A North Carolina pastor is taking his Olive Garden's “Never Ending” Pasta Pass literally. Alan Martin has eaten at Olive Garden twice a day, every day, for the past 6 weeks, and has only spent $100 to do it.
The pass, sold in a limited quantity of 1,000 during a recent stunt by the beleaguered casual Italian dining chain, grants its bearers as much pasta, salad, soup, breadsticks and soft drinks as they can consume during the seven-week promotional period.
On November 5, Martin ate his 100th meal at the Olive Garden near his home, gluten-free rigatoni with spicy meat sauce and meatballs.
"I try something different every time,” said Alan Martin, who has now become something of a celebrity at the restaurant.
“I tried chasing him out the door,” said Burlington Olive Garden manager Jeremy Byrnes. “I just wanted to congratulate him. Mr. Martin's like part of the family now.”
So far Martin has eaten over $1,600 worth of food after paying $100 for the pass. His goal is to hit $1,800. Each meal has a value of about $16.
Getting through the first week was tough, even though Martin and his family love Olive Garden.
But by the second and third week, "I was craving it," said Martin. "I started getting there earlier and earlier."
Now, six weeks in and with days to go before the free pass runs out, "it’s hard eating other food,” he said.
Martin says he currently weighs 212, the same as when he started. To keep the pounds off his 5 foot 11 frame, he's kept up his weightlifting routine and watches the calorie count. The average Olive Garden pasta bowl with toppings is 500-600 calories, of which he usually eats half. Each breadstick is 180 calories. The salads can be another couple hundred depending on which you order.
"I just eat enough to knock out my appetite," said Martin.
His doctor doesn't know about the pasta diet yet, but Martin, who's been taking vitamins since beginning his campaign, isn't worried.
“I'm going to let him fix me if I'm broken,” he said.
Previously, Martin won free breakfast for a year at Chick-Fil-A.
“That whet my appetite for this kind of contest,” he said.
Martin confesses to feeling some trepidation after the pasta pass promotional period ends on November 9th.
"I have no idea what I'm going to eat for lunch Monday morning."