Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Darden Restaurant Co. to Build Two Restaurants

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Darden Restaurant Co. to Build Two Restaurants

Article excerpt

GMRI, a wholly owned Darden Restaurant company, has bought property and requested permits to build two new sites in the metro area.

The company acquired more than 21,000 square feet in the 50 Penn Place east parking lot for $925,000 to build an Olive Garden restaurant. Construction costs are estimated at $950,000 for the 7,700-square-foot building, which should be completed in early 2005. Olive Garden will seat 215 and employ about 125 people.

Darden Restaurant also plans to construct a 7,000-square-foot Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill on W. Memorial Road. With its rustic lodge decor, the estimated $950,000 site would seat 250 and employ about 120. Construction for Smokey Bones is scheduled to begin Sept. 6, with an anticipated completion date in March.

According to Smokey Bones spokesperson Joe Chabus, the Quail Springs area is ideal for its chain, adding to its other two subsidiaries represented on Memorial's restaurant row - Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

The Quail Springs Mall is a strong draw for consumers, and we look for locations that are convenient for our guests, Chabus said. And as the area continues to grow in both residential and commercial locations, and the population is growing and retail establishment are growing, as well, we are confident that this location will be successful.

We look at the success that Red Lobster and Olive Garden have there, and they've attracted a loyal following over the years, so we feel that we'll be able to do well in the community.

Smokey Bones first opened its doors in 1999 in Orlando, and continued to expand across the eastern United States with two locations as far west as Missouri. This will be the first Smokey Bones in the state, and one of the first built west of the Mississippi River. Its menu prices are comparable to that of Olive Garden.

Florida-based Darden at present operates 10 restaurants in the metro area, including its Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains and Bahama Breeze.

Olive Garden spokesperson Steve Coe said the new restaurant at 50 Penn Place, or 1844 Northwest Expressway, will be built in a Tuscon Farmhouse design, modeled after its restaurant in Italy, with a stone exterior and extensive interior stone and woodwork.

Officials doubted the restaurant's footprint would put a crimp on parking at 50 Penn Place.

Terry Watson, the tower's property manager, said it now has 1,163 parking spaces available. Despite GMRI buying more than 21,000 square feet in the east parking lot, Watson said the 50 Penn parking lot will be reconfigured when the Olive Garden is completed to maintain 1,212 spaces. The retail and office tower is about 92 percent occupied. …

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