“The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again.”

George Miller

We’re in trouble. Hurricane Gonzolo is heading towards us and ISIS is gaining in territory.

The Ebola thing is getting scarier, what with suspected patients taking weekend flights to Cleveland.

Having Ebola is bad enough, but why make it worse by going to Cleveland? If I found out that I had Ebola, Cleveland would not pop into mind.

All of these things are keeping me awake, and now to make matters worse, word reaches me that Olive Garden is in trouble.


I can’t stand it. When my latest copy of the San Jose Mercury News came in the mail today featuring an article by Candice Choi, I learned that once-loyal customers and greedy stockholders are upset with the chain. People are complaining that the prices are going up, and to make matters worse, they’re cutting back on the breadsticks, and the ones they are getting are cold.

I haven’t seen any shortage in the breadstick baskets, and the ones served to she, who is the only one in my house who eats them, were very warm. I don’t eat anything white, including bread sticks, which by the way, used to come to Italian tables looking like real skinny sticks. Now they look like hot dog rolls.

Back in 1995, as you read in these pages, the chain, to keep loyal customers happy, began a promotional tack called The Never Ending Pasta Bowl, which was very successful. It immediately caught on with the general population. Last month, OG sold the passcard for $100 and guaranteed “never ending” pasta, including breadsticks, salad and soup, my personal favorite, for 49 days. According to their press release, they sold out in an hour and now the cards can be found on Ebay for hundreds of bucks more. I love this country.

As I say, I don’t eat pasta these days, which would account for my new sleek streamlined body. But I do have a weakness for Italian soup, and Olive Garden delivers terrific pasta fagioli and minestrone, and you can get seconds. So I tweeted Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden, encouraging them to promote The Never Ending Bowl of Soup. I have yet to hear back from them.

The problem doesn’t end there for Olive Garden. Now many regular customers are complaining that the food isn’t as good as it used to be. I don’t know who these folks are, because when I visit OG, the lobby and tables are full, and there is always a long waiting line on weekends. This is why she, who is always on top of these things, learned that we can call in when we’re on our way, thus insuring a quick seating. I promise you that this works.

Still the complaints from some snobs keep coming. “The noodles are too soft, the sauce not hot enough.” This reminds me of the old joke: “The food at this place is terrible, and they serve such small portions.”


This is not a promotional piece for Olive Garden, I wouldn’t be allowed to do that, especially by my nephew Mateo, a genuine Italian chef with two restaurants in Brooklyn where he cooks real Italian. But in an honest effort to to promote the general American economy, I think Olive Garden is getting an unfair hit.

I don’t know anyone at Darden Restaurants, but I do know several of the servers at the Olive Gardens in Augusta and Bangor. And as in most American eateries,they are hard working American men and women dependent on meager tips.

Many of the younger ones are working their way through college, putting the Never Ending Pasta Bowl on your tables.

I should say that I have one complaint. They only put two olives in their salads. In fairness, when I mentioned that the establishment is called OLIVE Garden, not SALAD Garden, the chef sent out a small bowl of 10 olives.

Now, that’s Italian.

J.P Devine is a Waterville writer.

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