Friday, December 17, 2010

Awkward Garden

I have nothing against Olive Garden: it's tasty, it's reasonable, and the level of service is pretty consistent. For chain restaurants, you can't do much better. If you said "How about hitting up the OG for dinner?" I'd probably say "yes," if only because I love Andes mints.*

But I'd feel weird about it.

I always feel a little uncomfortable in that place, because it occupies the center of a social nexus. OG is a chain, and a corporate entity, but steps its presentation up a notch from most in that field. I mean we all know the place isn't a "real" Italian restaurant, but any given 'Garden is definitely a classier experience than your average Applebee's or Chili's. And that's exactly why it's so weird.

If I walk in wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I feel like I should be more dressed up. If I walk in dressed up, I feel awkward sitting in the waiting area next to a guy in overalls. Which one of us is inappropriately dressed, Olive Garden? If this was a burger joint it'd be no big deal—the relaxed motif would give us level protocol ground. But your bottles of wine and stone exterior have forced me to shuffle my feet, wishing I'd shaved before I left the house.

*Which is why I love going there with people who don't like them.

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