Twenty years ago, after graduating from college as music major, I came to New York City with dreams of becoming an actor. I took the subway into the city to look for a job that would allow me to pursue my acting career. I saw a sign that Olive Garden was coming to Times Square, applied and was hired as a server.
I trained with the rest of my opening team to prepare for our grand opening. It was very exciting to be opening a restaurant in such an energetic and iconic location. After a few years, I eventually discovered that acting wasn’t for me and I developed a strong passion for the restaurant and the company. I knew I could contribute more to the success of the restaurant and our team, so I decided to pursue management roles at Olive Garden.
Now, our restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month. I can’t believe it was just 20 years ago that I got off the subway and started as a server. The Times Square location is the only Olive Garden I’ve worked at for the past 20 years, and I’m incredibly proud to have been the General Manager of such a great restaurant and team for the past nine years. I’ve seen many team members who came to the city to pursue their dreams like I did, such as wanting to work in fashion or become an artist, and I’m glad I could offer them flexibility as they pursued their talents. I also have two team members, Russell Spark, bartender, and Steve Jones, busser, who were part of our opening team 20 years ago.
We have built a great culture at our restaurant. My team members truly care about preserving the culture and creating a fun and supportive environment. My favorite part of my job is building the relationships and trust of my restaurant team and being able to help find better ways to do things and to make sense of things.
Times Square is an exciting location and our guests have high expectations. But our location is built on the same principles and quality that our guests know and love. For the past 20 years, my whole team has been proud to bring the Olive Garden experience to all our visitors in The Big Apple.
By: Mike Garver, General Manager, Olive Garden