What's it like to eat Olive Garden fare 60 times in a month?
Robbie Porter should know. The 25-year old Fremont, California, resident has chowed down on the Italian chain's fare twice a day on average for the past month after securing a Never Ending Pasta Pass.
He's one of 1,000 people who snagged the pass for $100—a promotion that entitles him to an unlimited number of certain pasta entrees and toppings from Sept. 22 to Nov. 9.
"I'm still enjoying it, but obviously I'm doing it for a cause" (to raise awareness of Crohn's disease), Porter said by phone. "It's not as bad as people think. It's decent, but I wouldn't say it's spectacular."
While Porter isn't tired of Olive Garden, he said it's difficult to find time to go since it's not convenient to his office.
Porter's quest started as an office joke because the Credit.com sales operations manager is known as someone who loves to eat.
"I decided I couldn't just go and have a gluttonous time," he said. "I actually had to do something positive with it."
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Instead, he's using the publicity to raise money for research for Crohn's disease, an inflammatory disease that targets the digestive tract. Porter, who has suffered from Crohn's for five years, notes that many people tend to avoid discussing it in public. (Read more about Porter's experience and his fundraising efforts on his blog here.)
So far, Porter estimates he's eaten about $800 worth of Olive Garden food and spent about $20 (yes, $20) in tips for the meals, which he gets mostly via takeout.
He said while one location he visited is "warm and welcoming," another has been "on and off" with employees who are occasionally rude. But the company has always gotten his order correct, and wait times have been in line with estimates.
He did note one problem: the salt.
"I've pretty much enjoyed it," he said. "There have been some times when the sauces have been too salty. Overall they've been pretty consistent with the quality, but I wouldn't say it's like a hometown Italian restaurant that makes everything from scratch."
So far, his carb loading hasn't caused the scale or his cholesterol to rise. In fact, Porter's having the opposite experience as he's balanced out the pasta fests with daily workouts.
"Interestingly enough, I lost 2 pounds," he said, adding that he's lowered his fat intake.
The toughest moment of the challenge so far?
"For me and my fiancée's anniversary, we went down to Carmel and there aren't any Olive Gardens," he said. "I didn't want to take Olive Garden (to Carmel) so I woke up at 6:30 a.m. in the morning to eat Olive Garden from the day before."
While the same co-workers who helped Porter secure a Pasta Pass have grown tired of watching him eat it, Porter said he'd even return once the promotion ends.
"I'd be fine going back the next day," he said with a laugh. "My fiancée is another story. She says she can't step back in there again."