Thomasville Times Enterprise

December 1, 2012

Menu addition

Patti Dozier
CNHI

THOMASVILLE — One will not find lobster at Olive Garden or lasagna at Red Lobster.

The two restaurants — in the same building and sharing a large kitchen — will open in Thomasville at 11 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 10.

“We’re synergized,” said Brian Haywood, general manager of the 254 Liberty St. establishment. “We’ve combined the two elements.”

Darden, the Orlando, Fla.-based company that owns the restaurants, hired 260 people to staff the Thomasville business. Haywood said thousands applied for the positions, which range from to-go specialists to bartenders to utility workers to bakers, among others.

Training of the new employees began Saturday by a team of Darden trainers who have years of experience in opening new restaurants.

The Olive Garden, with a Tuscan farmhouse decor, seats 160.

Haywood pointed out the Olive Garden family room, a separate corner room that opens onto the main dining room. The space, which has lots of windows, attractive window treatments and a stone wall, resembles a cozy eating area in one’s home.

Olive Garden also has banquette and traditional seating.

The Italian restaurant’s slogan, “When you’re here, you’re family,” is evident in photographic artwork.

“Everything you would receive at Olive Garden you would receive here,” Haywood explained. “It’s the same with Red Lobster.”

The bar for the two restaurants is separated by a partial wall that houses large built-in wine racks. Bartenders will have knowledge of both restaurants.

The Red Lobster motif is taken from Bar Harbor, Maine. Artwork depicts scenes in the New England coastal community.

The Thomasville Red Lobster will seat 120.

See Sunday's edition for more details.