More breadsticks for Brooklyn.
Permits have officially been filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB) to reconfigure the old Strauss auto store in the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center, most recently a seasonal Halloween shop, into an Olive Garden.
Applications were first submitted in May of this year, with a permit issued on July 20 for a partial job at the location at 1684 Shore Parkway.
That partial job will likely include a gut renovation of the building, one of many within the large-scale shopping center, to become a fully functional table service restaurant – the likes of which Caesar’s Bay hasn’t seen much of in recent years, with just a nearby Wendy’s and a pizza place, Pizza D’Amore, to assuage shoppers’ hunger pangs.
Olive Garden, a subsidiary of the Florida-headquartered Darden Restaurants, Inc., currently operates 892 locations globally. The new location would be the chain’s second in the borough, its Brooklyn flagship at home in East New York’s Gateway Center.
News of the franchise’s forthcoming sparked serious debate on social media.
Many lifelong Brooklynites opposed the chain, a number of them citing the borough’s already rich assortment of authentic Italian cuisine. Others stressed the simple need for something else, like a Trader Joe’s or a Home Goods.
“This is garbage,” wrote one Facebook user in a group dedicated to southern Brooklyn dining. “[I] can’t even believe it. An embarrassment to the OG of Italian Bensonhurst. Let us stay loyal and faithful to what we are known for.”
“Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s would have been so much better,” wrote another in the same thread.
Few, however, did celebrate the news.
“Olive Garden will bring lots of jobs with good benefits,” wrote another Facebook user on a separate thread. “Darden is a good company that treats its employees well! I’ve done a lot of work with them on their other brands and think it could be good for the community. Keep open minds!”
“To me, opening a faux Italian chain restaurant in Bensonhurst/Bath Beach area makes as much sense as there being a Papa John’s [four] blocks from L&B Spumoni Gardens, but I’m sure they’ll still do good business, just as the Papa John’s seems to do,” a fellow user agreed. “If it creates jobs and community members frequent it, I guess that’s all that matters.”
“It could be worse,” wrote another.
Also rumored to be coming to the shopping center are T-Mobile, a Telco and a Kay’s Jewelers, though, by press time, those reports could not be fully substantiated.