as a response from the woman. I asked the man what I could get him and he said, ‘Something I can shoot this bimbo with.’
-Another two-top, an older woman and younger woman. They were a hassle; I really can’t even remember why now. Things came to a head when they tried to hit my busser with a spoon. They chucked it at his head, but he ducked, and it hit the table across the room. The woman at that table promptly got up to fight them, screaming about how the spoon had almost hit her mother. I barricaded my table in their booth with my back, feeling the gentle sensation of spoon-thrower poking my spine in her efforts to get out to fight the other woman. Just then, another server walked by, wide-eyed. I looked at her (the other server) dumbfounded at her inaction and asked her to get a manager. Things were eventually resolved; predictably, the spoon-throwing table complained about their food, asked for it to be boxed, and then left the boxes.
-My coup-de-grace: when I caught the runners. It was a four or five top. I could tell they were going to try to run almost immediately after dropping the food. They hung around way too long; people from the table started peeling off and leaving, and every time I’d come around to check on them, they’d wave me away. I told the other servers I knew they were going to run, so we just stood at the computer terminals watching them. Finally, the two remaining girls threw down some money and tried to casually walk away. I crossed the space between the terminal and the table in two strides, saw that the money was short, and sprinted around another section to meet them at the door.
When I caught them at the front, I was calm and cool and said, ‘Hey ladies, it looks like we’re gonna need about ten more dollars.’ For more context, this was after hours of ‘food poisoning.’ On one trip back to check on the table, I asked the table, ‘How are we doing?’
One of the women’s response was, ‘I threw up.’
I said, ‘What?’
‘I threw up, in the bathroom. You can check if you want.’ It was a clear attempt to get her salad comped. So at the point when they ran, the check had already been reduced several-items-worth, and two of the girls had already left (interestingly, though, not the one who threw up).
The bolder of the two runners looked at me and said that the food that hadn’t been paid for wasn’t hers, so she wasn’t going to pay for it. I stayed calm and indicated the total at the bottom, along with their table number, ‘Well, see what I need is this number here, from your table, regardless of who pays. The restaurant doesn’t care how y’all divide it up.’
‘Well, that’s not my food, so I’m not paying.’
We went back and forth, back and forth, until finally, I lost my cool and shouted, ‘I DON’T CARE WHO PAYS FOR IT. I NEED THE NUMBER AT THE BOTTOM.’
That’s when my manager wandered over with the old, ‘What seems to be the problem over here?’
The bold girl turned to him and said, ‘He wants me to pay for food that isn’t mine!’ The manager suggested calling her friends who’d left back if was that much of an issue; ol’ girl said she doesn’t have a phone. I pointed at the phone in the restaurant, then she countered that she didn’t know the other girls’ numbers. I finally turned to the other girl (‘I threw up’), who’d been standing awkwardly and silently the whole time, and asked, ‘Do YOU have a phone?’ She nodded unhappily. ‘Great, you can call her.’
She called, explained the situation. Their girlfriend said she wasn’t coming back. They hung up. Wouldn’t you know it, exactly ten dollars and whatever cents was procured from the bold girl.”
There’s Something About Olive Garden That Makes Normally Sane People Crazy
“A guy I served at the Olive Garden in Greenville, South Carolina, ate his original never-ending bowl of pasta, plus 15 refills. He was a big dude, but more in the linebacker sense. He was determined to eat each one of each pasta and sauce combinations. He kept me wildly busy, running pasta and bread out to him all evening. His two friends had to help support him to walk out of the restaurant. At the time, a big bowl of pasta was eight ounces, and the refills were four ounces each. He ate more than four pounds of pasta, plus a LOT of sauce, and had the meat add-on on many of them, as well. I’m guessing he cleared more than six pounds of food over the course of that meal. He tipped $4.
On the other hand, I have been in a restaurant where we’ve run out of breadsticks. Normally, we were pretty free with the breadsticks. You have a set amount you’re supposed to bring out (number of guests at a table + 1), but a lot of servers just load up their tables at the beginning to minimize the amount of running they have to do. On the handful of days where we ran out, the managers were watching breadstick distributions like hawks. We could not eat any of them ourselves, either (normally it’s the one thing you can eat while on-shift).
Anyway, people lose their mind if they show up and find out we don’t have breadsticks. The hosts were warning EVERYONE who came through the door and people were still mad. Folks would yell at them, then leave. The few who stayed were nice but kept talking about how it didn’t feel like an OG meal without the breadsticks. The worst were the tables that were already seated when we ran out. I had one who kept asking me why I was so stingy and when I explained why I’d only brought out enough for each person instead of a huge load like she’d asked for, she screamed for the manager. The manager explained that she had, in fact, gotten the last basket of breadsticks in the restaurant. The lady looked apoplectic.
‘HOW THE EFF DOES AN OLIVE GARDEN RUN OUT OF BREADSTICKS?!’
Honestly, I feel you, lady, but it was two days after Mother’s Day, and the truck was due in three hours. The manager’s order had fallen short by less than 0.5 percent. She demanded that everything be comped. While my managers were normally the kind who would do this immediately, this one refused. Either way, I got $0 on that table, and most of the other tables were similarly cranky and low-tipping.”
She Had Excuse After Excuse About Why She Should Pay Less
“I once had a lady and her five friends come in for the dinner rush. They ordered their food, they ordered drinks, they ordered dessert, and then they stayed until closing, which was 11 p.m. But wait, there’s more! When they got their bill after closing, we stayed open till they were ready to leave. One lady snapped her fingers in the air until I came over. She then proceeded to yell at me, telling me she ordered the lunch entree size and refused to pay the dinner portion.
I told her that we stopped serving lunch every day at 2:30 p.m., so there was no way she could have ordered the lunch order. Confused, she started yelling at me loud enough for the owner to come over.
A little background, the owner of the restaurant is someone I consider a second mom. I’ve known their family for seven years and worked as the family’s nanny for three years.
The woman explained to the owner how she ALWAYS ordered the lunch portion during the dinner rush for nearly five YEARS! The owner took a second to chew on that, then pointed to the banner hanging at the door which marked the restaurant’s third year being open.
Embarrassed and even more confused, the lady told us she wouldn’t pay a dime for the ‘horrible dinner’ (which she ate all of) and our terrible service. Her five friends were nice and offered to pay for her, one of them even apologized for the scene. By now, all of our staff (the busboys, chefs, waiters, hostesses) were watching the scene unfold. After about 20 minutes of telling us that she wouldn’t pay us, she called her husband to come ‘have a talk with us that we would regret.’ Almost everyone working stayed to see what would happen.
Lo and behold, about 20 minutes later, this man in his late-40s, who looked like he just woke up, walked into the restaurant. He walked over to his wife and slammed a $100 bill on the table for her $40 tab. Then he grabbed her arm, apologized to her friends, the staff and the owner, before walking out while his wife had the face of utter defeat. Probably not the first time she’s acted like this.
Don’t be this lady.”
“Are You Going To Tell My Mother, On Mother’s Day, That She Can’t Eat?!”
“I was a server when I was 16 for Mother’s Day. We advertised for a month that it was a special, set menu with courses and reservations ONLY. We had it on the sign and the door.
Cue some guy walking in and seating himself with his mom. I, a 16-year-old girl with zero confrontation skills outside of high school drama, had to be the one to tell him he had to move, explaining that it was reservations only, etc.
He LOST it, screaming in my face, ‘Are you going to tell my mother, on Mother’s Day, that she can’t eat!?’ Something something, ‘Entitled teenagers with no life experience,’ something-something, ‘miserable little pissant.’
I decided that wasn’t okay and just looked towards the door and motioned home to leave. I couldn’t speak because I knew I was going to burst into tears if I opened my mouth at this point and everyone was staring. He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me! Screaming! I just froze in horror and couldn’t move or speak.
The dishwasher guys came out, and the customer ended up outside on the concrete. I don’t remember that part; I was frozen. About ten minutes later, I started sobbing uncontrollably, and my boss told me I had to use my break if this was going to take more than five minutes. I won’t go out to eat on Mother’s Day to this day. I come up with an excuse to pick up takeout, cook a meal, or move dinner. But even as a patron I hate Mother’s Day at restaurants.”
The Lack Of Dressing On A Caesar Salad Led To Police Intervention
“One slow night, a family of four came in (mom, dad, and teenage son and daughter) and ordered dinner. One of them, I’m not sure which, ordered a Caesar salad. Somehow we had run out of Caesar salad dressing, and the server was not informed until after he’d already brought the un-caesared salad to the table (a slight oversight of the server, but nothing major). Rather than saying anything to their server, the family waited an hour before loudly complaining to management that nobody brought any dressing out. The mother made sure that the entire restaurant could hear her, including the chef who decided to make a batch of dressing for the sole purpose of shutting this woman up.
Less than ten minutes later, the cops arrived because, unbeknownst to us, the mother had called the cops on us. Her reason why? We were giving the customer ‘attitude.’ The cops talked to the parents and management outside. The two teenage siblings were left at the table, embarrassed to the point that their faces were beet red, for over an hour. Eventually, I realized that the parents had left (though they were still in the area), but the teens didn’t know what to do, so they just sat there, waiting until the parents came back, which took another 45 minutes. The mother refused to even be on the same side of the street as us. After they left, both the salad and dressing were untouched.”
This Couple Had A Breadstick Breakdown Of Epic Proportions
“Oh boy! Finally, my time as an Olive Garden slave is useful for something!
I had a couple on a date who loved the breadsticks. Every time I walked by, they would ask for more. So the rule with refills is you are only supposed to give one breadstick per person, with one extra. I gave them five at a time when I should have only given them three, but man, these two went through about 12 breadsticks each! Since those things are basically 60 percent margarine, 39 percent salt, and 1 percent bread, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got sick. I’m no doctor, but for health reasons, they should have been cut off.
Servers have to prepare the breadsticks themselves, so most of the time no one has the time for that when each table wants to have a 10-minute discussion each time you come to their table and want refills on their fifth bowl of salad (which servers also have to prepare). As you can imagine, no one prepared any more breadsticks, and I was left breadstick-less with these breadsticks junkies. Oh man, did they not like this. They complained to my manager that they were being denied breadsticks. I explained to the manager that I never denied them anything and that we just had to prepare more, which is what I told them! My manager went back to talk with them, more yelling ensued from the breadstick junkies and, of course, they got a discount.
They ended up tipping absolute crap and requested more breadsticks to go. I gave them one so they could fight over it in the car home and hopefully get into an accident just bad enough that they won’t be able to eat breadsticks again.”
What A Way To Go
“I was hosting at the time when an elderly man came in with quite a few family members for his 90-something birthday. There were about ten of them, and he sat at the head of the table. He ordered an old fashion to drink, which was clearly more than that brittle body had seen in a while. Well, the food started rolling out, and he had this great smile on his face. I assumed the smile was from just being with all his family members. About 20 minutes into him being there, I noticed he had lost a lot of color.
The daughter sitting next to him just noticed.
We called an ambulance.
When the paramedics arrived, it was awkward. They didn’t even attempt to resuscitate him, but it’s not like they were going to zip him up in a body bag with 50 other guests still sucking down Italian-style food in the same room. The other guests in the Bianco dining room didn’t skip a beat. They just kept eating. The whole family was crying now, but I swear the old man still had a smile on his face as they carted him out on the stretcher. I still think, to this day, what an epic way to go. One last drink surrounded by your family at an Olive Garden.”
The “Service Dog” Definitely Didn’t Act Like One
“On New Year’s Eve, we were swamped. There was a one and a half hour wait, and some of the servers scheduled called out ‘sick.’ I was one of the four bussers on the clock. In my section, there was a four-top with a ‘service dog.’ I say ‘service dog’ because it DID NOT calm down. It was on a very short leash, but it was fidgety, barking at servers, etc. It was a big dog, too. I don’t remember the breed, but it was dark grey and very built-looking. I was in their section, but it didn’t bother me at first because I was focused on clearing tables. At that point, I’d been working for about a month, so I developed a cadence and was on auto-pilot.
The family with the dog comprised of two fat parents, a fat boy, and a skinny girl. The girl was the one with the leash. She was really quiet compared to the other three and kept glancing over at my direction. I felt bad for her but kept my focus on clearing tables quickly.
After 30 minutes and five orders of breadsticks, we just couldn’t keep up with this family’s demand anymore. We were a full restaurant, AND because our breadmaker walked out in tears due to an ‘episode.’ She was working a double and was expected to open AND close, so in hindsight, I can’t blame her.
But anyway, one of my managers came out and told them that we couldn’t serve them any more breadsticks. Then the dad lashed out at him, saying how that this was the worst establishment in the world and that he’d get everyone in the restaurant fired because ‘I know the district manager!’ At this point, they had attracted my attention, and I decided to bus tables closer to them because it was kind of entertaining. I think the girl noticed this because she started shaking her head at me, but I just couldn’t resist listening in on some good old guest-manager drama.
Our manager apologized again but just kept getting cussed out. I’m pretty sure he was called every name in the book. He decided to give up and offered free desserts to get them to shut up. Of course, they happily accepted the offer.
So there I was, bussing the table next to this family, back faced towards them (this is important) and my manager came out with four cakes. As my manager came to their table, I simultaneously lifted my tray onto my shoulder, but I loaded it wrong, so I stumbled backward and stepped on the dog’s tail.
Then the dog bit down hard on my ankle. And at the top of my lungs, I yelled, ‘HOLY EFFING CRAP,’ and fell back first onto their table.
It gets worse.
My manager then tripped over the dog’s leash because mind you, this all happened in a span of like three seconds.
So he faceplanted, and all the cakes fell onto the floor, and what do you know, the dog went Cujo on them.
The whole time, I just laid on my back, totally humiliated.”
They Never Looked At Alfredo Sauce The Same After That
“I worked at Olive Garden years ago.
I had a middle-aged, overweight woman always order a PINT OF ALFREDO sauce as soon as she sat down. They sell it in quantities like that for takeout orders, and she would slop it down with about six breadsticks before she ordered appetizers.
We’re talking 2,000 calories before appetizers and dinner. I still remember her ordering, and her mouth opening and closing like a gooey heavy-cream pit.”