Olive Garden to open in March

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Break out the parmesan: Olive Garden will open on March 6 at 3259 William St. in Cape Girardeau, according to a company spokeswoman.

Olive Garden is a much-requested restaurant in this area. I have received more queries about this restaurant than any other in my tenure as business editor.

While Olive Garden didn't have specifics ready for release -- such as how many employees -- the company said those details should be available in about two weeks.

Midamerica Hotels, owned by Jim Drury, owns the property. Vice president of development Bob Hahn said the Olive Garden will be a nice complement to the other restaurants Midamerica has been involved in bringing here in recent years -- Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse and Panera Bread.

"We've tried to diversify the menu selection," he said. "We think there's some opportunities to expand on some other food concepts."

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with 566 restaurants, 70,000 employees and more than $2 billion in annual sales.

Construction on the strip mall near the new Holiday Inn Express, meanwhile, began a couple of weeks ago, he said. It will be ready for tenants to finish them out by April 15. The new mall will house six or seven businesses, he said.

* Van Matre remodeling: Mark Van Matre of Van Matre Buick at 511 S. Kingshighway said the dealership is being remodeled. The service drive will have a new look with two new, computerized adviser workstations.

The waiting room has been doubled in size and now has a window and a door and, my favorite, a 27-inch television.

"The whole dealership has a fresh look," he said. "There's new paint, new flooring and new carpet. We've just updated it from head to toe. After 17 years, it just needed it."

By the way, I know the carpet job must be good, because my dad, Scotty Moyers, installed it.

The project cost in excess of $30,000, Van Matre said, and should be completed later this month.

* Grace moving: I couldn't reach Grace Parry -- owner of Grace's Cafe on Broadway -- this week but I have it on good authority that Grace Cafe is moving.

A representative for Judah LLC, which owns the old Weber TV building on Broadway, said they plan to start remodeling that building so Grace Cafe can move into it sometime in February.

* Auto brokerage company opens: Elite Auto Brokerage will open at 1716 E. I-55 Outer Road in Scott City this month.

The company owned by Brian Godair, a longtime car dealer, will specialize in wholesale automobile sales and brokerage to other dealers. The high traffic and visibility location is just across Interstate 55 from the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport along the east outer road. In addition to wholesale operation, the company will also retail specialty cars, trucks, boats and other items.

Tom Kelsey, commercial broker with Lorimont Place Ltd. who handled the transaction, said the property has an office building and over two acres of fenced land making it ideal for an automobile sales operation. Kelsey said the location is in the Gene Rhodes Industrial Park and has been previously used for truck and truck trailer sales.

Scott Moyers is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian. Send comments, business news, information or questions to Biz Buzz, 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702-0699, call 335-6611, extension 137 or e-mail smoyers@semissourian.com.

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