Living Up To Its Reputation, Olive Garden Made Us Wait 20 Minutes To Sit In A Half-Empty Restaurant

Olive garden interiorBusiness InsiderOlive Garden wasn’t exactly packed.

Italian restaurant chain Olive Garden is fighting back against a wave of criticism from a brutal 294-page investor presentation that dropped last week.

When several Business Insider employees recently got lunch at a New York City Olive Garden, we noticed many of the reported problems.

To start, we were given an estimated wait time of five to 10 minutes for a table but actually had to wait 20 minutes — all while the restaurant was only half-empty. There were other parties waiting in the lobby as well.

Not only was this annoying but also it correlated with long wait times and “false waits” mentioned in the presentation. False waits are the practice of making customers wait longer than necessary to encourage them to buy drinks at the bar and make the restaurant seem busier than it is.

All told, our lunch visit to Olive Garden took about an hour and 20 minutes, which is a long time for a work lunch. If Olive Garden hopes to attract businesspeople for lunch, having long wait times could hurt their business.

Olive Garden sent us this statement in response to our questions about wait times and description of our lunch experience on Monday:

I’m sorry to hear about your experience today. That’s certainly not typical of the guest experience we aim to provide and it’s not consistent with our actions underway. … Since we began our focus on this issue over the past year, our false waits are now at historic lows and guest complaints regarding false waits are the lowest they have ever been.

Olive Garden issued a response to the massive investor takedown on Monday, defending itself against some of the criticisms.

Olive Garden redesignOlive Garden/Darden RestaurantsCouldn’t we have sat at some of these Olive Garden tables?

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.