Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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New concept still means no Olive Garden in isles

By Erika Engle


Once again, the possibility of an Olive Garden restaurant coming to Hawaii has been dashed.

Readers of TheBuzz have consistently asked your columnist to keep tabs on the situation, either because they have visited mainland locations and wish the fare were available locally, or because their appetites have been whetted and curiosity piqued by the chain's numerous TV commercials.

News that Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc. would be rolling out a co-branded restaurant with both the Red Lobster and Olive Garden concepts in Florida spurred the obvious question to be asked of Darden corporate media contacts yet again.

Verbatim: "Given that there is an existing Red Lobster restaurant in Waikiki, and given the new dual-concept roll-out, can I give Hawaii readers any hope that the company is scouting/will scout Hawaii locations?"

Said hope then fell into a sausage grinder: "Currently, our growth plans do not involve additional sites in Hawaii," said Rich Jeffers, Darden spokesman, reflecting a similar response in 2009.

He continued: "Our Synergy concept is a brand new idea that we are testing with an initial location. ... There are no plans to roll it out broadly at this time."

While no Olive Garden is in the pipeline for Hawaii, Romano's Macaroni Grill is a competing national chain that has two isle locations -- in Ala Moana Center and in the Waikoloa Resort on the Big Island. There are also many island-based restaurants serving authentic Italian and Italian-American fare that regularly sate isle diners' appetites.

Live like a star

OK, so there'll be no residuals and your name won't be up in lights, but if you win, you could live large at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria resort -- one of the locations in the soon-to-be-released movie "Just Go With It."

The film stars Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker and was partially shot at the Grand Wailea, hence the promotional opportunity being leveraged by Hilton Worldwide.

The HHonors "Just Go With It" Sweepstakes offers one grand-prize winner and three guests a 10-day vacation in Hawaii, including five nights at Maui's Grand Wailea and four nights at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. The grand prize winner also will receive 1 million HHonors points and a $10,000 Hilton Worldwide gift card.

Each of 10 first-prize winners will receive a $1,000 Hilton Worldwide gift card and 500,000 Hilton HHonors loyalty points, good at all Hilton Worldwide properties in the U.S., Mexico or Canada.

Free HHonors membership is required for contest eligibility, and registration can be completed at a member-hotel property or online, after which contest entries can be mailed to Hilton HHonors "Just Go With It" Sweepstakes Entries, P.O. Box 5642, Blair, NE 68009-5642. The entry deadline is April 8.

On the Net:

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at

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