During Thursday evening’s Alcoa Planning Commission meeting, members heard site plans for the two restaurants – Olive Garden and Cheddar’s. Both restaurants will be located in the Hamilton Crossing shopping center near Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Cheddars will employee about 150 people, and Olive Garden will employee about 100 people, company representatives said.
Lee Greer with Greer Companies out of Lexington, Ky., is building the Cheddar’s restaurant. The building should be about 8,500 square feet.
“I’ve been looking at Alcoa for quite a long time. We really like to focus on retail areas, and the retail between Wal-Mart and the other businesses at Hamilton Crossing is very strong. We look at sales and traffic count. I don’t really focus on demographics as long as there are retail areas,” he said. “My favorite indicator is how other restaurants are doing. I can tell how we are going to do based on how they’re doing. It’s a strong community with strong retail."
Greer said they hoped to have the restaurant in late winter or early spring. “It usually takes four to five months once we put in footers,” he said. “If we get started in mid-September, I’d say we would open in February or March.”
Brett Mashchak, site development manager for Darden Restaurants out of Orlando, said the Olive Garden restaurant would be about 7,441 square feet and have about 244 seats. Atmosphere and good food are two of the qualities Olive Garden tries to bring to customers.
“I think it’s basic when you’re here you’re family. We live that everyday. We want you to come in and feel like you are at home and have a good Italian meal with people you know,” he said.
Planning commissioners Clarence Williams, Mary Baugues, Mayor Don Mull and Chair Bill Proffitt unanimously approved both site plans.
“I would like to reinforce our strong feelings in welcoming these two entities. Any community in the country would be happy to have them,” Proffitt said.
Mull said the city was thankful to have two restaurants such as Olive Garden and Cheddars locate in Alcoa.
“We know you’ll do a lot of businessn and we welcome you,” Mull said.
Assistant City Manager Bill Hammon said that recruiting businesses such as Olive Garden and Cheddar’s is along the lines of the “marching orders” the city commission gave them in looking for new businesses that would add value to the community.
Hammon praised those who work to bring the restaurants to town. “When I travel across the state, I find we are really fortunate because not a lot of communities have the relationship between the city commission, planning commission and operations staff where everyone is on the same page,” he said. “It makes this kind of work and effort easy for us.”