POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 31, 2011
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.
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On the Net:» www.darden.com