16 Pros and Cons of Working for Olive Garden

Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant with middle-income families as a target audience.

It is a step or two ahead of fast food, but not an overly-fancy place that is expensive.

This could be a good first job to see if you are cut out to be in the restaurant business.

There are advancement opportunities in the company and the pay is competitive with other restaurant chains.

It can be fast-paced and there are long hours at times, however.

Pros of Working for Olive Garden

Good learning opportunity

Olive Garden is enough like a “real” restaurant to give you a feeling of whether it is what you really want to do.

There are several jobs there, like taking orders, busing tables, servers, or line cooks. 

Once you are there,  it is not too hard to switch jobs.

The company has a solid training program, and if you have never done restaurant work, there is a bit of a learning curve. 

They train employees well and the expectations of the job are clearly spelled out to employees.

Their training program is one of the best in this segment of the food industry.

A good first job

Even if you are not considering restaurant work as a career, working at Olive Garden can be a good first job for a college student or a recent high school graduate.

It is a good place to get real-world experience in the working world.

It can be interesting work too, so you won’t be bored.

It is a good place to get something to put on your resume when looking for other jobs later on.

It takes a little time to learn what to do, but it isn’t terribly hard to learn.

They generally hire college students, and younger people in general, so it is not hard to get a job without experience there.

Solid benefits package

Restaurants are doing a better job these days of offering benefits even to part-time workers.

Olive Garden offers insurance that includes vision and dental.

They off a matching 401k program and stock options after you have been there for a while.

There is also paid time off, which is not always the case in the restaurant business.  

Fast-paced environment

There are times when the Olive Garden is very busy, and it can get hectic.

If you like this type of environment, you will love working for this company.

The lowest-paid job is busing tables, and that may be the busiest job because you need to get tables cleared for the next customers.

You won’t be sitting around bored very often at this job though, regardless of what position you have.

Pay raises

Olive Garden starts employees with a good rate of pay, and after six months you get a review and hopefully a raise.

If you fulfill expectations, you get the raise, and if you don’t you might be on your way out.

Still, raises come at scheduled times for good employees.

The reviews are also helpful in that they show you where you stand.

There is no guesswork as to whether you are doing a good job by their standards.

Advancement opportunities

There are several different jobs at Olive Garden, and you can move from one to another fairly easily.

You can also move to higher-paying jobs if you do a good job at the one you already have.

You can also move into management and that can be a career for some people.

The company likes to promote from within as much as possible. 

Free, or low-cost food

Employees get all the salad, soup, and breadsticks they want for free.

There are sound discounts on other food times as well.

If you work a double shift, you will likely get even more free food.

Depending on the individual restaurant, you may get a menu item at no cost during your lunch break.

If you like Italian food, this is a very nice bonus.

When not at work, the discount is much smaller, but there is still a discount.

Flexible schedules

Olive Garden hires a lot of college students, and they try to work with people’s life schedules as much as possible.

The hours are generally flexible.

You can generally get a day off when you want one if you give adequate notice.

Another bonus of this is that extra hours are available when you want them because other people have requested to be off.

Cons of Working at Olive Garden

Can get tiring

If you like a fast-paced job where you are on your feet all day, this is a great situation.

However, if that is not your cup of tea, you may not like this job.

You have to keep going and even speed up when there are a lot of customers in the restaurant. 

You do get breaks, but you may be expected to be moving around and doing things your entire shift.

Working with the public

No matter how much you like people, it is hard to deal with people when they get angry and argumentative.

There are occasional irate customers upset about the service, how long they have to wait, or even the food.

No matter how unreasonable or ridiculous they are being, you have to maintain a professional demeanor and not fight back.

  This is more bothersome to some than others, but it is one downside of working with the public.

Unreasonable expectations

This is related to irate customers, but it can also apply to management and coworkers.

People have expectations.

When people eat out, they expect their service and food to be outstanding, especially if it’s a nice place that is not cheap.

It takes some work to plan ahead and to make sure everything is as good as it can be.

You also have to plan ahead and get the timing right, in addition to being perfect.

Double shifts

There are times when they don’t have enough people, someone calls in sick or there are more customers than expected.

It may not be required, but you may be asked to work a double shift at times.

This is a chance to make more money, but if you don’t want to it may be a problem.

  It may not be legally required, but it will put you on someone’s bad list if you refuse to help out when needed.

Bad managers

No matter how good the company is, a bad manager at the local level can make your life miserable. 

You can find these at any workplace, so it is not just Olive Garden.

It is a fast-paced job, however, and a bad manager in that situation can make the work seem intolerable.

That is something you won’t know until you get into the job for a few weeks, but it is a downside to look out for.

Depending on tips

Especially for servers, workers depend on generous customers to give good tips.

This can be subjective and you never know which customers will tip and which will not.

You do get some pay even without tips, but it is tips that make the job worthwhile financially.

Tips can be a positive, but when you get a run of cheap customers, it can turn into a negative.

In that situation, subjective customers have more to do with how much you make than what you actually do does.

The pay is not great.

The pay is better than most fast food places, but when compared to similar restaurants, Olive Garden is not the best-paying one out there.

  Overall, the pay is reasonable for this type of restaurant, but similar restaurants, such as Chili’s, pay more on average.

The level of pay is a common complaint among employee reviewers.

If you depend on tips, that can make the pay even worse.

Line cooks, for example, are paid a straight hourly wage and do not get tips.

Short breaks

It is a bit odd for a company that offers good benefits and flexible schedules, that it does not offer decent breaks to workers.

Many employee reviewers say breaks are just 10 minutes and you only get those if you work a certain number of hours.

It could be because they are short-staffed, but you will have a fast-paced job with few breaks, and only short ones at that, during your shift.

Other than being on your feet a lot, the job is not physically strenuous, and that may be the reason for short breaks.

16 Pros and Cons of Working for Olive Garden – Summary Table

Pros of working for Olive GardenCons of working at Olive Garden
Good learning opportunityCan get tiring
A good first jobWorking with the public
Solid benefits packageUnreasonable expectations
Fast-paced environmentDouble shifts
Pay raisesBad managers
Advancement opportunitiesDepending on tips
Free, or low-cost foodThe pay is not great.
Flexible schedulesShort breaks

Should you work at Olive Garden?

Olive Garden is a good first job, especially if you think you might like the restaurant business.

It is a good place to get some real-world experience.

They offer a decent benefits package and the pay is decent if not great.

The downside is, that it is a fast-paced environment and you will be busy most of the time.

They don’t give generous breaks, so you may get tired working there.

The fast-paced busy workplace is a positive for some people, but it is a negative for other people. 

As far as restaurants go though, Olive Garden is as good of a place as any to begin your working life. 

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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