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Feb 4, 2014 12:26 PM

Olive Garden wants to pay your date night babysitting tab

While its not where I would want to go on a "date night" I can see the appeal for their customer base.


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  1. I don't see the terms in the article, does your baby sitter have to accept bread sticks as payment?

    2 Replies
    1. re: jrvedivici

      Ah c'mon man, two tiny paragraphs and you didn't see the terms? lol.

      "The chain Italian-inspired food spot has teamed up with various MyGym centers across the country to offer drop-off child care on Friday, Feb. 7. Parents are required to leave a deposit at the participating center, but will get it back when they show their Olive Garden dinner bill."

      1. re: DuchessNukem

        Ha, my bad. I think when it down loaded I didn't scroll below the picture, sorry.

    2. So, at Olive Garden, where it had been "all about family," it is now all about abandoning your family at the MyGym.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MagicMarkR

        I was wondering the same thing. OG is a family restaurant chain, what gives is a good question.

        1. re: MagicMarkR

          Leaving your kids with someone for a couple of hours so you can have an actual adult conversation is abandonment? Apparently I have quite an extensive criminal history. None of it involved the Olive Garden though.

          1. re: ErnieD

            I think it's a great idea. Affordable and accessible in areas which have a My Gym location. The kids have a blast and the parents get an hour or so of quiet to talk to each other without paying an arm and a leg for a babysitter. You can say whatever you want about OG food, and I've never been a huge fan, but this seems like a nice, affordable idea.

        2. I'll do it, if Olive Garden will also pay for my dinner. At some other restaurant.

          1. According to the link, you leave a deposit on your children when you drop them off so you're sure to retrieve them, what? And, you can share your photos on social media to help do what exactly spread the word? Join the club?

            What's the liability on this kinda thing? MyGym and OG have some sort of joint contract over any mishaps? What if your child and another child don't get along? They don't know each other (like a toddler class or preschool setup).

            19 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              I would assume you sign the standard release form that everyone signs when they take their kids to MyGym. I'm sure there will always be some douchecanoe that is getting something for free that wants to file a lawsuit.

              1. re: Firegoat

                Or your kids don't happen to like being dropped off and playing in a room of kids they don't know with people they don't know monitoring the behavior.

                Sorry, I'd be hesitant to have my toddler be a guinea pig for a $25.00 meal.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Then don't take them. Simple as that. OG isn't forcing anyone to do this.

                  1. re: Firegoat

                    I fully understand that. Food for thought though.

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Only if she has fewer teeth than fingers.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I think it would really depend on the age of my child.
                      But they also have free sitting for classes at the YMCA and it doesn't seem as weird to me for some reason. Maybe because I haven't left the premisis?

                      1. re: melpy

                        I would imagine people that already use My Gym would be the most likely to take advantage of the special. But who knows, MyGym might get some new customers out of the bargain and be a win-win thing.

                        1. re: melpy

                          If this thread is any indication it's about comfort level for sure. But kids are unpredictable. I hope someone goes so we can hear all about it. So many food places have tried to address keeping children occupied and quiet(er) during their family dining experience over the years. Some work, some don't. If I'm being honest, and I'm way past the toddler years, I wouldn't be comfortable and therefore wouldn't be able to enjoy date night. I'd have a sitter hired and my hubby would be working on a surprise reservation.

                        2. re: HillJ

                          look, until you actually try a child care place, it's truly a crap shoot to some degree.

                          when i sent my 6 year old daughter to YMCA summer day camp it turned out to be a horror show.
                          (she's 23 now, so this was a long time ago).
                          at the time, my thinking was: "YMCA MUST know what they are doing. they've been doing this for years. i haven't heard anything BAD about them."

                          as it turned out, they completely lost track of her for 6 hours. she was huddled up on the ground near the exit gate waiting for me to come and get her FOR SIX HOURS.
                          this kind of thing can happen ANYWHERE.

                          a similar incident happened at her (public) elementary school when she was in 1st grade. she and two other girls didn't hear the counselor calling for them to come inside, so the three of them stayed out on the playground, unmonitored. when i came to pick her up, nobody had any idea where she was.

                          i learned that none of these places do regular head counts.
                          now, as an adult and as an EMT she has had jobs caring for kids in summer camps. she may be one of the few counselors that compulsively takes head counts.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            My kids' daycare does do regular head counts on outings (I've seen it when I volunteered). Plus the kids all wear daycare tshirts so they can be readily identified - even when swimming. But yeah, stuff happens. Just last month here, first day of school after Xmas, a kindergarten kid got on the wrong bus and went to the wrong school. His parents and police were frantic all day once they realized he hadn't shown up at School A, but it took all day to realize he *was* at School B, where apparently he just blended in with some other new students???? I think I would have PTSD if I were those parents.

                            1. re: westsidegal


                              This couple from Pasadena CA used the offer and here's the report. Not much a detail but I wasn't under the initial impression this was a national offer. Video had more detail than the article.

                              Anyone from CH use the offer in their local area?

                              1. re: HillJ

                                My understanding was that it was a national offer only in markets that had both an Olive Garden and a My Gym.

                        3. re: HillJ

                          My Gym franchises already operate Parents Night Out programs, camps, etc. so I'm pretty sure they have their business model figured out IN RE liability issues.

                          IIRC, for the PNO program, you leave a credit card deposit when you sign your kid in so the fact that Olive Garden is paying the tab probably doesn't affect the check in process.

                          1. re: tcamp

                            If anyone from CH tries this out, please report back. Would love to read about a first hand experience.

                            1. re: tcamp

                              I think it's also likely that since OG is doing this only where MyGym franchises are located, parent that choose to use this service have probably been patrons of MyGym previously. And probably happy to get a free visit. They can always smuggle some breadsticks out in mom's purse...

                              1. re: Firegoat

                                Was this only advertised in one local area? I thought this was a national chain offer/ad.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  It is but generally, MyGyms are located in suburban areas where there are also Olive Gardens. So the likelihood of the kid having already been to a MyGym (especially since they do birthday parties etc) is pretty high in areas like that.

                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    I see. And now I also see as Fireg pointed out this (for now anyway) is being offered for one day. I hope we hear some first hand feedback on this thread. The restaurant will be free of children's voices and myGym will be a packed house?!

                          2. This is interesting. I can see a lot of parents interested in this arrangement. I wonder if there's a time limit. I can see some folks dropping off their kids super early, going to Olive Garden to get the receipt, running errands, hitting a bar, going back home for some loud sex and then picking up the kids right before the babysitting place closes. There's a local gym by me that offers two hours of free babysitting to gym members while they use the facilities. I've heard that many people just drop off their kids at the gym and use that time for some "me time" rather than for working out.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              my understanding is it is a one day event on Feb. 7. Reports from many venues that have myGym say they are booked.

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                I would imagine most Olive Gardens have the time stamped on the receipt. I"d like to assume most people are somewhat honest

                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  A neighbor owns a pottery studio in a very walker friendly town and some parents treated the studio as if it was a preschool. Drop, shop & return. The neighbor had to put a sign on the wall to address the issue.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    My friend was working in a mall toy store and realized a young child had been left alone in the play area. Terrified the child had been abandoned or worse she called the police etc... eventually the parents came wandering back, from dinner. The police assured her there would be follow up on this family. Can you imagine?!?!
                                    I've left my kids at the IKEA playroom (and they were thrilled about it). I've even heard of stay at home parents who plan IKEA trips just to let the kids play and have lunch without them. So the only issue I have with this is Olive Garden ;)

                                    1. re: julesrules

                                      Ah, memories of kids in the IKEA playroom...

                                      DH and I would have to shop FAST as our buzzer typically went off w/in 20 minutes of leaving the playroom. DS1 felt the place was "too germy" and would sit in a corner, which disturbed the minders. And DS2 usually ended up in a wrestling match with the biggest kid (boy) there, which also disturbed the minders. Good times.

                                      1. re: tcamp

                                        Ha :)
                                        I have girls. They are not angels by any means but sometimes can pull out a sweet and adorable act for public consumption... not as often as I'd like them to ;)
                                        We once went out for lunch at a cute country diner. My girls were PERFECT. And, adorable. 20 month old ordering her own ice cream and flirting with the next table, a young couple beaming away at us clearly envisioning their future. I so wanted to stop by their table and whisper, "It's a trick and don't fall for it... this is the nicest meal out we've had as a family in 5 years".

                                      2. re: julesrules

                                        The last time I was @ Wegman's there were police at the kids play area and a great deal of hysteria. I have no idea how common that is but all I could think about was: if you can't food shop with your child, wait until Dad comes home.