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DigitalSky

Olive Garden

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Why isn't there an Olive Garden in the Durham/Chapel Hill area? Most cities this size have one... the closest is in Cary! Hell, even Burlington is getting one...

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There is a Olive Garden on Capital and use to be one on 70, but it closed. I never ate there and don't think "How many Olive gardens you have" is a measure of success. I have 3 small italian restaurants right up the street with 4 more privately owned within 4 miles. I would rather eat there.

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Yeah, the only time I'll go to an Olive Garden is when I'm with a group that "fears the different" - ie, folks who only eat at chain restaurants. The food at OG is okay, and everybody knows what Olive Garden tastes like so there are no surprises, and nobody is offended. It's a safe choice, and that makes it the easy choice when trying to build a consensus among a group about where to go for dinner.

That also makes it an extremely boring choice.

There are dozens of better, more interesting, or better-priced Italian restaurants in the region, so why bother with OG? I think we have plenty Olive Gardens in the Triangle.

Don't get me started on Ragazzi's, btw. Don't ever eat at that (bleep) hole, they're a bunch of jerks - I had a really bad experience at the one on Glenwood.

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Olive Garden may be the worst Italian food on the planet with Ragazzi's being a close second. Actually is it even fair to call it Italian food?

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Olive Garden may be the worst Italian food on the planet with Ragazzi's being a close second. Actually is it even fair to call it Italian food?

What are you thoughts on Carraba's?

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Carrabas is great. It's in my top 3 easily along with Maggianoes(SP) and Johnny Carrinoes and this nice Italian spot at New Falls of Neuse and Capital Boulevard. All of which I think are better than Olive Garden.

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Also I think Resturant chains can somwhat gauge how strong a metros economy is. Like for instance having a Cheesecake factory or Ruth Chris or Mortons Steakhouse. It's the same in retail with stores.It's the we have a Saks and your metro does not thing.

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I'm all about Piccola Italia at Cameron Village. Although the fare is a little different from what you'll find at most of those places. I think it's some of the best Italian around. Living in Morrisville now I don't get out there often anymore, but I was sure to go there whenever I had the money while I was at NCSU.

I've always wanted to go to 518 West, but every time I've tried they're full on reservations for the night. How is it?

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no offense, but who cares?!? i have not been to an olive garden since like '88.

The issue was brought up by friends of mine at UNC who say they don't like having to drive to Cary for Olive Garden.

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All the chain Italian tastes about the same....OG, Carrabbas, Macaroni Grill......I find it pathetic when I talk to someone who loves any of these but has never even heard of 518....

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Part of me is glad the "chainers" don't go to Luna, 518, Picola, etc. so it is easier to get a table. But part of me thinks that if they went to the local establishments more, then more would open up?

There can be a half hour or more wait at the Capital Blvd Olive Garden, Carrabas, and Mac Grill on weekends but a lot fewer people go to Casalinga, hidden in mini city. It costs a little more, but is soooo worth it. The last time I went, it looked like they were expanding into the store to the right, but who knows how long that will take.

In Durham, Sal's is ok for what it is, and has a buffet on saturday nights. There is a Macaroni Grill near South Square, and the Maggianos in Southpoint never seems to be hurting for business, so it is odd that the area isn't served better. Everyone can't go to 411 or peppers in chapel hill.. there has to be some other options.

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Perfect example of undergrads at UNC. There are 5-6 great Italian places on Franklin Street/Main Street that these students don't even know about (and why 4 years in Chapel Hill means nothing). Trilussa, Vespa, 411 West, Panzanella, Il Palio, LaRussa's Deli (on 54)and Aurora (on 54) are all within wolking distance to campus or a bus ride. I think this is why Chapel Hill can't be considered a college town-because these restaurants (and othe businesses) thrive without student business.

On top of it, these are probably the best Italian restaurants in NC.

Sal's, IP3, Pepper's, Franklin Street Pizza and Pasta are all better than Olive Garden.

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It may seem weird, but this discussion is a microcosom of why urban areas are not at their potential here in the Triangle. Mom and Pop Italian restaurants are passed over the olive gardens et al because of issues that are easily overlooked by members here but are criticial/essential to suburbia:

- how far do I need to drive?

- how far is it from the interstate/beltline?

- how many free parking spaces are within eyesight of the building/front door?

- do they have my same favorite dish as the other outlet I went to in another town?

- how often do they advertise during prime time network tv and local news?

- do they have a kids menu with crayons to keep the rugrats busy?

- is there a snob factor/do they make groups with kids feel unwelcome/uncomfortable?

Fayetville Street, Main Street, Franklin Street, Glenwood South, American Tobacco, etc. all have these hurdles to clear before "the others" will consider them as options. Olive Garden, Outback, blah blah blah are all "good enough" for the price, so why bother going past those places to try something different? In areas that were well served restaurant wise before the early 90s, these places don't stand a chance.

How do we get beyond this? Other than "take a friend to a better dinner", I don't know.

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