One of the restaurants most sought after by Aiken residents could finally become a reality.
Plans to build an Olive Garden on Aiken’s Southside have been submitted to the city of Aiken for review. The proposed location is 2265 Whiskey Road, the former home of Golden Corral. The buffet restaurant closed in early 2020.
The plans were originally going to be reviewed by the Aiken Planning Commission at its Tuesday meeting, but the item was postponed to the commission’s April meeting at the request of the applicant, John Keen.
“It’s something I know the residents have asked about for a number of years,” said Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh.
The proposal is to demolish the existing Golden Corral building in order to construct a smaller-footprint structure, according to the submitted project narrative. The existing building is 9,331 square feet, while the proposed Olive Garden would be 7,805 square feet.
The total landscaped area would increase from the 6,815 square feet currently at the site to 9,124 square feet.
The plan calls for the proposed Olive Garden to have 235 seats and 117 parking spaces.
The building’s exterior would consist of a stone veneer with elements of stone cladding and brick veneer, according to submitted documents.
“It’s an exciting possibility that we hope comes to fruition,” said Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon on Wednesday. “Olive Garden has taken notice of the community’s interest.”
The project still has to go through the approval channels of the Aiken Planning Commission and Aiken City Council, so it’s not quite time for residents to pass the breadsticks yet.
The Olive Garden proposal will be on the docket for the commission’s April 12 meeting.
The Olive Garden news come shortly after recent redevelopment updates in the city of Aiken.
The proposed Olive Garden site is near the busy Publix shopping center and an area slated for lots of redevelopment. The former home of Ruby Tuesday, located near the proposed Olive Garden site, is slated to become a Zaxby’s, and the Chick-fil-A next door is currently undergoing a renovation to expand the kitchen and drive-thru areas.
Also, the heavily commercial area sits at one of the gateways to the Aiken Mall, whose developers recently showed updated concept plans. These plans showed proposed locations and layout of restaurant or retail space, apartments, a hotel, a park, amphitheater and walking trail.
The existing Aiken Mall is scheduled to be completely demolished this year, with construction of the new structures starting afterward.