WATERTOWN — Plans to build a LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant next to Olive Garden off Arsenal Street have been proposed by Darden Restaurants, which owns both franchise chains.
A site plan for the 5,500-square-foot casual dining restaurant, which would be situated to the immediate west of Olive Garden, was presented Monday to the Town of Watertown Planning Board by Patrick J. Scordo, principal at GYMO Architecture, Engineering and Land Surveying. The firm is designing the site on behalf of Pyramid Cos. of Syracuse, which owns Salmon Run Mall. Mr. Scordo was accompanied at the meeting by Mary Dudo, the mall’s general manager.
Mrs. Dudo said Darden, the largest restaurant service group in the country, based in Orlando, Fla., plans to build the restaurant next year. She said Darden decided to make its plans for the restaurant public before the site plan was approved, and that the company believes Olive Garden’s presence will help lure traffic to LongHorn Steakhouse.
“They believe the two sister brands will go well together,” she said.
Because a full environmental study for the proposed site was completed when Olive Garden was planned, Mr. Scordo said he hopes the Planning Board will give preliminary approval for the site plan in August. That would allow the plan to be considered for final approval at a public hearing in September.
Mr. Scordo informed the Planning Board that Olive Garden, which opened in 2010, originally was designed to be complemented by a 10,000-square-foot commercial building. With that in mind, water and sewer lines were extended to the west of Olive Garden to accommodate the future construction. He said the Planning Board approved an environmental assessment for the adjacent site in 2008.
“When Olive Garden was built, the water and sewer lines were sized to accommodate future expansion,” Mr. Scordo said. “The pipes are not only big enough for it, but they’re extended far enough so it will only be a short connection to the future restaurant.”
That will allow LongHorn Steakhouse, which will seat about 200 diners, to be constructed without having to close Olive Garden for infrastructure work, Mr. Scordo said.
The two restaurants will share the same entrance/exit off Salmon Run Mall Loop Road. They also will share the parking lot, which will be expanded by 127 spaces for a combined total of 277 spaces.
Mr. Scordo said that because much of the planning for the site already has been completed, he hopes the project will be approved by the Planning Board without any problems.
“Frankly, Pyramid back in 2008 did their homework and prepared future documents that would make this happen,” he said, adding that GYMO also helped design Olive Garden.
Town Supervisor Joel R. Bartlett, a member of the Planning Board, said he was impressed with the planning already accomplished for the site.
“Judging on what’s been done so far, I don’t think it’s going to be a lengthy process at all,” he said.
LongHorn Steakhouse would face competition from Texas Roadhouse, across Arsenal Street next to Kmart and Hannaford Supermarket. The Texas Roadhouse steakhouse chain opened the restaurant in 2007.