The allure of the unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden has become the stuff of legend, with visions of warm, garlic-infused, perfectly crisp-on-the-outside, and soft-on-the-inside sticks of bread dancing in the minds of many. It's a dream for carb enthusiasts, but one that must be tempered with a slice of reality.
The truth is, you can't simply stroll into an Olive Garden, sit down, and declare, "I'll have the free, unlimited breadsticks only, please." They are only free with the purchase of a meal, and there are some backend rules and regulations that shape the famous perk. Some reports claim that waiters and waitresses aren't technically supposed to bring the first complimentary basket of breadsticks until an order is placed, while other tales from the Italian-inspired restaurant chain insist that staff are not allowed to deliver a second complimentary basket beyond the initial one until the table places an order.
There's also a formula to determine just how many breadsticks are included in the unlimited basket. The initial basket will typically contain one breadstick per guest, plus an extra, while any subsequent basket refills will contain just one breadstick per guest.
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If You're Planning A Carb Feast...
That being said, customers can certainly make a meal out of just the breadsticks if they're willing to pay for them. Olive Garden offers an order of six baked breadsticks for $4.49 or 12 for $6.79. So a customer could certainly head to their local Olive Garden, order a beverage and an order of breadsticks, and call it a night. Diners can also order unbaked sticks if they want to enjoy some Olive Garden goodness in the comfort of their own homes.
However, Olive Garden servers would much prefer you don't take up a table and their time just for the breadsticks. "If you plan for that to be your whole meal, I would advise you either take them to go and not take up a waiter's table or tip proportionate to the time you're there (if you're there for an hour, assume they could have made about $7-ish on another table)," a former Olive Garden employee weighed in on Quora.
If you are planning to dine in on just the breadsticks, it's best to let your server know that upfront. That way they won't drop off what they think is the complimentary basket of breadsticks and are then left wondering if you are going to order an entrée.
Unlimited Olive Garden Breadstick Horror Stories
Unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden (OG) may seem like a dream come true, but as with any popular perk, there are bound to be some stories of excess and out-of-control customers. A Reddit thread by former and current OG employees recounts some breadstick-associated horror stories.
One server recalls the time a table of women came in for lunch and went through seven or eight baskets of bread before the entrées even came out. A few minutes of watchful surveillance revealed that the customers were actually dumping the baked goods into their purses. A manager had to intervene and tell them to stop.
Another server reportedly had to involve the manager in order to cut off one particularly carb-loving family after the breadmaker couldn't keep up with the breadstick demand, which resulted in a profanity-laced tirade. "The dad lashes out at [the manager], saying how this is the worst establishment in the world, and that he'd get everyone in the restaurant fired because 'I know the district manager!'" the employee wrote.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.