Does Olive Garden Take Reservations?

Last Updated on July 20, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

Olive Garden does take reservations in some locations, while others operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are typically recommended for larger groups or during peak dining hours to reduce wait times. Customers can make reservations online through the restaurant’s website or by calling the specific Olive Garden location. However, it’s essential to check with the nearest Olive Garden or their website for the most up-to-date information on reservation policies as they may have changed after my last update.

Do You Need A Reservation To Dine At Olive Garden?

Olive Garden is an Italian cuisine restaurant with over 800 branches worldwide. You do not need a reservation to dine at the Olive Garden as they serve their clients on a first-come, first-serve basis. On special occasions, like birthdays or other events, they allow customers to make reservations provided they meet their set conditions. The first condition is the number of guests followed by the day of the reservation. At Olive Garden, they have a minimum number of guests required. Your reservation must strictly be on a weekday and not on Friday evening or the weekend.

What Are The Requirements For Making A Reservation At Olive Garden?

Since 2010 olive garden restaurant chains do not offer reservations through online systems. Making reservations with them requires you to call them. Alternatively, you can stop by the restaurant if you have the time to do so. 

Your event must be huge for you to make a reservation at olive garden,  as they do not give in to small parties. The minimum number of guests depends on location. For example, Olive Garden, located in Grand Central Avenue, West Virginia, requires at least eight guests, whereas the one in New York City involves a capacity of 10 to 12 guests. 

Olive Garden chain of restaurants’ reservation days is only during the weekend, depending on the chain location. They allow you to make a reservation any time on weekdays except for dinner hours on Fridays. Their weekend bookings are prohibited for all places where customers are seated and served on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Another note to consider when planning to book at Olive Garden is that there is no limit on the number of days required to request a slot. You can do it on the same day of the event or months in advance. After that, you can provide the restaurant with essential information, such as the expected number of guests.

 It would also be best to include details like any exceptional cases of members or children at the party who might require handicapped accessible tables or booster chairs for kids. Cases of special diet people like vegetarians are also vital information that should not be left out to help them serve and accommodate your guests better.

When booking at olive gardens, always enquire about the ingredients used, especially for vegetarians. Some of their soups contain beef or chicken broth. For this reason, always be kind to ask so that you can have a better experience. On birthdays, they allow you to bring your cake. Some will enable you to come with your bottle of wine provided you made it clear when giving your booking details.

What Should You Do Before Making A Reservation At The Olive Garden?

Planning for a home event is not like taking a walk in the park. You are required to design many things, from house arrangements to food, and after-party chores, which could be tiresome and time-consuming. For this reason, many people have opted to take their parties and events to restaurants by making reservations which enables you to live on your budget. You are also able to take care of every planning bit despite having a tight schedule. Making a reservation at Olive Garden or in any other restaurant for a dining experience involves a short process that includes:

Decide On The Olive Garden Restaurant Branch.

There are over 200 olive garden restaurant chains in America. Choosing the location of your preferred restaurant should be the first thing you do. It helps you consider the area that best suits all your guests and yourself too. Also, some olive garden branches have different offers, making it easier for you to select the chain with offers to best suit your event. For example, you can go for one offering free cakes and desserts if you plan on a birthday event.

Decide On The Number Of Guests.

The first question you are asked the minute you call in at olive garden is the number of guests they will be expecting. Most chains have a limit on this number. For instance, olive gardens in Grand Central Avenue, West Virginia, have a minimum of 10 guests. Most restaurants are strict on the number of guests to ensure they prepare enough food for both reservations and regular walk-in customers.

As the guest, olive garden advises you to book extra seats even if some of your guests cancel on you before the event. They say that it is better to have free space than to have fewer seats or a crowded area at a single table.

Set The Date And Time Of Your Reservation

After confirming the number of guests and the location of your selected olive garden, choose a date that falls on a weekday since they do not take weekend reservations. The best time to book is during the off-hours instead of the prime time hours like breakfast, dinner, or lunchtime when the restaurant is packed. When making a reservation at Olive Garden, ensure you have a backup date if your selected chain location is unavailable at your original time and day.

How Olive Garden Wait List Works

Olive Garden uses a waitlist system to manage customer seating during busy hours. Here’s how the Olive Garden waitlist typically works:

  1. Joining the Wait List
    • Upon arrival at Olive Garden, you can put your name on the waitlist by visiting the host stand or using the Olive Garden app.
    • The host will ask for your name, party size, and contact information to keep you informed about the status of your table.
  2. Estimated Wait Times
    • Olive Garden provides estimated wait times based on several factors, such as current restaurant occupancy and the size of parties ahead of you.
    • These wait times are helpful in managing expectations and allowing customers to plan their time accordingly.
  3. Getting Notified
    • Once you put your name on the waitlist, you will receive a text message notification confirming your registration.
    • Whenever your table is ready, you will receive another text message to let you know that it’s time to be seated.
  4. Priority Seating
    • Olive Garden offers a Priority Seating program for customers who want to reduce their wait times further.
    • By making a reservation online or through the Olive Garden app, you can add your name to the waitlist in advance, prioritizing your seating.
  5. Online Check-In
    • Olive Garden also provides an online check-in option for Priority Seating customers.
    • This feature allows you to check in virtually before arriving at the restaurant, further minimizing waiting times.
  6. Wait-Time Optimization
    • Olive Garden continuously monitors its seating availability to ensure efficient table turnover.
    • The waitlist system helps them optimize wait times and improve the overall dining experience for customers.
  7. Bar Seating Option
    • If you are open to sitting at the bar, Olive Garden offers the option to select bar seating when putting your name on the waitlist.
    • Bar seating can often provide a quicker dining experience, especially for smaller parties.
  8. Notifications for Dine-In
    • Olive Garden’s waitlist system is primarily designed for customers who prefer to dine in the restaurant.
    • For takeout or curbside pickup orders, it is recommended to check directly with the restaurant for specific instructions.

What Happens When You Make A Birthday Reservation At The Olive Garden?

By making a reservation at olive garden, they can customize a few things to make your party more enjoyable. They come up with things like serenades and free dessert options. The best way for them to do something special on your birthday is by signing up for the olive garden e-club. 

You are treated as part of their family; hence there will be great offers for you, including particular messages and reminders of your birthday. They also offer you a unique appetizer and soup, and sometimes a mini chocolate cake is sent out to your guests. The cake usually comes along with some singing by the house.

What Are Some Of The Tips You Can Use During a Reservation At A Restaurant?

When dealing with restaurant staff, there are a few things to consider. Some of these include;

Be courteous on your reservation calls: The attitude we use on the phone goes a long way and can be used to decide whether you will get the reservation or not. During the call, ensure to be polite and kind to the staff. Do not show that you are entitled to the reservation; hence it would be better to make your requests nicely. For example, if you are told that there is no available slot, politely ask for other possible accommodation choices.

In case you run late, consider calling ahead of time. After securing a reservation, remember that your service provision is far from over. It is essential to keep communicating with the Olive Garden restaurant staff not to give away your slot. You can call to reschedule or cancel your reservations if you happen to be unavailable for the scheduled date. Some things are inevitable, such as accidents and deaths, which may cause postponing of events, leading to canceling reservations. It is essential to keep time for reservations since your delay affects other people which could damage the reputation of the Olive Garden chain of restaurants.

Call ahead of time. Even though olive garden allows you to book a reservation on the same day of your event, it wouldn’t cost you much to call ahead. Making earlier reservations gives them ample time to customize your services. You are likely to get better services when you make prior bookings compared to impromptu calls. If the nature of your event allows, you can do that months or weeks earlier.

Call frequently, especially if you booked weeks or months earlier. Double-checking your prior booked reservation does not translate to being a nuisance. It only means you are concerned to ensure there are no problems, and in case of any, you will get a chance to solve them before the event. Doing this also helps you to give fine details, especially those that might have been left out.

Always arrive earlier than the set time. You can sit at the arrival area as you wait for your slot time, where you are expected to pass by the restaurant hostess so that they do not skip over your reservation. Some busy restaurants cancel the reservation and hand it over the table to other customers if you run late without communication. By arriving early, you might help the house set up the table to your desired choice and give the final touches to the set-up.

Does Olive Garden Take Reservations For Large Parties?

Olive Garden does take reservations for large parties at some of its locations. Reservations are recommended for groups that exceed the normal capacity of the restaurant or during peak dining hours to ensure accommodation and reduce wait times. When making a reservation for a large party, it’s best to call the specific Olive Garden location directly to inquire about availability and make arrangements.

However, it’s important to note that reservation policies and availability may vary depending on the restaurant and could have changed since my last update, so it’s advisable to check with the nearest Olive Garden or their website for the most up-to-date information regarding reservations for large parties.


In recent times, people prefer to eat out instead of having a homemade meal which could be tiresome, especially for people who spend the entire day working. It is the same case with parties where most people prefer booking slots in restaurants instead of setting up and preparing meals at their homes. Olive Garden gives you the chance to make such a reservation provided you have at least eight guests for the party. They also only do so during weekdays as their policies discourage Friday evening and weekend bookings.