The restaurant will be 7,659 square feet with seating for as many as 246 guests and will feature a design that is inspired by traditional farmhouses found in Tuscany, Italy, said Tara Gray, who manages media and communications for Darden Restaurants Inc.
Next to the Martin’s Food Market, the restaurant at 891 Foxcroft Ave. is being built on a 1.47-acre parcel. The lot was subdivided from the Martinsburg Mall property and leased to GMRI Inc., a subsidiary of Darden for 10 years, according to city and county records.
The lease agreement between GMRI and Mountain State University Building Co., a subsidiary of Mountain State University, provides the tenant with options to renew the lease four times, for five additional lease years each, according to county records.
The Martinsburg Planning Commission approved the property subdivision in May and site plans for the restaurant were approved in March, but not without at least one commissioner airing concerns about traffic and safety.
Brett Mashchak with Darden Restaurants told planning commissioners in their regular meeting March 7 that the project plans provided for 95 parking spaces on the newly developed parcel.
Mashchak indicated the on-site parking plan would provide a majority of the parking space needed, but the company also planned to have a parking agreement with the mall, which is across Foxcroft Avenue from the new restaurant, to provide additional spaces for employees and overflow parking.
With proper traffic-calming techniques and a restricted turn movement already in place, motorists will be trained on the new traffic flow, City Engineer/Planner Michael Covell said in the meeting, according to the minutes.
Gray said in a statement Friday that the company expects to open 35 to 40 new Olive Garden locations across the country this fiscal year and is excited about opening the restaurant in Martinsburg.
“We typically look for vibrant trade areas that are easily accessible to our guests, and we believe our new Martinsburg location will perform well due to its close proximity to popular shopping and retail outlets,” Gray said.
Darden operates more than 2,000 dining establishments, including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 restaurants, according to its website.
The first Olive Garden opened in 1982 and the Martinsburg location would be the company’s sixth in West Virginia, according to the company’s website.