Olive Garden: the winner is NOT St. Augustine

After concerted efforts to lure Olive Garden to St. Augustine, it appears the company has selected another site for their next northeast Florida restaurant; Palm Coast.

Orlando based Darden Restaurants, Inc., is the world’s largest company-owned and operated restaurant chain with over $7 billion in annual sales and approximately 180,000 employees system wide.

In St. Augustine, the company already owns and operates the Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants on what some residents feel is an over-congested “restaurant row” at US 1 South and SR 312.

Through subsidiaries, the Company owns and operates more than 1,700 restaurants including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.

But last week, Darden made it official by filing their site plan and development order application with the City of Palm Coast.

Granted, we already have two Darden restaurants, but, many local businessmen and residents we asked who indicated that they eat out at least two to three times each week were disappointed to learn that Olive Garden is not in the cards.

The new Palm Coast restaurant will be a unique concept to the organization; it will be a combination Olive Garden / Red Lobster design. This dual restaurant is proposed to consist of a 9,710 square foot building containing separate seating areas, but sharing the kitchen and bar areas.

The project will be located at 5290 SR 100, which is within the Landings at Town Center Subdivision — just a few blocks off Interstate 95. The majority of restaurant chains in Palm Coast are built on Palm Coast Parkway off Interstate 95, but in the north-central part of the city. SR 100 is the major east-west corridor in the growing southern quadrant of the city and is underserved. Town Center is the site of the new EPIC 14 screen theatre with stadium style seating and Dolby Digital sound.

Soon St. Augustine residents will be able to choose to go north to Southside Boulevard in Jacksonville or south to SR 100 in Palm Coast when they have a craving for Olive Garden.

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