Olive Garden Gives Family a Free Meal After Grandpa’s House Burns Down

Unlimited breadsticks and salad aren't the only nice things that the Italian restaurant chain does

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Fred Prouser / Getty Images

An Olive Garden restaurant in Burbank, Calif.

One family got more than unlimited breadsticks and salad at Olive Garden.

When the manager of an Olive Garden restaurant in Vernon Hills, Ill., asked customers at one table how everything was going, a 3-year-old girl blurted out, “Grandpa’s house burned down,” according to New York magazine’s Grub Street blog. When the family was getting ready to pay, they were handed a check with everything discounted by 100%. Olive Garden had given them a bill of $0.

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The story almost seems too good to be true, like a p.r. stint from Olive Garden or its parent company, Darden Concepts Inc., which is what some Reddit commentators were quick to assume when Seth McClure, the girl’s father, posted the bill on the social-news and entertainment website.

However, a rep from Olive Garden denied that in an e-mail to New York magazine:

The receipt is real and was posted by the guests, not by anyone at Olive Garden or Darden. We are always looking for ways to surprise and delight our guests, and this was one of the ways the Olive Garden team in Vernon Hills, Ill., did that last weekend.

In lieu of getting the free meal, McClure left a $20 tip, the International Business Times reported.

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