Update (March 14 at 12:24 p.m.): This story previously stated that the grand opening would take place on March 25. The opening is now targeted for early April, according to the Olive Garden.
An Italian-American inspired restaurant chain has planted new roots in Brooklyn.
The Olive Garden, which has 892 locations globally, will be opening a new venue at 1684 Shore Parkway, near the Ceasar’s Bay Shopping Center in Gravesend.
This is the chain’s second location in Brooklyn, with the other being at the Gateway Center in East New York. Located near a Kohl’s, Best Buy and Modell’s, the new Olive Garden is the perfect place for shoppers to stop in and enjoy a delicious family style meal. After all, Olive Garden is known for its endless soup, salad and breadstick options.
General Manager Steven Flory-Alexander is delighted to be overseeing the new restaurant. The Culinary Institute of Tuscany graduate gave up a career as a commercial pilot to work at the Olive Garden. He has been with the company for 12 years, starting as server in an Olive Garden in Tulsa, Oklahoma before working his way up to manage the Olive Garden branch in Valley Stream, Long Island, and ultimately becoming a general manager.
Alexander explained that the company was looking for an area that offered long-term growth opportunities within the community and are certain they’ve found it at the new location. In fact, giving back to the community is a primary focus for Olive Garden.
“We will be donating proceeds from our pre-opening training event to the Boys and Girls Club,” said Alexander. “We’re also involved with the Harvest Program, where we give extra food, not leftover but extra sauces, extra lasagna, anything surplus we end up harvesting and giving it away to the Harvest food donation program. Olive Garden has given over 35 million pounds of food to the Harvest Program across the nation.”
They also work with the Girl Scouts of America, hold a disability mentoring day and perform other acts of community outreach.
While some have questioned the location of the new Olive Garden in a neighborhood known for fine Italian cuisine, Alexander is quick to point out what makes Olive Garden unique. “One thing we always say is when you’re here, you’re family,” he explained. “We have regular guests from Valley Stream that are looking forward to visiting us here. We have a special rapport with the guests. We genuinely care about our guests and it’s really exciting to get to know everybody.”
Alexander also believes that the quality of the food the Olive Garden serves is a big reason people keep coming back. “My favorite is the chicken and shrimp carbonara,” he said. “It’s a sautéed chicken and shrimp tossed in a creamy carbonara sauce with red peppers and spaghetti.”
Another reason guests keep coming back is that everything served is fresh and homemade. “Our breadsticks are the best. They’re baked fresh every 15 minutes. We will not serve one breadstick older than 15 minutes,” Alexander said.
The new Olive Garden has brought approximately 150 jobs to the community.