09/25/12 — Date set for new eatery opening

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Date set for new eatery opening

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on September 25, 2012 1:46 PM

Don't fill up on steak -- your breadsticks are on the way.

Darden Restaurants' one-two plunge into the Goldsboro restaurant market began July 31 with LongHorn Steakhouse's opening at 609 N. Berkeley. The follow-up, in the form of an Olive Garden just yards up the street, will open Oct. 22.

But the opening of the 6,270-foot restaurant, which is expected to provide between 80 and 100 jobs in the area, coupled with Olive Garden's highly anticipated opening just months later brings to mind a couple of questions.

Why Goldsboro and why now?

Darden is the parent company of the two restaurants and also is the corporate presence behind the Red Lobster and Bahama Breeze brands, and a spokesperson for the company said Goldsboro was a prime location to debut its newest stores.

"A lot goes into selecting a site and much of the process is proprietary," Erica Jaeger said via email. "In general, we look for vibrant trade areas such as the Eastgate Shopping Center."

Ms. Jaeger, the spokesperson for the LongHorn brand, said there are no concerns about the two restaurants competing for guests, saying Darden tends to prefer situations where its brands operate in close proximity.

"It's not uncommon to find Darden's casual dining brands in the same market, given the fact that they share similar guest demographics," she said. "We believe Goldsboro is a strong market capable of supporting both brands."

But the likelihood of Darden bringing the restaurant group's most sought-after brand, Red Lobster, to Goldsboro doesn't look good in the near future.

"Our focus is on the Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants for now," she said.