7 Things You Never Knew About Olive Garden, Straight From an Employee

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Curious about Olive Garden’s restaurant secrets, POPSUGAR spoke to a representative to get all the details. Besides the fact that Olive Garden serves 220 million guests per year and gave out 21,000 Never Ending Pasta passes last year (people really love the pasta), the popular Italian chain has plenty of fun facts that will make you an even bigger fan. Keep reading to find out more about the homemade soups, the employee discount, the culinary institute in Italy, and more.

The most popular menu item is . . .

“Chicken Alfredo is Olive Garden’s most popular menu item. Shrimp Scampi is also among the bestselling dishes at Olive Garden — it is so flavorful, many guests are surprised to learn the entire entrée is just 500 calories! Out of all the noodle options, Olive Garden guests prefer fettuccine noodles. As far as pasta toppings go, Olive Garden guests love the grilled chicken.”

Olive Garden really does have a culinary institute in Italy.

“Every year, more than 200 managers and team members travel to Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany. This trip is designed to immerse team members in the Italian culture while learning about the cuisine and interacting with Olive Garden’s overseas partners, the wineries and pasta makers we consider to be a part of Olive Garden’s extended family.”

The restaurant has been around since the early ’80s.

“The first Olive Garden restaurant opened in Orlando in 1982.”

The soups are made fresh every morning.

“All of Olive Garden’s signature soups — Pasta e Fagioli, Chicken & Gnocchi, Zuppa Toscana, and Minestrone — are made by hand and from scratch every morning using fresh, whole ingredients such as kale, peppers, and squash.”

Employees get a great discount.

“Team members can enjoy $1 unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks and 50 percent off of meals before, during, and after their shift.”

You can get Olive Garden delivery for large parties.

“Olive Garden offers delivery for large parties, weddings, and other events. Olive Garden loves to celebrate with brides around their big day and even created a DIY breadstick bouquet.”

There are gluten-free pasta options upon request.

“Olive Garden servers will work with guests on any dietary needs. Servers will happily work with guests to address any food allergies or dietary restrictions. In many instances, they can suggest simple swaps — such as subbing in gluten-free rotini or ordering the Chicken Parmigiana grilled instead of fried — so guests can still enjoy their favorite dishes while meeting their individual needs.”

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