Construction work has finally started on the Olive Garden restaurant at the Southgate shopping center. The parking lot was roped off last week, and then this week the heavy equipment moved in and started tearing out the asphalt.
The new restaurant will be right out by the highway, next to the Nevada State Bank. This is a very visible location, probably the best spot they could put it. Southgate Center is in the middle of a resurgence right now, with Big Lots and Big 5 both opening in the past few months. Hopefully all this activity energizes the smaller retailers too, because right now there is a lot of empty space in between the anchors that needs to be filled.
I’d also say that Carson City doesn’t necessarily need more big chains. The success of locally-owned restaurants like the Firkin and Fox, B’Sghetti’s, El Charro Avitia, and Red’s shows that you don’t need to be a franchise to be popular. We like going to Chili’s and Johnny Rocket’s sometimes, and we’ll go to the Olive Garden when it opens for sure, but it’s the other places that make Carson City unique, and we probably spend more time at those than at the chains.
So this Olive Garden is good for Carson, but let’s get more energetic restaurateurs like Jim Phalan opening up really good local restaurants too!