Could Joliet land an Olive Garden? Mayor says seed is planted
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org March 20, 2013 8:22PM
Updated: April 22, 2013 12:32PM
Joliet still does not have the long-elusive Olive Garden Italian Restaurant chain in town.
But, “We’re close,” Mayor Thomas Giarrante said at his State of the City address on Wednesday.
The city has been hungry for an Olive Garden since at least 1993. That’s when the developer of Joliet Commons shopping center said the restaurant chain would be part of the new shopping center. But Olive Garden never came there or anyplace else in Joliet.
Residents since have often uttered the words “Olive Garden” in conversations about what they would like to see in Joliet.
“A lot of people say we need an Olive Garden,” Giarrante told his audience. “I’ve had Olive Garden in my office for 45 minutes.”
One of Giarrante’s goals has been to attract new stores and restaurants to Joliet.
“I worked hard to bring Tony’s Finer Foods here,” he said, noting the popular supermarket that opened on Route 59 earlier this year.
While waiting for Olive Garden, Joliet did get a Chipotle in 2012.
Five Guys Burger and Fries opens April 15, Giarrante said. It will be at Route 30 and Hennepin Drive (across the street from where Olive Garden was supposed to go in 1993).
Tuesday Morning, a retail chain that takes an upscale approach to selling close-out merchandise, is coming to the North Ridge Plaza on Larkin Avenue.
Giarrante pointed to the 98 percent occupancy rate at Louis Joliet Mall as evidence that the city offers a strong market for prospective retailers. He said the mall ranks among the top 10 in the Chicago region for sales per square foot.
To take advantage of the mall’s appeal, the city is working on the possibility of converting some of the parking area outside the mall for retail and restaurant development, he said.
Some observers might suggest that would be a good place for an Olive Garden.