Olive Garden gets makeover
The Olive Garden in Lincolnwood is one of 20 in the country to get a makeover. | Contributed photo
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:12AM
LINCOLNWOOD — Local Italian food lovers know that on any given weekend evening the task of finding a parking spot at the Lincolnwood Olive Garden can require just as much patience as waiting for a table.
Of the 800 Olive Garden restaurants nationwide, the Lincolnwood location was chosen as one of 20 in the chain to receive a major interior and exterior makeover.
The 10-week remodeling project wrapped up this month, and guests can expect to see a whole new Olive Garden at their next visit, including deeper color tones on the signage and building exterior, a tower addition to the roof area, and new tables and chairs in the dining areas.
Additional cushioned benches have been added to the rustic-themed entryway, and a darker-colored bar, subdued lighting and warmer color tones throughout the restaurant reflect a cozier more intimate dining theme.
“We want to provide a stronger Tuscany theme and a more comfortable interior,” said Jim Leibforth, director of operations for the northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin markets. “It’s a significant change — Chicagoland is a busy market for Olive Garden, so we want to make sure the restaurants in the area are always on the cutting edge.”
The 20 restaurants chosen to receive the makeovers are part of a test pilot, and decisions on whether to remodel the other locations will be made based on customer feedback.
The remodeling project also has a charitable aspect in that 50 percent of the tables and chairs removed from the restaurant were donated to Habitat for Humanity.
“We have longtime employees, some of who have been working with us for almost 20 years at this location, so we really feel like an integral part of the community,” Leibforth said. “The remodeling project was a great opportunity for us to give back to our neighbors.”
A healthier menu will also be introduced in Olive Garden restaurants nationwide for fall. The “Lighter Italian Fare” menu section will feature five new entrees that contain less than 575 calories each.
Those dishes include lasagna primavera with grilled chicken, seafood brodetto, herb-grilled salmon, linguine alla marinara and Venetian apricot chicken.
The Lincolnwood Olive Garden is also participating in a nationwide buy one-get one free promotion called “Dinner Today and Dinner Tomorrow,” where guests can choose one of five entrees and take a second meal home with them for $12.95.
The Olive Garden is located at 3303 W. Touhy Ave. and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.