The Olive Garden in Times Square holds a special place in the chain restaurant kingdom. New Yorkers avoid it like a pothole filled with bees, but tourists seemingly can’t resist the allure of unlimited salad and breadsticks, with a bonus view of the neon madness churning directly outside on 47th Street. Earlier this year, the world learned some of this restaurant’s dark secrets from the mouth of a longtime employee, and now, Redditors are sharing their stories from this bi-level minestrone mill. Here are some of the best responses from the thread “Redditors who have eaten at the Times Square Olive Garden, why?”
One diner had a very practical reason to visit Olive Garden:
Went to college in NYC during Hurricane Sandy. With the power out for a few days after, my roommates and I went out looking for food and electricity (Midtown still had power). We convinced ourselves that the Times Square Olive Garden was a better option than fighting for outlets in an ATM vestibule.
$25 for 4 hours of charging my phone, unlimited breadsticks, and drinks. Marginally worth it. 3/5 would do it again next hurricane.
NYE 2008 tickets. Me and SO were in NY for a week. Obviously wanted to see the ball drop bit didn't want to spend an entire day freezing in the street sections. Got tickets to Olive Garden. The food was fine and there was an open bar of top shelf spirits.
Here’s an honest, level-headed answer to the question at hand:
Tourist. Jet lagged. Hungry. Overexcited about being in NY. Slightly intimidated by the whole thing. Really hungry.
This is not an explanation of why this person visited the restaurant, per se, but it’s a funny story none-the-less:
Friend’s birthday. I ordered the chicken alfredo. I shit you fucking not they brought me plain noodles. When I asked where the chicken and cheese was they said it was coming????? 10 minutes later they brought me chicken. Still no cheese. To this day I have not received it
One Redditor’s pal recommends the OG for having tough conversations:
I have a buddy who goes there when he is breaking up with someone. He doesn't want to ruin any other restaurants.
Do people usually break up at restaurants? Do you break up at the beginning and eat awkwardly or wait until the end? Seems like the type of thing you should just do quick and get it over with.
And now, a heartwarming story, from one of New York’s finest:
Police Officer, former NYPD here.....for weeks after September 11 The Olive Garden was ONLY open to members of the NYPD, FDNY, EMS, Con-Ed and construction crews working at Ground Zero.
The full menu was available, for free, no charge. We tried to tip the wait staff, they wouldn’t accept it. Honestly it was fucking amazing. You would be working 12, 14, 18 hour shifts and you could go here, eat and relax. Ill never forget the hospitality we received....Unfortunately, for that same reason, I have never been able to return...
I tried once. Walked in with the family. looked around and couldn’t get the sight of Fireman, Cops and construction works from Ground Zero all sitting around with our heads down. As great of an experience as it was, there will always be an overwhelming connection of sadness attached to it.
If you worked there during that time, and you happen to be reading this, really from the bottom of my heart, Thank You.
And finally, at least one person out there thought that the Olive Garden only existed in Times Square:
I know this guy who gloats about how he is "mr.sophisticated.” So I was on a biz-ness trip with him to Louisiana and we saw an olive garden. His jaw dropped and he proclaimed "The only other Olive Garden I've been too is in Time Square New York City!" And he made us go there thinking it was the only other olive garden in existence.