Olive Garden Prefers Strip Malls to Strippers | NBC New York

Olive Garden Prefers Strip Malls to Strippers



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    Playmate Kendra Wilkinson blows kisses to the Olive Garden, but they never come back.

    Hugh Hefner’s Playmate girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson loves the Olive Garden, but it is a love that goes unrequited.

    As one of the stars of the reality show ‘The Girls Next Door,’ which chronicles the exploits of Hefner’s three live-in girlfriends, Wilkinson regularly raves about how much she loves the Italian restaurant chain.

    But the Olive Garden, which has tried for years to brand itself as a family place, is troubled by Wilkinson’s endorsements. In fact, Olive Garden executives refused to talk to the Wall Street Journal about the Playboy star’s passion for their food.

    "I don't feel comfortable talking about this ... because it is a complicated issue for the brand," says Michele Kay, executive vice president of WPP Group's Grey advertising firm, which handles the Olive Garden account.

    Wilkinson is such a fan that in July Playboy.com created a website featuring "Girls of Olive Garden.” The site has photos and video of six of the chain’s employees sporting lingerie and sexed-up versions of their normal OG uniforms.

    "What people chose to do in their private lives is an individual decision," Mara Frazier, media relations manager for the chain, told the Daily News.

    "I don't speak about it to get paid for it," Wilkinson wrote on her MySpace page. "I speak about it because I love it. I understand they're a family restaurant, but I think it can't hurt them to have a little spice."