ALBANY ALBANY — Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden, has filed an official site plan and a host of permits with the city of Albany's planning department, signaling its intention to bring the Italian restaurant to Northwest Albany.
According to the plans filed Thursday, the company wants to build a 7,537-square-foot restaurant at the corner of Westover Boulevard and Dawson Road at the existing site of the Inn at Albany Mall.
If the company clears the regulatory hurdles, the Albany restaurant will be the second planned Olive Garden in south Georgia. Darden announced earlier plans to build a restaurant in Valdosta.
In a statement to The Albany Herald, Umang and Milan Patel of Indusa Investments, the owners of the Inn at the Albany Mall, said Thursday that the decision to demolish the hotel to make way for the restaurant came after lengthy negotiations and that, at front of their minds, was the impact to their employees and customers.
"The decision to raze a $4 million dollar business was not taken lightly. Undertaking such a deal would have significant direct ramifications. At the forefront of this matter were the immediate job losses at the Inn at Albany Mall and Silverleaf restaurant businesses currently operating at the site," Umang Patel said.
"We assessed the deal from every perspective, and we strongly feel this transaction will greatly benefit the city of Albany, its residents, and its workforce at a most crucial economic time."
The Patels believe the Olive Garden deal will create 100 new jobs, with 200 new jobs expected to be generated over the life-cycle of the site.
Before the City Commission is a rezoning request that deals with the property. Additionally, city planning officials have 30 days to review the site plan and get it back to the principals so the process can move forward.
At some point, the City Commission will then have to consider approval of an alcohol license application for the restaurant.
Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who represents the northwest part of town where the restaurant will be built, said he liked the news and would encourage city staff to follow-through.
"It’s great news," Langstaff said. "I’m confident that (City Manager) Jim Taylor and the rest of the involved city staff will continue to do what it takes to make this development a reality."
In his statement, Milan Patel applauded local economic officials and city government for helping make the deal possible, though there are still some aspects that will have to be resolved.
"This venture was made possible through tremendous support and guidance from the people at the Albany (Dougherty) Economic Development (Commission) and the Albany Planning Department," Milan Patel said. "Albany is a pro-business town and supportive of bringing new development to this area. City leaders are progressive and do not let bureaucracy interfere with sound business judgment. Their collective efforts were instrumental in allowing us to court an Olive Garden development to our site and bring a great brand to a great city."
"Above all else, I would like to stress that this deal is full of contingencies that have to be satisfied prior to Olive Garden starting construction at our site. There are still many hurdles that have yet to be overcome before this deal is fully consummated," Milan Patel said.
Calls seeking comment from Darden Restaurants' Corporate offices weren't returned Thursday.