The History of the Olive Garden Italian Restaurant

Pasta image by Yvonne Bogdanski from

Olive Garden is an Italian-themed restaurant chain with sites in every American state, except Alaska and Hawaii, as well as outlets in Canada. It is marketed as a family style restaurant that takes its menu inspiration from Tuscany.


The Olive Garden chain was founded in Orlando Florida in 1982 by General Mills Inc, being added to the companies long list of well-known brands including Red Lobster, Hamburger Helper and Bisquik.

The Split

In 1995, the restaurant division of General Mills split away to become its own publicly traded company, Darden Restaurants.

Culinary Institute

Olive Gardens commitment to authentic Tuscan cooking led to the creation in 1999 of a culinary institute in Tuscany. The brand sends hundreds of its managers and chefs to spend time at the institute to further their understanding of Italian Cuisine.