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Olive Garden to open in Salisbury; Home Depot announces closures

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Olive Garden plans to build and open a Salisbury restaurant by spring 2009, according to a corporate spokesman.
The restaurant will be located next to the Wallace Commons retail center being built along Interstate 85 at Julian and Klumac roads.
An Olive Garden official confirmed the chain’s plans the same day Home Depot, the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, announced it will close some existing stores and scrap plans to build new ones.
Home Depot and Kohl’s department store chain were the two major tenants who previously committed to the Wallace Commons center.
Construction already has begun on the Kohl’s store, and it is not known if the Home Depot planned for Salisbury is one of the stores that will be abandoned. In an article about Wallace Commons in the April 24 Salisbury Post, a spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Home Depot said plans for the 130,953-square-foot store had been “a little bit delayed.”
The new Olive Garden restaurant will be built at 1425 Klumac Road.
Construction on the restaurant should start in September and finish by March or April of 2009, said Mara Frazier, manager of media relations for Olive Garden.
The 7,441-square-foot Salisbury restaurant will feature a Tuscan farmhouse design the company began using in 2000.
Frazier said the design reflects Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany in Italy, where the restaurant’s culinary, beverage and training teams have gained national recognition.
Olive Garden was founded in 1982 and is owned by Darden Restaurants Inc.
The company does not offer franchises, and none of the Italian food restaurants is individually owned and operated.
Olive Garden operates 628 restaurants in the United States and Canada and employs more than 77,000 people.
The Salisbury restaurant would employ 150 to 165 people, according to Frazier.
An Olive Garden restaurant has average annual sales of $4.6 million.
According to Bloomberg.com and the PR Newswire, Home Depot plans to abandon plans to build 50 stores and will reduce investments in new locations by about $1 billion through 2011.
The company will close 15 “underperforming” stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin. Those closings will affect about 1,300 employees and cost an estimated $586 million, mostly in the first quarter.
Home Depot will still build 36 new U.S. stores.
Chief Executive Officer Frank Blake, who took over in January 2007, has already sold HD Supply, the wholesale commercial-builder unit. He also closed landscape and floor outlets to focus on retail stores.
Home Depot stock rose 3.8 percent on the news Thursday of its slowed expansion plans, trading at just under $30 per share.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com. Deirdre Parker-Smith contributed to this article.

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