Sioux City Journal: Olive Garden arrives

This article, published in December 2006, is a masterpiece of journalism. It heralds the coming of a major civic center of 21st century Sioux City:

…To Siouxland residents, many of whom consider themselves connoisseurs of fine food, a city is not a city without an Olive Garden. So as of Monday, Sioux City becomes a real city.

What for years has been a local obsession — the OG’s manicotti formaggio, chicken vino bianco and zuppa toscana driving Siouxlanders to Omaha and Sioux Falls — has become a reality.

Olive Garden officially opens its newest restaurant at 4 p.m. Monday at 4930 Sergeant Road in Lakeport Commons.

[…]

The Olive Garden menu is famous for its variety, offering everything from spaghetti and meatballs to fettuccine alfredo, capellini pomodoro, shrimp primavera, lobster spaghetti, lasagna classico, sausage and peppers russica, a variety of pizzas and appetizers — and wines, of course, an important part of any Italian dining experience. There is also a full selection of beers, cordials and specialty drinks from the bar.

In an inspired move, the article zeroes in on the manager of the new eatery.

That’s the reaction that excites general manager Jason Hagarty, 31, an Omaha native and bachelor with eight years of Olive Garden experience, most recently as general manager in Dubuque.

“I’m excited,” he said, noting the reaction of people in public when they find out who he is. “I think it’s going to be a good marriage — us and Sioux City. This is my seventh Olive Garden, and this is the one I’m most excited about.”

[…]

The Olive Garden will be open dinner hours starting at 4 p.m. the first week of operation. Lunch will be served starting at 11 a.m. every day beginning Dec. 18…

Hagarty pointed to the pictures on the wall that also come from Italy and the bar top that is crafted from lava stone, then hand-painted by artisans in Italy with a design created exclusively for Olive Garden. Vibrant imported fabrics decorate windows and dining seats. Hand-painted plates adorn rustic stone and stucco walls, and the lighting fixtures are even distinctly Italian.

The restaurant was designed after the company’s Riserva di Fizzano restaurant in Tuscany, Italy, “which is rustic, charming and beautiful — the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a genuine Italian dining experience,” Hagarty said…

“It was the chance of a lifetime,” he said, noting that the Tuscany restaurant serves as the source of inspiration for many dishes on Olive Garden’s menu. “We have probably 10 dishes that are actually inspired from that. We have a culinary chef in the mountain area over there and she works with people from Orlando (company headquarters), and they develop dishes and bring them back here.”

What makes this article most compelling is that it is open to multiple interpretations. Some may read this article as a damning indictment of Midwestern banality, but I choose to see it as the masterpiece of scribe John Quinlan.

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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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