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Olive Garden suspends expansion; fate of Kapolei plans unclear

By Erika Engle

LAST UPDATED: 11:37 a.m. HST, Dec 19, 2013

The fate of Hawaii's first Olive Garden restaurant is in question following its parent company's earnings report released this morning.

Florida-based Darden Restaurants Inc. announced that it would sell or spin off its Red Lobster restaurant chain, and that it would suspend openings of new Olive Garden restaurants, as well as the expansion of its LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant chain.

The announcements were made in light of company earnings, as sales have declined at both the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains.

The impact on the highly anticipated Olive Garden in Kapolei is unclear. "We haven't provided an update on the impact to planned or potential new Olive Garden locations," said Rich Jeffers, Darden director of media relations.

The MacNaughton Group confirmed in June it was in lease negotiations with Olive Garden officials for a restaurant in Kapolei Commons, which the development company is expanding. MacNaughton officials said at the time the Kapolei Olive Garden could be the first of multiple Hawaii locations.

This morning Todd Hedrick, director of leasing and property management at the MacNaugton Group, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser it was possible Olive Garden parent company Darden was simply "pushing the pause button," for 2014, because "they have not signaled to us any change in direction," for the planned Kapolei opening.

Hawaii's lone Red Lobster restaurant, at 1765 Ala Moana Blvd., opened in 1994.

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