Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Olive Garden's Original Location

In real life Italy, unlimited breadsticks are not a thing.

Besides marketing its food products in all the area grocery stores, General Mills brought two restaurants to the Bryan-College Station through its General Mills Restaurant Group subsidiary, Red Lobster in 1983 and Olive Garden a decade later. (The other two significant concepts at the time, Good Earth, and China Coast, never made it to the area, though the latter briefly saw Waco and Houston).

Neither my articles on Hastings or H-E-B Pantry mention Olive Garden, which sat at the corner of Texas Avenue and Holleman Drive from 1993 to 2004. The old Olive Garden met its fate when it burned down in a fire, and what was left of the building was declared a total loss.

In January or February 2005, a new Olive Garden opened at University Drive East and Earl Rudder Freeway, and by October 2005, two new buildings rose at the former Olive Garden site, a Chase bank (replacing the 2000 Texas Avenue South address), and a second building (2002 Texas Avenue South) holding Jimmy John's and Men's Wearhouse (Google Street View link). The Jimmy John's closed in late summer 2019 for reasons unknown but by that time, a Jimmy John's was operating at Rock Prairie Crossing and near Texas and University Drive East. Of course, Jimmy John's at the latter location has a somewhat interesting backstory, and that will be covered soon enough...

The ad is from the mid-1990s, before it introduced its newer logo (dropping "The" and adding what appeared to be a bunch of grapes to the logo) around 1999 (replaced in 2014 but still seen on many restaurants).