ME TOO. Grew up in rural Missouri, Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday’s were fancy, and neither of which were anywhere nearby, so driving there was an EVENT.
I also wonder if commercials were a part of this. I learned so much about the non-rural-Missouri-world from television and magazines (until the internet happened) and commercials made Olive Garden sound like the fanciest thing.
ALSO also, I seriously think those chains were a lil’ fancier back in the ’90s. We dressed up to eat there, and the tables weren’t permanently sticky. That kind of thing.