As soon as she walked in, there was glitz and glamor. There were parties and dancing girls, waiters in black ties adorned with gold-colored towels, toiling in the midday. The room was delicately decorated in il stilo di Toscana, and all around there was exquisite cuisine, fine wine, and tantalizing aromas that circulated through the breathtaking, ethereal bistro. This was Olive Garden, and newly minted Internet sensation 85-year-old Marilyn Hagerty had arrived.
Hagerty, a food columnist and restaurant reviewer from Grand Forks, N.D., has finding herself the subject of unexpected (and unwanted) attention since her enthusiastic review of a new Olive Garden in her town went viral. Since the review was posted on the Grand Forks Herald’s website, the story became the newspaper’s most popular article and resulted in over 21,000 shares on Facebook and 14,000 tweets. (And 77 whosits-and-whatchamacallits on Google Plus, no doubt a record high.)
“Yesterday morning the phone started ringing and messages started going up, and I had no clue what it was all about,” Hagerty told ABC News. “These people were making fun of me… and then I thought, so what? My son told me that it had gone viral but I didn’t know what that meant. It’s been like a three ring circus over here ever since.”
The review is unsurprisingly positive. Hagerty praised the Tuscan farmhouse style, as well as the “attractive bar area” and how the “olive branch on menu items signified low-fat entrees.”
If Hagerty’s enthusiasm for the “Italian” restaurant (which she calls “the largest and most beautiful” in the area) is any indication of the mindset of the greater population of Grand Forks, then we’ve been focusing on the wrong corporate evil. Forget Wal-Mart’s greedy fingers and Google’s we-know-that-you-know-that-we-know privacy issues – Olive Garden is the real threat to your existence. Why do you think the salad is unlimited and the breadsticks oh so toasty? So that you never leave. Never. Godspeed, Marilyn Hagerty.