Marti Warren, 80, wanted to bring an American flag into an Alabama Olive Garden for the Kiwanis Club award banquet last week. To her dismay, the restaurant refused to allow her to bring the flag inside. "I felt like I had been slapped in the face," Warren said.
Olive Garden has since apologized. The company vice president contacted Warren on Wednesday and plans to visit the Oxford, Alabama Golden K Kiwanis Club. Olive Garden issued the following statement on its Facebook page, which, as of this writing, has sparked over 700 comments:
We’ve had some questions about whether or not guests can bring the American flag into our restaurants. 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.
Many of the commenters were angry at the Olive Garden; several were even claiming to boycott the chain. On The Stir, Jeanne Sager is willing to give the company more benefit of the doubt. "Just because we all (should) love our flag doesn't mean it belongs everywhere you go." She continues:
The Alabama restaurant said this was an unfortunate side effect of a blanket policy put in effect to prevent just this sort of kerfuffle. The way they'd been told, NO flags or banners are allowed in restaurants unless they have a private meeting room -- the Calhoun County site doesn't -- and yes, that includes the American flag.
Warren claims that she was told her group would be in a banquet room, and resents that they were instead seated by the kitchen.
What do you think?