Olive Garden Italian Restaurant Opens First Location in Alaska

Opening in Anchorage marks Darden Restaurant, Inc.’s first restaurant in the state

ORLANDO, Fla. – Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 750 restaurants, will open its first location in Alaska on Monday, Jan. 23, creating 165 jobs. The restaurant is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant operating company.

“We are excited to open the first Olive Garden in Alaska and are honored to join the Anchorage community,” said Dan Kiernan, executive vice president of operations for Olive Garden. “Our team here in Anchorage is looking forward to delivering a great dining experience for all of our guests.”

The Olive Garden menu features Italian specialties including signature items such as homemade soups, garden fresh salad and warm, garlic breadsticks, as well as limited-time offerings. Unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks come with all entrees or are served as a meal. Guests at Olive Garden will find great value and choice for lunch and dinner.

Olive Garden also offers Garden Fare options which allow guests to personalize their Italian meal to help meet their dining needs. Substitutions are offered for any side dishes to accommodate a guest’s meal, including lower in fat and carbohydrate options, as well as gluten-free versions of some favorite Olive Garden recipes.

The new 7,441 square-foot restaurant hosts up to 246 guests and features a design that is inspired by traditional farmhouses found in Tuscany, Italy. Olive Garden design teams traveled to Italy to work with Italian architects Fabio and Lucia Zingarelli and the result is a restaurant design that recreates the warmth and simple beauty of a Tuscan farmhouse.

The Anchorage Olive Garden has a rustic stone exterior, typical of the buildings in the Italian countryside, and an interior accented by Italian imports designed to make the dining experience here a tribute to the restaurant’s Italian inspiration. Ceilings supported by exposed wood beams, stone and wood accents throughout, and terra cotta tile highlight the interior.

In addition, the bar top is crafted from lava stone and hand-painted by artisans in Italy with a design created exclusively for Olive Garden. Vibrant imported fabrics decorate windows and dining seats, while hand-painted plates, designed by Lucia herself, adorn rustic stone and stucco walls. The interior also features lighting fixtures that are all distinctly Italian.

The restaurant also will feature a number of sustainable design elements, including recycled building materials, enlarged windows to increase natural light, low-water landscaping and energy-efficient equipment. These enhancements are part of the Sustainable Restaurant Design initiative launched by Darden Restaurants.

Dawn Bellerose has been named general manager and will be responsible for leading a team that maintains the highest quality of food, wine and service — aiming to consistently exceed guests’ expectations. Bellerose brings extensive restaurant industry experience to her new position. She has been with Olive Garden for five years, most recently as general manager of the Olive Garden in Worcester, Mass.
To recognize Bellerose’s role as head of the Olive Garden family in Anchorage and to emphasize the importance the company places on its general managers, Olive Garden honored Bellerose by setting her name in stone. Travertine marble imported from Tuscany was chiseled with Bellerose’s name and placed prominently by the restaurant’s front door.

Olive Garden is now accepting applications for employment. To be considered for an interview, please apply online at http://www.OliveGarden.com/Careers. A second Olive Garden location will open in Alaska later this year in South Anchorage. To receive the latest information on Olive Garden, guests can visit http://www.Facebook.com/OliveGarden or sign up for the “Our Family Table” newsletter at http://www.OliveGarden.com.

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 750 restaurants, more than 88,000 employees and more than $3 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant operating company. In 2011, Darden became the first full-service restaurant company ever to be named to the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Olive Garden is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in the local community. As part of this commitment, the Anchorage Olive Garden will participate in the Darden Harvest program, which has donated more than 50 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country. For more information, visit http://www.olivegarden.com.