Turlock could soon be home to a little Hospitaliano – and those famous never-ending breadsticks, soups, salads, and pastas – as the Olive Garden Italian restaurant considers expanding to the city’s Monte Vista Crossings shopping center.
“The Olive Garden is moving forward,” said Steve Hale, a permit expeditor with the project.
The new restaurant is planned for 2701 Countryside Dr., a currently vacant site just south of the existing Kohl’s. Planning documents call for the construction of a new, freestanding Olive Garden restaurant, plus the related parking and landscaping.
Hale expects the project will break ground this winter, opening about six months later. While opening is still a while off, Hale estimates that the restaurant will feature about 250 seats, and will employ about 25 people per shift.
Founded in 1982 and part of Darden Restaurants, Inc. – owners of Red Lobster and four other restaurants – the Olive Garden operates more than 730 restaurants, claims more than 86,000 employees, and generates more than $3 billion in annual sales. Each restaurant averages $4.7 million in annual sales as the chain entertains more than 3.3 million guests each week.
Currently, Darden Restaurants operates three Olive Gardens within 50 miles of Turlock – in Modesto, Tracy and Stockton.
Restaurant start of Monte Vista Crossings expansion
The development also marks the first phase of the planned Monte Vista Crossings South, an expansion to the existing shopping center which at one point was to include a new Walmart Supercenter – long since scrapped, following litigious council action to ban such superstores in 2004.
“This is just the first piece of it to come in,” said Adrienne Werner, a planner with the City of Turlock.
Werner does not expect any problems with the Olive Garden project going forward, as the standalone development is slated for a previously-planned restaurant pad in Monte Vista Crossings South. That southern expansion – featuring a mix of retail and dining similar to the existing center –has already received development entitlements from the City of Turlock, issued when the shopping center was first approved.
Walnut Creek-based Hall Equities Group, which owns the 140-acre Monte Vista Crossings, did not return calls for comment on this story. The group’s website proclaims the south expansion “will include more nationally recognized retailers that will further establish Monte Vista Crossings as the top shopping destination in the region.”
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