Union Township is one step closer to gaining an Olive Garden franchise restaurant.
The Township’s Planning Commission approved site plans for the restaurant Wednesday night, recommending construction directly south of Red Lobster, 4062 E. Bluegrass Rd..
Now awaiting approval by the Union Township Board of Trustees, the restaurant will provide seating for more than 200 people and an 87-space parking lot to be shared with the neighboring Red Lobster when needed.
Olive Garden and Red Lobster are both owned by Darden Restaurants, which also owns LongHorn Steakhouse, among other national chain restaurants.
Construction will begin as soon as the review process is finished, Jack DeGange, site development manager and Olive Garden representative, said.
“We usually start construction fairly quickly,” DeGange said.
The project should take around six months to complete, he said, including both construction and employee training.
“It’s a nice-looking building,” board member Rick McGuirk said. “(It is) a nice addition to the community.”
Having the restaurant positioned next to Red Lobster is no accident, DeGange said, calling the arrangement a part of a new trend in restaurant cooperation.
Another case of Red Lobster and Olive Garden teaming up occurred last summer in Brunswick, Ga., where the restaurants share both parking and an entire kitchen, DeGange said.
“That’s a very exciting design approach,” DeGange said, explaining that the combination of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains is what Darden calls a “synergy approach.”
Planning for the new restaurant started in December, when variances for signage and yard space were granted at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.
“There was really only one major concern,” Zoning Administrator William Woodruff said, referring to the Mount Pleasant Fire Department expressing concern over a barrier between the restaurant and the existing fire hydrant on the Red Lobster property.
As of Wednesday’s meeting, no items that would obstruct this path were included in the project details. The board concluded the issue was not major enough to withhold approval.
The project has been recommended to the Union Township Board of Trustees for final approval. They are slated to meet at the Union Township Hall, 2010 S. Lincoln Road, at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13.