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*** UPDATED x3 *** Quinn goes small (even tiny) ball… Promotes company that fought raising minimum wage

Monday, Sep 29, 2014

* Agreed…


* Yep, it’s true. The press release…

Governor Quinn Announces the Wait is Over for Chicago’s First Olive Garden Restaurant

New Restaurant Bringing 170 Jobs, Never-Ending Pasta Bowl and Unlimited Breadsticks to Help Feed Illinois’ Growing Workforce

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by local officials and employees for the opening of a new Olive Garden restaurant on West Addison Street in Chicago. The new restaurant employs 170 people, who join the 13,800 new private sector jobs created throughout Illinois during August. Today’s event is part of the Governor’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“Illinois’ restaurant industry is thriving and establishments like Olive Garden are helping drive our economic comeback,” Governor Quinn said. “While we have more work to do, more people are working today than at any time in the past six years. This is good news for people across the state and it is thanks in part to companies like Olive Garden who are employing hardworking residents and growing our workforce.”

The new Chicago restaurant brings 170 new jobs to the community. Olive Garden, owned by Darden Restaurants, Inc., was created in 1982 and has more than 800 restaurants in the United States and Canada. Darden Restaurants has worked to open up an additional 200 restaurant locations across their brands since 2011.

“Olive Garden would like to thank Governor Quinn and the City of Chicago for their outstanding support in helping us open our first restaurant here,” Remoun Abraham, general manager of the Addison Street Olive Garden said. “We’re excited to join this vibrant community and help create local jobs, and look forward to welcoming and serving our guests.”

I’ve asked the governor’s office if any state incentives were used here. I’ll let you know what they say.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Some commenters are making some interesting points about the restaurant chain’s parent company, so I did a little Googling. From February of this year..

Several big restaurant companies — including YUM! Brands, (YUM) which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut; Darden Restaurants (DRI), which owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster; and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (CBRL) — directly lobbied against a bill to raise the minimum wage last year, according to Senate lobbying reports.

From 2012

Darden Restaurants Inc, best known for its Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, was hit with a lawsuit in federal court in Miami on Thursday accusing one of the largest U.S. restaurant operators of violating federal labor laws by underpaying workers at its popular eateries across the country.

The lawsuit accuses the Orlando, Florida-based company of failing to pay federally mandated minimum wages and forcing its waiters and waitresses to work “off-the-clock” before or after their shifts.

Filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, it also claims many Darden employees have failed to receive appropriate overtime wages for work in excess of 40 hours per week.

Seems like an odd company to be promoting, no?

*** UPDATE 2 *** The governor’s press office says there were no state incentives.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Greg Hinz

Uber Technologies Inc., is keeping an informal political deal it had struck with Gov. Pat Quinn and, as a result, Chicago will be getting hundreds of new Midwest headquarters jobs.

The big ride-sharing firm today announced that it will add 420 jobs to its Central Region headquarters in Chicago by the end of 2016, more than quadrupling the number of non-driving staffers it has here now.

Uber had dangled the possibility of such jobs while Mr. Quinn was considering signing a bill that Yellow, Checker and other conventional cab companies had been pushing to impose tighter rules on companies that dispatch vehicles via cell phone apps. And now that Mr. Quinn has done so, the company says it’s moving ahead.

“When policy makers do their homework, they soon learn that we offer access to a safer ride for everyone and bring a number of benefits to cities including higher incomes for drivers, service to neighborhoods and taxi companies ignore and fewer drunk driving incidents,” Uber Central Regional Andrew MacDonald said in a joint press conference with a beaming Mr. Quinn.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - walker - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:05 am:


  2. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    This isn’t some sort of fake press-release, guerilla-marketing tactic from Olive Garden’s pr shop? My mistake.

  3. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    There’s an Olive Garden in Lincolnwood Town Center, just across McCormick Boulevard from Chicago.

  4. - 4 percent - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Wow… I’m shocked that the Governor would support an evil corporation that in 2011 implemented a mandatory tip-out program which enabled them to cut more employees’ hourly wage to $2.13 an hour.

    Secondly, in October 2012, Olive Garden became one of the first national restaurant chains to test converting most of its staff to part-time, aiming to limit the cost of paying for health care benefits for full-time employees to avoid Obamacare.

    So, Governor Quinn is supporting a corporation that CUT the wages of low income workers while also cutting their hours so that they couldn’t get health care? Shocking and appalling.

  5. - Conservative Republican - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:09 am:


    I guess Quinn is writing off the Italian American vote!


    Quinn extolling Olive Garden is appropriate in so many ways, I don’t know where to begin. A match made in heaven anyway.

    Illinois deserves better than Olive Garden Government!

  6. - phocion - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    And in a separate press release, Governor Quinn announced a new shoe shine stand will open in Terminal 3 at O’Hare.

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    Clearly you don’t understand Pat Quinn. He’s genuinely jazzed about this. We’re lucky he didn’t do this about his favorite place, Red Lobster. Oy vey.

    I can just hear the conversation:

    PQ: I’m so excited about Olive Garden finally coming to Chicago. Grant, let’s put out a release.

    GK: Governor, I’m not sure this announcement is big enough to warrant your attention. It might diminish you.

    PQ: Grant, I love this place. Let’s make the Land of Lincoln more friendly and make this announcement.

    GK: Ok, governor. {slinks away}

  8. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    What’s next: is PQ going to show up at the ribbon cutting for the opening of a new Jiffy Lube in Centralia? If he does, will he bring his Harold Washington easel?

  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    Clearly, Quinn has been bought off by the international breadstick cartel.

  10. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    Olive Garden?

    A naked appeal to collar-county voters.

    – MrJM

  11. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    Maybe the gov could build up his downstate credentials by attending the next Casey’s General Store opening in IL.

  12. - OneMan - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    Finally the people of Chicago good and true can gorge themselves on breadsticks…

    When the governor gets involved in new Olive Garden opening you know your state has some job creation issues…

  13. - 47th Ward - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    Anybody know where exactly on Addison?

    Mmmmm. unlimited breadsticks…

  14. - Jeepster - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    This is what happens when you live on minimum wage and load up on Olive Garden’s bread sticks several days in a row.

  15. - OneMan - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    How much government support do you need to open an Olive Garden? Also notice they give the governor a shout-out but not Rahm….

  16. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    Next he will celebrate the opening of a Sizzler in River North.

  17. - LizPhairTax - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    The Hospitaliano! voters are being courted. When you’re here, you’re family!

    Someone in Chicago needs to hire Amanda Vinicky. Consistently one of the more entertaining political reporters around without sacrificing substance. Would be a substantial upgrade for many Chicago outlets.

  18. - LizPhairTax - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    47, in the KMart parking lot across from Mirabell (seriously good German food) slightly east of the expy

  19. - Walter Mitty - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    I quit. I want to believe in something. The new guy bringing in new ideas… The old guy finding some magic the last month and make him govern better.. He has an ad that unites us! Then…an hour later. Olive Garden. Seriously, you can’t make this up. Rich, I finally have you figured out. You collect the issues and comments and will be selling this to a studio to have the most successful television series of all time. Genius. I suggest George Clooney as Rich Miller. Brad Pitt as Oswego Willy. They will take a TV series as it’s the juiciest script ever.

  20. - Steve - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    How exciting. 170 jobs. It must mean Chicago is going to add population and jobs and take out those 1950’s highs.

  21. - Illinoise - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    170 jobs? It must be a really, really big Olive Garden

  22. - AC - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    I knew the long nightmare of effective and relevant communications from Quinn had to end eventually, I’m surprised it lasted this long. At least he doesn’t have a mascot for the Olive Garden expansion, like Peter the Pasta.

  23. - Anon. - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    Is the Governor identifying himself with a potential scandal? It’s only 3 weeks since Starboard Value (an investor in Darden, Olive Garden’s owner) issued a 300-page memo criticizing the implementation of the unlimited breadsticks policy, among other things. Or maybe the Governor senses a kindred spirit in anyone who could write a memo that long and rambling?

  24. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    Its not much, but its an Olive Garden

    I beg your pardon
    Its not much, but its an Olive Garden
    Along with All You Can Eat
    You can have some wine and a dessert that’s sweet

    When I campaign, nothing is really too small
    To let go
    I beg your pardon
    It not much, but its an Olive Garden

    I could promise you things that prosperity brings
    But you don’t find my policies bringing business over
    So we’ve got on-line poker

    Well if a promise or two, could make it come true
    I had given our state leadership that could have mattered
    Open your eyes, its tattered

    So smile for a while and watch my tricks
    Enjoy the pasta and endless breadsticks
    Come along and share the good times while we can

    I beg your pardon
    Its not much, but its an Olive Garden
    Along with the Peroni beer
    You can listen to my new Rauner smear!

  25. - LizPhairTax - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    Illinoise, when you’re trying to keep everyone below the hours threshold for benefits the head count adds up

  26. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    == 170 ==

    What’s the seating capacity? /s

  27. - OneMan - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    If there were incentives the commercial kind of writes itself…

  28. - Carhart Representative - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    The wait is over and Chicago’s long nightmare has finally come to an end. I’m assuming the City Club of Chicago will be moving their events to the new Olive Garden to take advantage of the unlimited bread sticks.

  29. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Quinn was just worried no one would ever find out.

  30. - East Central Illinois - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    I can see the Rauner opposition ad now: “Quinn’s backing of new Olive Garden drives out local mom and pop Italian eateries. Quinn hates the ‘little man’.”

  31. - 47th Ward - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    ===Peter the Pasta===

    Tony the Tortellini? Louis the Linguini? Mostaccolli Mike?

  32. - Walter Mitty - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    I even remember the issue when it came up. Not the specifics.. Just a recollection that some of the big chains were going to cut hours to avoid Obama care. How does this get released? Rich does a 30 second Google search. PQ has nobody doing the basics? This is no different than whispering in your candidates ear. This response ad should be articulate and on TV. Flash the quotes of the company… And Pat’s picture and promoting this. You can’t have it both ways…Foolish and lack of homework. You gave ammo to your enemy.

  33. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    To the update -

    Ouch. The Governor had better hope there were no incentives to Olive Garden or Darden Restaurants involved.

    Those ads will write themselves.

  34. - East Central Illinois - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    Quinn just stepped in “it” again. Big time. He is trying to say that he helps promote this jobs creation endeavor when he just helped to bring up the part-time job issue, minimum wage issue, etc. I don’t want to vote for either Quinn or Rauner, and Quinn isn’t making this any easier to swing votes his way when he keeps fumbling around like this.

  35. - OneMan - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    Without incentives, what exactly did he have to do with it at all?

    Did he say he would buy one of those all you can eat passes?

  36. - Walter Mitty - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    The Bumbler strikes again…

  37. - Judgment Day - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    To: Pat Quinn

    Re: Opening Restaurants

    There’s a new Red Robin Gourmet Burgers opening in North Riverside. Might want to see if you can fit it into your busy schedule.

  38. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    170 jobs at Olive Garden. Of course, where do you think all the IDOT staff assistants are going?

  39. - Mokenavince - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    I can get my Eye-talian fix now from minimum wage cooks, waiters and staff. How lovely. Quinn must be getting free bread sticks for life.

  40. - wak - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Earlier today I was thinking with the nice positive ad and then the negative ad with the gift cards that the campaign seemed to be hitting a stride and then I see this…?!

  41. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    –Quinn just stepped in “it” again. Big time.–

    Leo Burnett himself couldn’t make anything “big time” out of this, positive, negative or indifferent.

    That’s kind of the point.

  42. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Too bad they weren’t open a few weeks ago.

    The Governor could have eaten there while taking his == minimum wage challenge ==, then held a press conference outside to speak about how difficult it was ordering water instead of ice tea.

  43. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    Let’s get that woman from the Dakotas to review it.

  44. - Pete - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    Seems like an odd company to be promoting, no?
    I’d hate to be the PR director that didn’t do their homework on this one.

    “I expect accountability from those who are secretaries or directors of departments,”

  45. - Team Sleep - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    I know Quinn has been on a roll lately, but this proves that both candidates have handlers and staff who drop the breadstick, er, ball.

  46. - Team Sleep - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    Hmm. Two bread-related puns in a reply about Olive Garden. My dad would be proud. :)

  47. - Responsa - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    Not to give him undue credit but perhaps the governor has realized that most normal consumers of restaurant food do not make their choice of where to eat based primarily on what the parent company’s business views are –and understands that local jobs matter to most people much more than political posturing.

  48. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    Thanks for posting the full release, Rich. Over-under on when the governor’s office will take it down is 4 p.m.

  49. - Ahoy! - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    From the Press Release: “New Restaurant Bringing 170 Jobs, Never-Ending Pasta Bowl and Unlimited Breadsticks to Help Feed Illinois’ Growing Workforce”

    Seriously? It took me about 6 minutes to post this, 5 1/2 minutes bent over laughing hysterically and then 30 seconds to post. This is so ridiculous it looks like a spoof, the fact that it’s real makes it hilarious.

  50. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    I’m sure Olive Garden always does the right thing.

  51. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 3:56 pm:

    Has Michelle Flaherty won a golden horseshoe for commenter of the year?

    If not, MF must be up there with MrJM. Both have been consistently good for years, and both work well under pressure. They can have a quality one-liner up and running before most people finish reading a post.

  52. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 4:30 pm:

    he is trying to ram a stick down voters throats (bread sticks)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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