Even with all the home-grown mom and pop Italian restaurants here in the Utica/Rome area, the New Hartford location of the national chain Olive Garden still does very well.  Stop by their Commercial Drive restaurant any weekend evening and odds are you'll spend some time waiting for a table.

We have some little-know facts about the popular Italian chain that come from long time employees of the restaurant, and posted on popsugar.com.  Here are 7 Olive garden "secrets."

-Chicken Alfredo is the restaurant's most popular menu item.  Shrimp Scampi is also a very popular item at Olive garden.

-The Restaurant has a school in Italy.  Each year hundreds of managers and other employees are sent to Olive Garden's Culinary Institute in Tuscany.

-Olive Garden has been in business for 35 years.  The first one opened in Florida in 1982.

-The Soups are made fresh each day.  Each restaurant makes them from scratch each morning.

-Employees get big discounts.  For $1, team members can have unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks, and they get 50% off meals during their shift.

-Olive Garden will cater your large party.  Whether its an office party or wedding reception, the restaurant will all the food.

-Gluten-free pasta is available.  If you ask your server, they will see that your pasta is gluten-free.  You can also request that your Chicken Parmigiana be grilled instead of fried.

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