Matteson Olive Garden gets a new look
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org September 21, 2012 7:08PM
Toni McKeige, general manager of the Olive Garden in Matteson, stands in front of the new entrance that was built as part of an extensive remodeling of the restaurant. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:37AM
Photos of the Tuscany region of Italy, highlighted by track lighting, hang on the walls, while above them hand-painted plates sit on shelves.
They’re part of an extensive remodeling of the Olive Garden restaurant in Matteson, one of just 20 across the country — and one of four in the Chicago area — getting a new look that could be duplicated at others around the country.
“It’s a more rustic, Tuscan feel,” general manager Toni McKeigue said. “It’s just completely different.”
Tables and chairs were replaced at the restaurant, northeast of U.S. 30 and Interstate 57, and the wood throughout is darker than before, McKeigue said. Lighting and flooring were replaced, and the bar area was remodeled, she said.
Outside, landscaping was enhanced, and an entry tower with the Olive Garden sign was erected over the front doors, which should give the restaurant better exposure to traffic passing by, said McKeigue, who has been with the company for 17 years.
Darden Restaurants — which owns Olive Garden as well as the Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse chains — will gauge customer reaction to decide whether to give other Olive Gardens a similar makeover, according to a spokesman for the company. New menu items are also in the works, he said.
McKeigue said work at the Matteson restaurant wrapped up about two weeks ago, and that customer feedback has been positive.
“They say the atmosphere feels very warm,” she said.
The restaurant will hold a ribbon cutting and grand reopening at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 27.
It opened in March 1989 and last was remodeled in 1998, McKeigue said.