Olive Garden Apologizes After Staff Refuses to Let Patron Display American Flag

Olive Garden.

Olive Garden.  (AP)

Controversy over an Alabama Olive Garden's refusal to allow a patron to enter the restaurant with an American flag reportedly has prompted the restaurant chain to issue a personal apology from its vice president. 

The patron, 80-year-old Marti Warren, told she was outraged after being told she could not bring the flag into the restaurant to attend a Kiwanis Club award banquet.

"This is not my country. This is not my country I grew up with," Warren said, adding that she and the club then contacted Olive Garden's parent company, Darden restaurants. 

Olive Garden has issued public statements apologizing, including on its Facebook page. 

"We are very sorry for any misunderstanding about this issue," the Facebook post reads. "We do not have a policy at Olive Garden concerning bringing the American flag into our restaurants. Some members of our team were misinformed about company policy by our corporate office. As a company, we take responsibility for that and we regret it. ...

"Like all Americans we have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the American flag and everything it symbolizes, and we welcome anyone who wishes to bring the flag into our restaurants. In fact, we periodically provide American flag collar pins to our employees to wear while serving guests."

Warren, who said the denial felt as though she "had been slapped in the face," also reportedly was told she couldn't bring the Golden K Kiwanis club's banner into the dining room. She said she would have taken the group somewhere else if she had know this would happen.

The club reportedly said the Pledge of Allegiance under Warren's guidance with their eyes closed so that they could picture the flag waving in the wind. 

Warren said the vice president of the company has contacted her to apologize and will travel to Oxford, Ala., to apologize to all the Golden K Kiwanis Club members, reports. 

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