Olive Garden Opens at Pier Park

by September 10, 2008 • 0 comments

New Tuscan Farmhouse-design restaurant is the first in Bay County

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (September 8, 2008)- Olive Garden welcomes guests to its newest restaurant opening at Pier Park, located in Panama City Beach at 15701 Panama City Beach Parkway on Monday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m.  The beautiful new restaurant, built in the company’s Tuscan-farmhouse design, is the first in Bay County.
Approximately 165 jobs will be created with the opening of the 247-seat, 7,441 square-foot restaurant that is expected to contribute to the state’s restaurant industry growth.  According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2008 Industry Forecast, restaurant sales in Florida are expected to grow 5 percent this year.
“Panama City Beach supports a strong tourism industry making it the perfect location for the newest member of Olive Garden’s family of local restaurants,” said Valerie Insignares, executive vice president of operations for Olive Garden.

Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG), the country’s largest owner, developer and manager of high quality retail real estate, is pleased to boast another exciting restaurant for its Pier Park development. “The Olive Garden is a fantastic addition to the dominant restaurant lineup at Pier Park,” says Felicia Cook, director of mall marketing at Pier Park. “This restaurant will help further the center as the regions premier shopping and dining destination.”
Pier Park is a 900,000-square-foot open-air regional lifestyle center offering premiere retail, dining and entertainment choices located on 93 acres that covers land from Front Beach Road (at the City Pier) to the heavily traveled Highway 98 (Back Beach Road).

Tuscan Inspiration

The Olive Garden in Panama City Beach has a rustic stone exterior, typical of the buildings in the Italian countryside, and an interior accented by Italian imports designed to make the dining experience here a tribute to the restaurant’s Italian inspiration.  Ceilings supported by exposed wood beams, stone and wood accents throughout, and terra cotta tile highlight the interior.

The bar top is crafted from lava stone, then hand-painted by artisans in Italy with design created exclusively for Olive Garden; vibrant imported fabrics decorate windows and dining seats; hand-painted plates adorn rustic stone and stucco walls; and the lighting fixtures are all distinctly Italian.
“We are extremely excited to share the breathtaking setting of our new Tuscan Farmhouse-design Olive Garden with the Panama City Beach community,” said Mark Swartz, general manager.  “It was designed after our Riserva di Fizzano restaurant in Tuscany, Italy, which is rustic, charming, warm and beautiful – the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a genuine Italian dining experience.”

To recognize Swartz’s role as head of the Olive Garden family in Panama City Beach and to emphasize the importance the company places on its general managers, Olive Garden honored Swartz by setting his name in stone.  Travertine marble imported from Tuscany was chiseled with Swartz’s name and placed prominently by the front door.

Most new Olive Garden restaurants have been built in the Tuscan Farmhouse-design since February 2000.
Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with 653 restaurants, more than 80,000 employees and $3.1 billion in annual sales.  Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest full-service owned and operated restaurant company.  For more information, visit Olive Garden’s Web site at www.olivegarden.com.

Panama City Beach Olive Garden at a glance:
Opening Date:                      Monday, Sept. 8
Employees:                          165
Square Footage:                  7,441 square feet
Number of Seats:                 247
Hours of Operation:             From Monday, Sept. 8 – Sept. 14 the restaurant will serve dinner only:
–    Sunday through Thursday: 4 – 10 p.m.
–    Friday and Saturday: 4 – 11 p.m.

The restaurant will be open for lunch beginning Monday, Sept. 15.  Lunch will be served starting at 11 a.m. every day.

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