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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Corporate Media Moguls Create "Internet Sensation" Over Review of Crappy Restaurant

Strip Mall Cuisine
I'm probably at least 24 hours behind the zeitgeist as far as the internet goes so I noticed just today this completely self-serving, self-fulfilling load of shit: 85 Year Old Woman's Review of (shitty Italian food-inspired restaurant) is Internet Sensation. I saw that someone on Facebook had linked the article on Yahoo News. Instead of going to Yahoo via FB and allowing yet another creepy company access to my vital information I queried the story on Google. It became instantly clear as to why this story had gone "viral." Why would anyone care what an old woman in some town in North Dakota wrote in her hick newspaper about a completely mediocre chain restaurant? Answer: they wouldn't. It is in the interests of corporate America to hold up evidence that someone, somewhere thinks that their faux Italian restaurants are worthwhile. Who knows how much this franchise spends on advertising but I'm sure that Yahoo News, CNN, Fox News, and every other corporate media outlet knows the exact figure. These "news" organizations picked up on this turd of a non-story and ran it into the end zone in a win-win situation for crappy news and worse corporate food.

I couldn’t find any evidence that this story had “gone viral” except that it has been repeated by all of the news agencies who pretty much dominate the internet. I have written before about movie reviews in the New Yorker and how most caustic reviews are reserved for independent films (movies that don’t spend a lot on advertising) while reviewers will bend over backwards to say something nice about even the biggest piece of shit in movie history if it's from a big studio. You're allowed to have a voice in America but only if you play by the rules laid out by the people who run the show.

These soul-smothering franchise restaurants have run family-owned places out of most small communities in America to the point where most folks have no choice when eating out but to go to a McShittly's or an O'What-the-Fuck's-It-Called? or some such thing. Now the news outlets are manipulating the country into actually believing that these places have food worth eating as they make this unsuspecting woman the patron saint of mediocrity. These franchises suck the life out of communities and give back minimum wage jobs and strip malls. They usually don't buy anything local as everything in the kitchen is shipped from thousands of miles away.  Don't buy into their manipulation. I'd rather eat out of a dumpster every night rather than be caught dead in one of these horrible excuses for a restaurant.

Here is the original review and I don’t think I’m being the least bit “snarky” when I say that it deserves zero attention. It's exactly what you would expect of a small town newspaper and nothing more. However, it has just what corporations require: an unstintingly bland and uncontroversial message that couldn’t possibly offend or excite anyone—sort of like the food at this mediocre eatery.

I’m sure that since its inception the restaurant has been scanning the universe—Cosmos style—in search of a favorable review.  And then it happened. I imagine that the call came in to their battered public relations department bunker at 3 am.

“We got it!  We finally fucking got it!  A half-assed, not-at-all-insulting review,” the caller breathlessly, tearfully exclaims.
“Who? Where?”
“Some old gal writing in some hick shopping flier out in...(pauses as he reads the location)…in Grand Forks, North Dakota.”
"Where the fuck is that?”
"Who the fuck cares? Just get on it ASAP!”

And so the public relations department calls the “news” agencies and tells them to blow the thing sky high. And of course they do because reporting stupid shit like this is a lot easier than doing actual journalism—not that any of them even know what journalism is at this juncture in television news.

Call it the Applebee-ification of American dining out, where your every eating desire is being examined on a PowerPoint presentation at a corporate headquarters a thousand miles from your home.

After a lengthy wait for Olive Garden to open in Grand Forks, the lines were long in February. The novelty is slowly wearing off, but the steady following attests the warm welcome.

My first visit to Olive Garden was during midafternoon, so I could be sure to get in. After a late breakfast, I figured a late lunch would be fashionable.

The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.

My booth was near the kitchen, and I watched the waiters in white shirts, ties, black trousers and aprons adorned with gold-colored towels. They were busy at midday, punching in orders and carrying out bread and pasta.

It had been a few years since I ate at the older Olive Garden in Fargo, so I studied the two manageable menus offering appetizers, soups and salads, grilled sandwiches, pizza, classic dishes, chicken and seafood and filled pastas.

At length, I asked my server what she would recommend. She suggested chicken Alfredo, and I went with that. Instead of the raspberry lemonade she suggested, I drank water.

She first brought me the familiar Olive Garden salad bowl with crisp greens, peppers, onion rings and yes — several black olives. Along with it came a plate with two long, warm breadsticks.

The chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day. The portion was generous. My server was ready with Parmesan cheese.

As I ate, I noticed the vases and planters with permanent flower displays on the ledges. There are several dining areas with arched doorways. And there is a fireplace that adds warmth to the decor.

Olive Garden has an attractive bar area to the right of the entryway. The restaurant has a full liquor license and a wine list offering a wide selection to complement Italian meals. Nonalcoholic beverages include coolers, specialty coffees and hot teas.

On a hot summer day, I will try the raspberry lemonade that was recommended.

There’s a homemade soup, salad and breadstick lunch available until 4 p.m. daily for $6.95.

An olive branch on menu items signified low-fat entrees. There is a Garden Fare Nutrition Guide available for customers seeking gluten-free food. And for those with food allergies, Olive Garden has an Allergen Information Guide.

All in all, it is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks. It attracts visitors from out of town as well as people who live here.

Olive Garden is part of the Darden chain of restaurants that also operates Red Lobster. There are about 700 restaurants, including four Olive Gardens in North Dakota’s major cities.

Olive Garden has gained a following since 1982 with its ample portions and relaxed ambiance. It’s known for its classic lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo and chicken Parmigiana.

                                                      Source: Grand Forks Herald

Not exactly Tolstoy and completely undeserving of notice by anyone but a handful of quasi-literate folks out in North Dakota.


  1. To be semi fair, you HAVE to truck food from far away to get anything to eat besides the odd Elk in grand forks, it's not just OG that is the culprit.

    And I think you used "actually " instead if actual somewhere in this well crafted rant.

  2. North Dakota has some of the best farmland in the country. They grow damn near everything and there are tens of thousands of acres of range for cattle, sheep, pigs, you name it. OG and its ilk are destroying restaurants and people's idea of restaurants all over the country.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the typo.


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