Olive Garden planned for mall

December 21, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HALFWAY - Local economic development officials can finally say what many residents have long wanted to hear: An Olive Garden Italian Restaurant is coming to Washington County.

Valley Mall said in a written statement Wednesday that the restaurant will be built on mall property at the site of the Firestone Tire and Service Center.

Area residents have been craving an Olive Garden for quite some time, Debbie Everhart, economic development coordinator for the City of Hagerstown, said in a written statement. She and Timothy Troxell, executive director of Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, consistently field phone calls from residents "wondering when we're going to get an Olive Garden ..." she said in the statement.

"In fact, it's probably one of the most frequent requests we hear," she said.

The restaurant hopes to open at the end of October 2007 or early in November 2007, Media Relations Manager Mara Frazier said Wednesday.


"We've actually been working on this project for a number of years, and now that all the approvals are complete, we're thrilled to be able to make this announcement," Julie Rohm, Valley Mall assistant general manager, said in the statement issued by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

A new Firestone will be built behind the mall near Country Inn and Suites. Once the business has relocated, the existing building will be torn down and Olive Garden will be built, according to the CVB statement.

Olive Garden restaurants usually employ about 150 people, Frazier said.

CVB President Tom Riford said he thinks residents and visitors to the area will appreciate having an Olive Garden in the county.

Olive Garden, owned by Darden Restaurants Inc., is based in Orlando, Fla. It operates 584 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, and employs more than 70,000 people, according to

The average annual sales per restaurant is $4.6 million, and the restaurant had $2.6 billion in sales in fiscal year 2006, according to the Web site.

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