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Olive Garden opens in New Hartford

By Gary Liberatore

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - People started lining up around 9:00 Monday morning to be the among the first guests of the brand new Olive Garden Italian Restaurant on Commercial Drive in New Hartford.

By the time the doors opened at 11 A.M., there was a line that ran down the sidewalk, and the parking lot was just about completely full.

If you aren't familiar with an Olive Garden, the company refers to itself as a fast-casual Italian restaurant chain.

There are more than 800 locations in 49 states.

The most popular items on the menu include some unlimited pasta dishes for $9.99, and their famous warm breadsticks that come with most meals.

The 7,660 square-foot restaurant has a seating capacity of 240, and with the new popular eating spot, comes 150 new jobs.

The new location's General Manager, Ian Nason, says the buzz surrounding the opening was huge, "I've opened a few restaurants and I've never seen a community that was more food based and more excited about a restaurant coming. I heard yesterday they have been waiting for ten years."

New Hartford Town Supervisor Patrick Tyksinski, who was on-hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting Monday morning says he expects his phone to stop ringing as much now, "I've had people call up and ask, when is it coming, has it gone through the planning board? I've even had other town supervisors ask, is that passed, is it going through?"

One of the new location's first customers was Ann Paoni of Ilion, who made the trip from Ilion to wait in line. "I couldn't wait."

Paoni says she is a big fan of Italian food and supports area restaurants as much as she can.

She says the Olive Garden will now be a very nice option for her, but she will continue to support the small business owners as well, and says competition is good for everyone.

If you are at all familiar with an Olive Garden from other locations, you may know how busy they usually are, and you know most likely there will be a wait for a table, especially around dinner time.

As far as taking reservations, General Manager Nason told reporters, "We won't take reservations for the first month, until we see how busy it's going to be, but we will eventually take reservations Monday through Thursday for parties of ten or more."

Otherwise, bring your patience, because it may be a while before you're seated.

The hours for the new restaurant are from 11 A.M. to 10 P.M. Monday through Thursday, and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 A.M. to 11 P.M..

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