LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

Plans filed for restaurant/retail on South Iowa site once proposed for Olive Garden


I don’t think that's the smell of Olive Garden’s all-you-can-eat breadsticks in the air, but I can’t be certain. My wife is taking no chances: She’s digging out her massive breadstick-toting purse, and she is ordering me to dust off my dinner jacket with the really big pockets.

All of this is to say there is activity at the 27th and Iowa site that once was proposed to house the city’s first Olive Garden restaurant, until that deal fell apart when city commissioners balked at providing incentives for the restaurant chain.

A new development plan for the northeast corner of the intersection has been filed at City Hall. The plans call for a 12,700 square foot building to be constructed on the largely vacant site. Half the building would be devoted to a “high turnover sit down restaurant,” while the other half would be used for “general retail shops.” The plans don’t provide any specifics on the restaurant or the retailers that may be going into the location. In case you are having a hard time picturing the site, it is where the old Plum Tree Chinese restaurant used to be, and also the adjacent site where Mazzio’s Pizza used to operate years ago.

The developer — Mission-based MD Management — is the one who proposed the Olive Garden for the site in 2011. But these plans are different than the ones filed when Olive Garden was the proposed tenant for the site. The traffic study also notes the development will produce about 60 percent fewer motorist trips on any given day than the previous proposal. Those all may be signs that we’re talking about a different restaurant, but I don’t really know. Some folks who have insight into these sort of things seem to think that too. I’m doing some asking around, and I also have a call into MD Management.

At the moment, I haven’t seen anything that indicates the development company is seeking any sort of financial incentives, such as special taxing districts or property tax rebates, to develop the site. But I’ll keep my eyes open for that as well.

The property already has the proper zoning for restaurant and retail development, so most of the approvals needed from City Hall are relatively technical ones. Perhaps the answers will reveal themselves in fairly short order.

In the meantime, I have a feeling that since our breadstick garb has been unearthed, my wife and I will be making a trip to an Olive Garden. I just hope its never-ending pasta bowl promotion isn’t going on. You don’t want to know how she makes me smuggle out pasta and marinara sauce.


matthew2600 4 years, 11 months ago

If you aren't familiar with the Olive Garden, it's a magical Tuscan mirage where people gather to plunge face-first into troughs full of chicken Alfredo and participate in an eternal breadstick and salad parade.

madcow 4 years, 11 months ago

Would much rather have a red lobster, or a crab shack.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

Rather than Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, or Crab Shack, I would prefer a locally owned-and-operated restaurant with well-prepared, flavorful food. Myself, I find most chain restaurants to be unfortunately bland and I rarely patronize them. I would not patronize this one, if it is one of these.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

Seriously, this is Lawrence, We have lots of what I assume are locally owned places with good food. The Greek place downtown fits that bill as far as I know.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, seriously. I understand that we are luckier than some of our neighbor cities to have more mom-and-pop restaurants than they do. I only offered my own preference. there isn't much difference between my saying "I prefer small tasty restaurants" and madcow saying "I prefer Red Lobster." Except, of course, that I went on to explain what I think is better about my choice.

If it is Red Lobster, madcow will be happy but will not meet me while there. If madcow wants to meet me for lunch, perhaps we can go to a restaurant we will both enjoy.

PhilChiles 4 years, 11 months ago

Half restaurant, half retail? WE'RE GETTING A CRACKER BARREL, FOLKS!

LeBo 4 years, 11 months ago

Pisano's is a local business. I agree Olive Garden would be good for Lawrence, yet, tax abatements should not be S.O.P.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

Myself, I find Paisano's better than Olive Garden.

Hooligan_016 4 years, 11 months ago

I hope that they align the building to face/abut the Iowa RoW. Really don't want to be looking at another parking lot.

LogicMan 4 years, 11 months ago

Whatever it is, Git 'r Done! That corner has been blighted for long enough.

Any news on the old Phillips 66 station to the north? If closed for good, don't the underground tanks have to be removed quickly?

Dick Sengpiehl 4 years, 11 months ago

My wife and I love Olive Garden. Darden owns Red Lobster too and they are often built near each other. We like both but imagine only one possible so Olive Garden would be great. Retail? Don't like the sound of that.

Joe Berns 4 years, 11 months ago

If $14.99 for an entree that provides two meals is overpriced, then you need to find another job. Plus, it comes with unlimited salad and breadsticks.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

paul85, I don't think the cynic was saying OG is overpriced for the QUANTITY of food you get. Look at his entire post: I believe he is saying it is overpriced because he believes the food to be "mediocre." In other words, the price is too high for the QUALITY of food you get. (I tend to agree with him.) Just because the salad and breadsticks are unlimited does not mean they are not mediocre...and unlimited mediocre food can still be overpriced.

Terry Sexton 4 years, 11 months ago

I realize it probably won't be but I'd go for a Cracker Barrel. I'd get me some pancakes with that wonderful maple syrup & a hashbrown casserole. The coffee is perty good, too. Plus I could sit there & play that little triangular peg game they have at each table. And just think of all the spiffy last minute shopping choices on Christmas Eve!

They'd never get an acceptable sign variance, though. You can see those things days before you reach the parking lot.

average 4 years, 11 months ago

A Cracker Barrel at a location more than 200 yards from a freeway interchange? How would such a thing even be possible?

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

No way. We need a Waffle House long before a Cracker Barrel. Both would be good though.

patkindle 4 years, 11 months ago

the out of towners will flock to olive garden the locals, not so much, they are way too cool , unless of course they have a free coupon

irvan moore 4 years, 11 months ago

if they need financial incentives to make it work they should partner up with doug, it would be a done deal

Terri Ferguson 4 years, 11 months ago

Many years ago, I worked at the large building on the site when it was Western Sizzlin'! Next door was Ken's pizza, and behind them was Dr. Kunc's chiropractor office. That whole area has been an eye sore for a VERY long time. I dont care what it is, but I sure hope they do something to it, instead of building new buildings on more fresh lots. And what about the corner gas station at 25th. What is the word on that? Any idea?

jack22 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm just glad they're not putting up another high rise apartment building there.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

It's just blight right now. Give somebody a tax break to build something people want there.

Jimmy 4 years, 11 months ago

I wish they'd bring back Mazzios! Granted, I haven't eaten there since I was a kid, but I sure loved it growing up.

Maddy Griffin 4 years, 11 months ago

Me,too! Especially after finding out how KFC "grows" their chicken. Just please, no more pizza, burgers, Oriental or Mexican food. This town is over saturated with that.

blindrabbit 4 years, 11 months ago

We need a real old fashioned diner; not a plastic First Watch nor a repeat of the Global, Mirth, Wheatfield's (which are acceptable), but! I want a pie, chicken fried steak, pork tenderloin, meatloaf kinda place that has some decent hours.

blindrabbit 4 years, 11 months ago

Should have added Perkins, IHOP to the "plastic" list in my prior. But please, no Cracker Barrel, would work in any other town in Kansas, but not a more progressive, independent thinking community like Lawrence.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.