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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 23, 201412:00 PM EST

Olive Gardens expecting almost $1M makeover

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Three Jacksonville Olive Gardens are in line for an almost $1 million total makeover — a fire-damaged restaurant that will be rebuilt and two being remodeled.

The city is reviewing permit applications for a $500,000 rebuilt Olive Garden in Regency and for two $200,000 permits to renovate the Olive Gardens near Orange Park and at the Avenues to include a new design and new signage.

No contractor was listed for the project to rebuild the Regency Olive Garden at 9465 Atlantic Blvd. The restaurant was destroyed in January in a fire. It will be a 7,930-square-foot building, smaller than the first one, and will be part of the chain’s new prototype.

Olive Garden also intends to invest at least $400,000 to completely remodel two of its Jacksonville restaurants near Orange Park and at the Avenues. Completion is expected early next year.

It also will post new signage on its River City Marketplace location, which has the newer Tuscan Farmhouse prototype design.

The Regency, Orange Park area and Avenues restaurants were built in 1990-91. The fourth Olive Garden was built in 2009 in River City Marketplace in North Jacksonville.

The Avenues restaurant is at 10144 Philips Highway and the Orange Park area location is at 6050 Youngerman Circle, which is in Duval County.

Olive Garden has unveiled designs for the remodeled restaurants to be rolled out to more than 75 locations over the next year.

Olive Garden says the design includes removing walls to create a more open atmosphere; new décor in each dining area for a more “homelike” feel; a more modern lobby and bar area; flexible seating that better accommodates large parties; and more vibrant colors, fabrics and textures.

All restaurant signage in “remodel markets” will be converted to feature the new logo. It’s the first significantly revised logo in more than 15 years, the company said.

Darden Restaurants Inc. of Orlando owns the chain.

On Sept. 15, Fortune.com reported that Darden Restaurants is biting back at the investor group that issued a detailed report of complaints, which included charges that Olive Garden serves too many breadsticks, creating waste.

Fortune.com said Darden responded that its strategy conveys “Italian generosity.”

Fortune.com reported that Starboard Value LP disclosed a nearly 300-page slide presentation that gave details of a potential turnaround plan for Olive Garden. Starboard wants to overthrow the 12-director Darden board with a slate of its own. The annual shareholder meeting is scheduled Oct. 10.

Complaints included that Olive Garden was serving too many breadsticks, adding too much dressing to its salads, not serving enough alcohol and wasn’t adding salt to the water used to cook the pasta.

Darden responded that Starboard’s suggestions are “not based on reality,” Fortune.com said, and that its salads have the highest loyalty rating of any menu item based on the internal satisfaction surveys the company conducts.

And that’s where the remodeling might help. According to Fortune.com, Darden says alcohol sales are increasing, while the average check sizes are higher at remodeled locations.

“After reviewing Starboard’s proposed operating plan, we believe Darden’s current initiatives, which are already delivering encouraging results, address the majority of Starboard’s suggestions” said Gene Lee, Darden president and COO.

Still, as Darden touted Olive Garden’s new menu offerings, technology investments meant to speed up order-taking and satisfaction scores that are improving, recent results show the chain is still underperforming, said Fortune.com. U.S. same-store sales dropped 1.3 percent for the latest quarter.

Dunkin’ Donuts opens in North Jacksonville

Dunkin’ Donuts announced Monday it opened at 842-1 Dunn Ave. in North Jacksonville. To mark the occasion, the restaurant will offer its Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches at 99 cents through Sunday.

The restaurant will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It offers lounge-style seating for guests indoors and patio seating outdoors, free Wi-Fi access and a drive-thru.

It is the 18th Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant for RRP LLC, the franchise partner who currently operates additional restaurants in Tallahassee and South Georgia.

Restaurants on the rise

• Metro Diner is building out in Baymeadows Village at 9802 Baymeadows Road.

• Garden Truck Juice Bar is remodeling space at 2467 Faye Road, No. 9.

• Starbucks Coffee Co. wants to build-out a shop at 9680 Argyle Forest Blvd.

Licensed to serve

Duval County Tax Collector Michael Corrigan issued business licenses for:

• House of Dog Inc., to Edward J. Feldman, 10950 San Jose Blvd., No. 36.

• Jet’s Pizza, to Dejax Inc., 13475 Atlantic Blvd., No. 12.

• Ship 2 Shore Seafood & Steaks, to Farah’s Restaurant Management #2 Inc., 1403 Dunn Ave., No. 21.

Dining signs

• Gandolfo’s New York Deli, 4820 Deer Lake Drive W., No. 13.

• Taco Bell, 13160 Atlantic Blvd.

• Corner Bakery Cafe, 7111 Bonneval Road.

Food bites

Food- and drink-related businesses filed names with the state Division of Corporations under the Fictitious Name Law to operate:

• Village Bread Café, by Village Bread Restaurant Group LLC, 10111 San Jose Blvd., Suite 16. Kelly Harris is owner of Village Bread Restaurant Group.

• A and J’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, by Alvin Haver, 2760 Mayport Road, Apartment 501, Atlantic Beach, mailing address is P.O. Box 31220, Atlantic Beach.

• Rice Bowl 1, by WBSYC LLC, 13947 Beach Blvd., Suite 110. Shaoying Chen is manager of WBSYC LLC.

• South Kitchen & Spirits, by South Avondale LLC, 1642 Glendale St. Jason P. Motley is manager of South Avondale LLC.

• The Courtyard Pub & Eats, by Colucci Brothers Inc., 316 A&B Centre St., Fernandina Beach. Anthony Colucci of Fernandina Beach is president of Colucci Brothers Inc.

• Bruster’s, by Smiley’s Frozen Inc., 3501-K Ponce de Leon Blvd., St. Augustine. Pankaj Patel is president and Sapna Patel is vice president of Smiley’s Frozen Inc. They live in Saint Johns.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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