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The Olive Garden just says no to H2O!
July 31, 2001 7:35 PM   Subscribe

The Olive Garden just says no to H2O! Water: it's necessary to sustain life, but it contributes to a dull dining experience.
posted by sassone (101 comments total)

 
Olive Garden restaurants [...] wanted their restaurant crews to emphasize the broad array of alternative beverage selections available, with the hope of reducing tap water incidence.

"Tap water incidence"? Criminy, it's water, not Three Mile Island.
posted by ChrisTN at 7:44 PM on July 31, 2001


If anybody can talk you into having something besides what you order, you deserve the extra excitement.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:45 PM on July 31, 2001


Every restaurant does this- "Can I get you started with some drinks? A margarita? Some appetizers? A sensual body massage?"

Yes, that's a bit of an exaggeration- some places don't have margaritas.
posted by dogwelder at 7:50 PM on July 31, 2001


...contributes to a dull dining experience for the customer.

Umm, it ain't the tap water. It's the iceberg lettuce salad, bread with no nutritional value, and an approach to Italian food that lacks any shred of authenticity. Boy they keep filling up my Coke glass, they've got Hospitaliano!
posted by machaus at 8:00 PM on July 31, 2001


In response, some restaurant chains are implementing
programs [...] with the goal of increasing overall guest satisfaction.


I don't get it. I assume that most understand that restaurants have arrays of beverages and that ordering water is a conscious decision. The restaurant pushing drinks that I don't want is supposed to make me more satisfied?
posted by reishus at 8:03 PM on July 31, 2001



"Because of it's own successful campaign against water, The Olive Gard® has recently sent a powerful message to the entire restaurant industry - less water"

This sounds like a war story. "And on the eastern front, General Olive Garden led the fifth division deep into enemy territory as Water Forces retreated in the face of crack Coca-Cola Commandos."
posted by Apoch at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2001


"...enhancing the customer's dining experience."

Feh. This is about getting more of your money out of your pocket, not serving you quality beverages. Other parts of the article state exactly that. If Coca Cola and the Olive Garden could serve you a refreshing glass of flouride for $1.75, they would.
posted by tomorama at 8:25 PM on July 31, 2001


Great link, sassone. It's all about spin, reishus. Restaurants make little profit off their food; it's beverages (especially alcoholic ones) where they bring in the money. What's the figure, like, $.02 cost per gallon of soft drink? They just add water to heavily-concentrated soft drink syrup, and some CO2.
posted by gramcracker at 8:28 PM on July 31, 2001


This is awesome. It's what corporations say to each other behind customers' backs, only it happens to be on the web where mortals can see it.

You think the Olive Garden is concerned with your happiness and that they try to make the best food and dining experience possible? No, they see you as a warm body that can be turned over and shaken until all the money falls out, while at the same time duping you into thinking you're having a good time.

Corporations talking to corporations, sharing little secrets about how they made more money off the stupid masses, to encourage other corporations of the same.
posted by mathowie at 8:31 PM on July 31, 2001


It's just a matter of time, I fear, until we have Dasani and Aquafina in restaurants alongside the soft drinks as the only water options... and we need to pay for 'em, too.
posted by hijinx at 8:40 PM on July 31, 2001


Besides the fact that "The Olive Garden" is to italian food what Chick Tracts are to Western Literature.
posted by Optamystic at 8:41 PM on July 31, 2001


There would appear to be an Olive Garden in Times Square. Seems like fertile territory for comedy, rage or social protest.
WTF is there an Olive Garden in NYC? And for that matter, why Domino's Pizza? And for bonus points, which is worse?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:52 PM on July 31, 2001


An NJ place I went to last month billed us for water that came in a *pitcher*. I am pretty sure we weren't getting Poland Springs or Aquafina.

They charged us for water *in addition to* the sodas we all ordered.
posted by tamim at 8:52 PM on July 31, 2001


It's just a matter of time, I fear, until we have Dasani and Aquafina in restaurants alongside the soft drinks as the only water options... and we need to pay for 'em, too.

Kind of like the way we could once take TV signals out of plain air, for free, back in the years BC (Before Cable).
posted by jeffbarr at 8:53 PM on July 31, 2001


Kind of like the way we could once take TV signals out of plain air, for free, back in the years BC (Before Cable).


You can still do that, can't you?
posted by gyc at 9:02 PM on July 31, 2001


All I have to say, after seeing one too many Olive Garden commercials:

If I was an elderly Italian man, and I was visiting my nephew and other family members in America, and they took me to the fucking Olive Garden, I'd break every bone in their bodies.

Did I mention that carbonated sodas actually increase thirst? :D

And doesn't this remind everyone else of a Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide page?
posted by solistrato at 9:07 PM on July 31, 2001


You can buy mineral water at Olive Garden (beverages menu):

San Pellegrino Sparkling Water

Panna Natural Spring Water

(Both from Perrier/Nestle)

Sorry, no Dasani.
posted by tomalak at 9:07 PM on July 31, 2001


Or they could just buy the chain like another sugar water company.
posted by tomalak at 9:16 PM on July 31, 2001


I was comptroller for the Hotel/Food/Bar department for a ski resort in California a while back, and when it first struck me that a large soda cost all of $.07, I nearly soiled myself. Little surprise in why the Olive Garden is waging war on water.
posted by silusGROK at 9:21 PM on July 31, 2001


Ah, but why not just shortcut the whole process? Make yourself a batch of fettucini alfredo and pour a nice tall one from your home soda fountain!
posted by apollo at 9:50 PM on July 31, 2001


Tap water desperately needs a good marketing campaign, like milk's. And perhaps some caramel color.

(I believe this link first surfaced at Cockeyed, source of much valuable research.)
posted by davidfg at 9:59 PM on July 31, 2001


Many customers choose tap water not because they enjoy it, but because it is what they always have drunk in the past. In response, ...

Isn't this the problem with marketing and capitalism, it'rarely about quality. The real agenda is always lurky in the background-make more money but spin it in a different way.

I've had all the free salad and bread sticks I care to, thank you.
posted by chrismc at 10:31 PM on July 31, 2001


Water does not the business of the restaurant sustain.

I'm a waiter and if I hear one more time, "C'mon Jeremy. Suggestive sell. Don't just ask 'Can I get you something to drink?'". Well, I guess I'll have heard "C'mon Jeremy. Suggestive sell. Don't just ask 'Can I get you something to drink?'" yet again. Corporate restaurants are like car lots only with the threat of food poisoning.

I went to this cheesy restaurant in Denver once, called the Odyssey Cafe and some little white boy who was our waiter came up and spoke Swahili and shit. Now that's going way too far.
posted by crasspastor at 10:45 PM on July 31, 2001


fuck. the world just keeps getting stupider and stupider. we are sacrificing our basic humanity at the altar of the almighty dollar.

well, this is what you get when you give up your essential humanity to become consumers.

let's watch ourselves slide into extinction. it's going to be a fun and scary ride.
posted by will at 10:45 PM on July 31, 2001


Oh please. There is nothing about one's "essential humanity" that one can lose by ordering anything off a menu at a restaurant. Unless maybe the food is made by slaves -- or of slaves.
posted by kindall at 10:56 PM on July 31, 2001


Bullshit kindall. This case is but a symptom of something so much larger. It's the commercialization of everything having to do with every one of our livelihoods, corporations deeming what's good for us determined by way of their quest for profit. Many people think it has everything to do with what ails humanity. That's what makes this link so noteworthy--that's why we're posting about it. It speaks above us as consumers as though we're leeches when wanting just a water with dinner instead of sugar water--almost in an attempt to hypnotize us, manipulate us like we're single celled organisms under the objective lens.
posted by crasspastor at 11:09 PM on July 31, 2001


Many people think it has everything to do with what ails humanity.

When "many people" believe something, my first impulse is to assume they're full of shit. This is, I hope you'll agree, a completely natural and "essentially human" impulse.

Given that people have been trying to get people to buy stuff they don't need for centuries -- and, yes, treating them like amoebas under a microscope, that's not new either -- I fail to see that the sky is suddenly falling just because they're getting a little better at it.
posted by kindall at 11:57 PM on July 31, 2001


When "many people" believe something, my first impulse is to assume they're full of shit.

In the case of this issue, *most* people believe nothing, have no opinion about the infusion of separating people from their money at all costs by service and retail conglomerates. In fact, most people don't even look at it as such. It's just life. Life without Coca Cola? Life without the quintessential old fashioned cursive Coca Cola font decorating most everything, at least some-thing in virtually every restaurant, hazarding a guess, worldwide? Now that'd be wierd.
posted by crasspastor at 12:13 AM on August 1, 2001


I've never eaten at a Olive Garden before, and now thanks to this, I never will.
posted by Hackworth at 12:48 AM on August 1, 2001


I'd like to break the fingers of the marketroid who wrote that copy.

Many customers choose tap water not because they enjoy it, but because it is what they always have drunk in the past.

Um, no, it's because they know that the response when you ask for tap water is a pretty good indication of whether it's a half-decent restaurant. The idea that "enhancing the customer's dining experience" means "emptying the customer's wallet" just makes me think of people who need to be bludgeoned with MBA textbooks.

(It's a legal requirement to provide tap water free of charge in British restaurants and pubs. And it's one of the things I always requested at the start of a meal, when doing restaurant reviews a couple of years ago.)

Oh, can I tell you about the "mineral water" deal that my college runs? They have a filtering and carbonating machine, and a few dozen stopper-topped bottles, and so can produce "natural mineral water", on tap (as it were) to witless guests.
posted by holgate at 1:46 AM on August 1, 2001


Heavens to marketroid!
posted by crasspastor at 1:56 AM on August 1, 2001


Holgate's right. I waitressed, and got the upselling shtick, too, but if people are there to enjoy a half-decent meal, bring them some freaken water, even if they don't ask for it. A nice pitcher, throw in a couple of lemon slices. Any good waiter/ress knows that the more enjoyable you make the whole event, the more likely people are to order and tip more.
Tsk. When will "marketroids" learn to talk to the front lines?
posted by spandex at 2:02 AM on August 1, 2001


That site is horrible! Fish around on it to see what I mean, Did you know there was a National Restaurant Educational Foundation?
posted by crasspastor at 2:38 AM on August 1, 2001


Gee whiz. The Natioanl Restaurant Educational Foundation's logo and cause seemed so much worse here than their actual page lets on.
posted by crasspastor at 2:51 AM on August 1, 2001


When I got my first job bagging groceries at Safeway, I had to watch a training film by the same kind of people who hate tap water. The film hammered the idea that you should say "Thanks for shopping Safeway!" to every customer after carrying their groceries. So I did two or three times, before recognizing that it was making all the customers laugh at me for being such a stooge.
posted by rcade at 4:18 AM on August 1, 2001


Is it an urban legand that tap water has to be free in the UK? It's always been if I've asked for it specifically (otherwise you get an Evian-alike). This is a good thing I think.
posted by nedrichards at 5:31 AM on August 1, 2001


On no account will a Commie ever drink water, and not without good reason...

Water is the source of all life. Seven-tenths of this earth's surface is water. Why, do you realize that seventy percent of you is water? And as human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids.

I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
posted by dogmatic at 6:19 AM on August 1, 2001


The program was called H2NO?

You have got to be kidding me. Was I the only one looking for this graphic somewhere on the page:



More seriously though, Coke has had a long standing battle against tap water. Check out the scary statistic at the bottom about Coke in Vietnam.
posted by thewittyname at 6:36 AM on August 1, 2001


With respect to the Olive Garden and their ilk, I think Butthead summed it up best: "If nobody likes stuff that sucks, why does so much stuff suck?"
posted by whuppy at 6:40 AM on August 1, 2001


Has anyone ever been to the World of Coca- Cola in Atlanta? One of the most horrifying places on the face of the earth, particularly the video to which you are subjected, which pretty much provides visual accompaniment to the creepy statistics in thewittyname's link.
posted by matt8313 at 7:12 AM on August 1, 2001


I am well aware that no one at Olive Garden, especially at the corporate level, cares about me, my "basic humanity," or even really whether I have a pleasurable dining experience. You know what? I don't care. I don't need an emotional connection with everyone and everything I come in contact with.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:25 AM on August 1, 2001


This is the single most offensive link I have yet seen posted on Metafilter.
posted by rushmc at 7:29 AM on August 1, 2001


i can't believe no one has quoted the name of the new campaign (this is when i also started looking for the Onion logo):

H2NO

that is the funniest thing i've read all week.
posted by gwint at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2001


This is a bit tangential, but check out what he's handing the poor kid. Yeah, that'll make it all better.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:40 AM on August 1, 2001


Excellent link, Stavros.

"I know you're stuck hanging upside down in a broken rollercoaster in the blistering heat, so I brought you this anxiety-producing, dehydrating soda!"

geesh.
posted by preguicoso at 8:16 AM on August 1, 2001


Stavros, preguicoso: you do realize that the man has a cup that just says Pepsi on the outside. It could very well have the,according to the article, dredded tap water in it.
posted by srw12 at 8:25 AM on August 1, 2001


You folks should try to track down a copy of Restaurant News (the Billboard of the cheesy chain restaurant industry)... if this H2NO thing incenses you, you should see some of the things in there -- teflon coatings for french fries to make them crispier, etc. It's truly frightening.

And just for the record, EVERY restaurant (even little hipster dens in the East Village) teach their waiters to Up-Sell. That's how restaurants work. You order a vodka gimlet, they ask you if you want Belvedere or Stoli. Keep in mind that waiters get paid measly salaries, and a higher bill total generally means a higher tip, which is all that keeps them alive...
posted by bcwinters at 8:26 AM on August 1, 2001


It's just a matter of time, I fear, until we have Dasani and Aquafina in restaurants alongside the soft drinks as the only water options... and we need to pay for 'em, too.

Twas my experience all over Europe, and Japan. If you ask for water in a restaurant, you get a bottle and a charge on your bill. Sip slowly, it's costing you.
posted by Dreama at 8:29 AM on August 1, 2001


"Stavros, preguicoso: you do realize that the man has a cup that just says Pepsi on the outside."

Um...unless amusement parks have cups made out of aluminum now, that looks like a can to me. Granted, it's a little fuzzy, but there appears to be an unpainted band around the top, and the way the light reflects off it is rather metallic.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:45 AM on August 1, 2001


Automatically giving a customer water when he or she sat down at a restaurant used to be the norm. But during the droughts in California, a while back, the practice ceased "for the common good" (i.e. to conserve H20). Sometimes I still have to ask and I don't even live in California anymore.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 8:47 AM on August 1, 2001


"Stavros, preguicoso: you do realize that the man has a cup that just says Pepsi on the outside."

Um...unless amusement parks have cups made out of aluminum now, that looks like a can to me. Granted, it's a little fuzzy, but there appears to be an unpainted band around the top, and the way the light reflects off it is rather metallic.


No way - that is definitely a wax paper cup. If it were only a 12 oz aluminum can, he would be able to wrap his whole hand around it. Take a look at the photo again.

As for the rest of you, if you don't like it that Olive Garden doesn't serve water for free anymore, don't fucking go there. This isn't rocket science, people. You don't have a constitutional right to a glass of free water.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:09 AM on August 1, 2001


Um...unless amusement parks have cups made out of aluminum now, that looks like a can to me. Granted, it's a little fuzzy, but there appears to be an unpainted band around the top, and the way the light reflects off it is rather metallic.

I don't want to debate a picture forever, but I guess I started it... I don't see any light reflecting off the object. All I see is the white Pepsi label in contrast to the blue and other colors. and if you look at cups like that, there's a white band at the top which, incidently would be and is in this picture a little wider than the rest of the cylinder.

... hmm, that's my second post about a picture. Sorry for the anal spell I think I'm over it now :)
posted by srw12 at 9:20 AM on August 1, 2001


It's a cup. A can is too small to be gripped in that manner.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:22 AM on August 1, 2001


There would appear to be an Olive Garden in Times Square

And Time Out NY ran a funny article related to this (which I can't find on their website, but I have the issue sitting in a pile at home)-- a Day as a typical Tourist (or something like that) where the author did the most typically middle-american-unhip things (ie waving a "hi mom" sign outside the Today show, going to see Cats (or its equivalent), etc, finishing up with an authentic Italian dinner... at the Olive Garden. But, there was a 45 minute wait. For the Olive Garden. In New York City.
posted by andrewraff at 9:56 AM on August 1, 2001


For the nit-picking record, I vote can. And I prefer Pepsi to Coke. And I am looking for the closest Olive Garden so I can go in and ask for lots o' tap water and bread and butter, just to stick it to the Coke-pushing Commies!
posted by msacheson at 10:06 AM on August 1, 2001


the author did the most typically middle-american-unhip things

Sounds like this book, which introduced me to names such as "John Tesh" and Branson, MO, which I can only imagine are forms of punishment.
posted by holgate at 10:34 AM on August 1, 2001


Optamystic: that comment made my day. consider a beer, nay even a WATER purchased for you.

And regarding a lack of a constitutional right to a glass of free water, you're right there, Lj. But any civilized restaurant will provide water for cleansing the palate without being asked. The OG just aint civilized, it's for suburban philistines that are too frightened to have anything close to a nonmultinational dining experience.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:34 AM on August 1, 2001


Again Mefi brings up "the corporation bugaboo". Corporations are groups of people, humans like you and me. Do you really think Mom & Pop aren't interested in separating you from your hard earned money too? Reminds me of the "Mom & Pop" Seinfeld I just saw again... And I like Olive Garden, too!
posted by owillis at 11:04 AM on August 1, 2001


At one time it was "unlawful to refuse a person a glass of water" in Arizona (don't know if it is still so). I think you can go into any Circle-K or fast food joint here and get a glass of water. I have seen kids stop at the Del Taco, ask for a water glass, get their water (not buy anything), and continue on their trek to the city bus line. Nobody at Del Taco seems to mind. Perhaps they are more civilized than the folks at Olive Garden.
posted by eckeric at 11:10 AM on August 1, 2001


Nothing like a good MeFi thread to throw me bassackwards into a tailspin of knee-jerk reactionary reversal of thought.

Jesus H. Christ you young white Internet professionals can be elitist as hell.

Yeah, the common denominator sucks. But it's embarassing to read line after line of text about how much better your taste is than everyone else's. Give it a rest, people.
posted by glenwood at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2001


owillis, Mom & Pop's don't have huge websites read by other Mom & Pop's, where they disseminate their stories of how to get more money from customers.

If there were such sites, I would find those disturbing as well. But my distaste with the tone in the linked story isn't simply about corporations. It's how far they've gotten from what they set out to do. At one time, it was about selling food and beverages to people, but this article describes insidious practices where customers are devoid of any free choice, and treated like cattle on a factory farm.

The article says "Here's how to systematically increase profits by decreasing evil, free water consumption in the species homo sapiens" and deems the project a success, while using terms like "customer satisfaction" when it doesn't sound like customers got what they wanted, they got what the restaurant wanted to sell them.


Yeah, the common denominator sucks. But it's embarrassing to read line after line of text about how much better your taste is than everyone else's. Give it a rest, people.

As someone with a 100% italian mother and grandparents, I couldn't believe my tastebuds when I set foot in an olive garden for the first time. That stuff is about as close to Italian food as a Weinerschnitzel fast food hot dog is an accurate picture of German cuisine.
posted by mathowie at 11:21 AM on August 1, 2001


it doesn't sound like customers got what they wanted, they got what the restaurant wanted to sell them.

Those two wants are not mutually exclusive. Customers got what they wanted buy purchasing it from the restaurant. The Olive Garden can't simply force it's products on unwilling consumers - if the consumer is dissatisfied with what they get at Olive Garden (including the lack of free water), they will go elsewhere. It is unreasonable to suggest that the customer has no free choice when they always have the ultimate free choice of not patronizing The Olive Garden at all.
posted by ljromanoff at 11:27 AM on August 1, 2001


Jesus H. Christ you young white Internet professionals can be elitist as hell. Yeah, the common denominator sucks. But it's embarassing to read line after line of text about how much better your taste is than everyone else's. Give it a rest, people.

Did you read the article? The attitude those business types have toward their customers is insulting as hell. "Elitism" is the new nebulus insult where "liberal" used to work ("Come on, don't be elitist, let's just go the OG). There is nothing wrong with being elitist toward the Olive Garden. The homoginization of this country bothers a lot of people, and this article and thread simply provide validation.
posted by chrismc at 11:28 AM on August 1, 2001


You have to wonder how much money a corporation puts into things like a crew education kit containing information about beverage suggestive selling techniques. You mean, ask them if they'd like something specific from the beverage menu? If anything, I think the marketing people have had their biggest successes with convincing corporations how well marketing works and how necessary it is. If products I like stopped marketing altogether I'd still buy them. But then, as was mentioned, the point is never about making a QUALITY product (or restaurant experience), which *IS* my focus, but about making more money. So much wasted energy, IMO.

And there is SO MUCH *GOOD* Italian in NYC I can't imagine going to Olive Garden while there. In some places however, finding a good Italian restaurant IS a challenge. Hell, we were in CA for three years before we found a reasonably good NYC-ish pizza place - one that didn't have overly spicy but generally tasteless sauce.
posted by thunder at 11:28 AM on August 1, 2001


And just for the record, EVERY restaurant (even little hipster dens in the East Village) teach their waiters to Up-Sell. That's how restaurants work.

It's not just the Village....just about every restaurant in the world is constantly trying to upsell you on the high-margin items. Go into Olive Garden and you get asked if you'd like a soda, go into McDonald's and you get asked if you want to add an item or upsize the item, but go into "Le Bistro du Swank" and they'll try to upsell you on wine, appetizers, coffee, and dessert.

Last time I looked, most restaurants were mainly interested in making money...or at least, most restaurant owners...

The Coca-Cola people are only guilty of two things here: 1. a very unfortunate name for their upsell program; and b) phrasing the program in crustulous marketing mumbo-jumbo.
posted by briank at 11:36 AM on August 1, 2001


Again Mefi brings up "the corporation bugaboo". Corporations are groups of people, humans like you and me. Do you really think Mom & Pop aren't interested in separating you from your hard earned money too? Actually, there ARE people who have restaurants and stores simply because they LOVE doing it! No, really! *grin* And whenever I've interacted with someone who's doing what they love doing the experience is fantastic. I am beginning to believe that if a company isn't headed by a person who loves the products and is concerned about the QUALITY of the product that their name is on (not just in word, but in spirit too), that's when the behind-the-scenes focus shifts from creating a great thing to just selling products or moving inventory. And yes, you CAN do what you love and still make a lot of money - LOL. No, I won't tell you how right now - send me a check for $1,000 and we'll talk. *wink*
posted by thunder at 11:37 AM on August 1, 2001


Corporations are groups of people, humans like you and me.

Right, and humans are groups of cells, just like a nematode sea-worm.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:08 PM on August 1, 2001


"Elitism" is the new nebulus insult where "liberal" used to work ("Come on, don't be elitist, let's just go the OG).

Great point, Chrismc. Like "bleeding-heart liberal" or "politically correct," "elitist" is another term used to undermine legitimate distinctions in quality, whether it be culinary, literary, etc.

glenwood - So my displeasure with Britney, Coke, AOL, etc makes me an "elitist?" If I embrace bullshit, does that make me a "populist?"

oh yeah, I almost forgot. It's a CAN, and there's PEPSI in it, dammit!
posted by preguicoso at 12:42 PM on August 1, 2001


So my displeasure with Britney, Coke, AOL, etc makes me an "elitist?"

No, the fact that you think you are better than the people who like such things makes you an elitist.

oh yeah, I almost forgot. It's a CAN, and there's PEPSI in it, dammit!



The top of this 'can' is 27 pixels. The length of the man's face from the bottom of his eyebrows to the middle of his chin is also 27 pixels. There's no way he's holding a soda can that big.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:58 PM on August 1, 2001


Last time I looked, most restaurants were mainly interested in making money...or at least, most restaurant owners...

My gripe is that it's two-faced. All restaurants survive on mark-up, whether its the 40% on the house red, or the fact that pasta pomodoro costs about 50p in raw ingredients. But there's a difference between restaurants that are up front about their margins, by factoring it into the cost of the meals, and those that engage in psychological games through serving staff, who in turn rely upon tips to make up their wages.

But the best way to back the restaurants with a little bit of character and integrity is to give them your money. And tell your friends. (One of the saddest parts of being a restaurant reviewer is when your favourite places close. It's all too common, even in cities that support good restaurants.)
posted by holgate at 1:52 PM on August 1, 2001


So my displeasure with Britney, Coke, AOL, etc makes me an "elitist?"

No, the fact that you think you are better than the people who like such things makes you an elitist.

Umm - when did I say I thought I was better? My niece likes Britney. My mom likes AOL. I don't think i'm better than them.

Geez, ljromanoff, that's almost as bad as the guy who described everyone here as:

you young white Internet professionals

That's assuming a lot, no?
posted by preguicoso at 2:21 PM on August 1, 2001


No comment on Olive Garden, they can do what they want to do (and my Italian relatives enjoyed the place - I was surprised when they suggested it for dinner).

As for the kid and the soda. Wouldn't a straw have been more practical rather than try to poor into the kids mouth? (Though I suppose the straw may not be visisble.)
posted by obfusciatrist at 2:26 PM on August 1, 2001


Umm - when did I say I thought I was better? My niece likes Britney. My mom likes AOL. I don't think i'm better than them.

No, I'm sure you don't. However, there's a strong implication throughout the thread that those who go to the Olive Garden and buy a Coke are manipulated robots to be pittied because they're too foolish to patronize a non-chain restaurant that still offers free water.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:43 PM on August 1, 2001


No, I'm sure you don't. However, there's a strong implication throughout the thread that those who go to the Olive Garden and buy a Coke are manipulated robots to be pittied because they're too foolish to patronize a non-chain restaurant that still offers free water.

Oh man, you've got to read Jean Teasdale this week.
posted by chrismc at 3:02 PM on August 1, 2001


But the best way to back the restaurants with a little bit of character and integrity is to give them your money. And tell your friends. And even eat there occasionally! *grin* Seriously though, I second your motion.
posted by thunder at 3:03 PM on August 1, 2001


It has to be Pepsi; just look at how frightened the kid is.
posted by gleemax at 5:59 PM on August 1, 2001


It has to be Pepsi; just look at how frightened the kid is.

No kidding. If someone gave me Pepsi I'd have the same reaction. It's Dr Pepper or bust for me!
posted by ljromanoff at 6:24 PM on August 1, 2001


I vote plastic cup. Hence: the shine on it and the width of it.

However, there's a strong implication throughout the thread that those who go to the Olive Garden and buy a Coke are manipulated robots to be pittied because they're too foolish to patronize a non-chain restaurant that still offers free water.

Err, no, there is also the strong possibility that people are showing their outrage at the upsell and venting their frustration at not being able to get a glass of water, which comes free out of their taps at home, yet costs more per gallon than gasoline in a bottle, when they go out. No value judgment on people who go to the Olive Garden necessary to be incensed by such a riduclous upsell. When I go out, I want a god damned glass of water. If I want to buy a coke too, then I will. Do not attempt to guilt trip me into getting bottled water, I know that you have it, and I will drop your tip if you try to upsell me, bring me something I don't want, or give me bad service because I refuse to purchase more than I want. Such is my right.

You can try to hard sell, but it's gonna bite you in the butt. The elitist is the corporate drone who thought that reminding someone that there's something other than tap water to drink, as if by some miracle, it would cure that customer of her beverage amnesia. "Lord have mercy, I am cured of my tap water addiction and now I can drink carbonated sugar water!"

What's elitist about carping against corporate newspeak? Seems awfully plebian to this liberal.
posted by swerdloff at 10:06 PM on August 1, 2001


Err, no, there is also the strong possibility that people are showing their outrage at the upsell and venting their frustration at not being able to get a glass of water,

Bah. How many who posted in this thread even go to the Olive Garden? Don't all raise your hands at once.
posted by ljromanoff at 10:35 PM on August 1, 2001


a glass of water, which comes free out of their taps at home

What about that water bill you pay each month? I know, nitpicking... but still...
posted by gyc at 11:07 PM on August 1, 2001


And besides, it doesn't say that you can't get a glass of water, you're just going to hear alternative suggestions when you ask for one. I've noticed that this is the norm, but if you ask for a wedge of lemon, making it clear that you really want the water, they don't bother with the upsell.
posted by Dreama at 11:17 PM on August 1, 2001


Interesting -- Coke has taken these pages down. For now there's still Google.
posted by davidfg at 8:37 AM on August 2, 2001


Did you read the article? The attitude those business types have toward their customers is insulting as hell. "Elitism" is the new nebulus insult where "liberal" used to work ("Come on, don't be elitist, let's just go the OG). There is nothing wrong with being elitist toward the Olive Garden. The homoginization of this country bothers a lot of people, and this article and thread simply provide validation.

A) My post, granted, was not related to the article exactly but to the general tone of this thread.

B) If there is a dog named rover it doesn't mean all dogs are named rover. My point was the implication that people who choose to eat at the Olive Garden are dumber and simpler than yourselves.

C) The homogonization of this country bothers me as well. That wasn't the point. I just feel driven to contrariness when everyone in the thread is so homogenously joining hands to whine about the big mean corporations, and the big dumb 'average Americans' who make it all possible. I mean there's nothing new here, folks. Businesses want to make money. They discuss methods of making money with their industry partners. I will continue to drink water instead of soda. Blahblahblah.

My post was supposed to be taken with a grinning grain of salt. Of course I don't think EVERYONE here is a 'young white internet professional'. Jeebus. Go get a sense of humor.
posted by glenwood at 9:36 AM on August 2, 2001


a glass of water, which comes free out of their taps at home

Well, no. You have to pay the city to clean the water and pipe it to your house.
posted by glenwood at 9:40 AM on August 2, 2001


glenwood: Go get a sense of humor.

Wouldn't you like a nice, refreshing Coca-Cola instead?
posted by hijinx at 9:47 AM on August 2, 2001


ok. are we done here?
posted by chrismc at 9:51 AM on August 2, 2001


Wouldn't you like a nice, refreshing Coca-Cola instead?


Heehee.

No, a water please.

In a cup that says pepsi on it.
posted by glenwood at 10:23 AM on August 2, 2001


What makes a bad restaurant is bad food and bad service, or some combination thereof. If one's experiences at Olive Garden pass these tests based on one's own judgement criteria, then enjoy! If not, then seek out a more suitable dining experience. To each his own.

If chain restaurants dominate the market and homogenize the culinary landscape, it is because that's where the most dollars are being spent. This is right and appropriate, it seems to me, and it is equally right and appropriate for those of us bothered by this to voice our frustration, plead our case, and take our dollars elsewhere.

Clearly, it is a CAN.

--rushmc, proud elitist and occasional soda (but *never* Pepsi) drinker
posted by rushmc at 11:20 AM on August 2, 2001


Clearly, it is a CAN.

That's no can.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:01 PM on August 2, 2001


If chain restaurants dominate the market and homogenize the culinary landscape, it is because that's where the most dollars are being spent. This is right and appropriate, it seems to me, and it is equally right and appropriate for those of us bothered by this to voice our frustration, plead our case, and take our dollars elsewhere.

What does "right and appropriate" mean? It is what exists, I guess, and it is the way things can be expected to work for the visible future. But saying "right and appropriate" implies some sort of moral good - that we should be happy about this state of affairs. Is this what you mean?

I take my dollars elsewhere, because it's more fun that way, and I can pretend the marketers don't have their hooks in me, but in the grand scheme of things my (lack of) participation makes no difference at all. There are strong financial incentives to the "damn uniqueness, franchise it anyway" approach and they will prevail whether we like it or not. It's a ratchet.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:52 PM on August 2, 2001


What does "right and appropriate" mean? It is what exists, I guess, and it is the way things can be expected to work for the visible future. But saying "right and appropriate" implies some sort of moral good - that we should be happy about this state of affairs. Is this what you mean?

I most certainly DO discern a moral good in an expression of the will of the people, even when it may go against my own preferences.
posted by rushmc at 9:01 PM on August 2, 2001


I most certainly DO discern a moral good in an expression of the will of the people, even when it may go against my own preferences.

As if there is a moral good in popularity alone, which changes like the weather.
posted by chrismc at 9:46 PM on August 2, 2001


Moral good does not exist only in that which is static.
posted by rushmc at 10:35 AM on August 3, 2001


I mean there's nothing new here, folks. Businesses want to make money.

The problem is that businesses, due to computers, are getting smarter and smarter, and better able to manipulate people, and crowd out quality for the profit motive. Whether people are dumber is open to question; in terms of food, I suspect they are.

In any case, the Olive Garden is a blight, especially in NYC. I don't want to live in a world (or city) where such institutions exist. The next time I find myself in Times Square, I will try to resist the impulse to find the OG, enter, and scream at the top of my lungs something disparaging about the joint and the people inside.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:55 AM on August 3, 2001


The problem is that businesses, due to computers, are getting smarter and smarter, and better able to manipulate people

Businesses, due to computers, are getting better about discovering what their customers want and responding to it.

In any case, the Olive Garden is a blight, especially in NYC. I don't want to live in a world (or city) where such institutions exist.

It's comments like this that make you sound arrogant and elitist. If you don't like the Olive Garden, fine. If you think it's ridiculous that they don't offer water w/o charge anymore, that's fine too. But who are you to say that because you don't wish to patronize Olive Garden, that it is a blight and that they shouldn't exist? Olive Garden exists because it provides a commodity that some people enjoy. If you aren't one of them, so be it, but don't try to impose your tastes on everybody else by suggesting that any business that doesn't cater to you should not exist.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:25 PM on August 3, 2001


Did anyone save the article? Could I get a copy emailed to me or a link?
posted by chrismc at 12:37 PM on August 3, 2001


Did anyone save the article? Could I get a copy emailed to me or a link?

The Google Cached version.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:04 PM on August 3, 2001


Just to update for anyone passing by, CommonDreams has the NYT story about, and a copy of, those pages on their site.
posted by davidchess at 5:28 AM on November 14, 2001


Thanks for the update!
posted by silusGROK at 9:06 AM on November 14, 2001


Comment 100!
posted by ljromanoff at 12:57 PM on November 15, 2001


Show off.

: P
posted by silusGROK at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2001


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