Monday, November 20, 2017 Elyria 30°


Olive Garden coming to Elyria


Location formerly Smokey Bones

ELYRIA — Elyria building officials and the contractor working on the former Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill on West River Road say the building is in the process of being converted into an Olive Garden restaurant. 

For weeks, officials at Darden Restaurants — the parent company of Olive Garden and former owner of Smokey Bones — would not confirm that the building would house an Olive Garden.

Elyria officials in past weeks said site plans for the building indicated it would be an Olive Garden, but a Darden spokeswoman would not confirm the renovation.

On Thursday, Chief Building Inspector Phil Lahetta said the building is definitely being remodeled to make way for an Olive Garden. In addition, officials at Fortney and Weygandt, the contractor working on the renovation, said they are transforming the building into the Italian eatery. Fortney and Weygandt, based in North Olmsted, was awarded the bid to remodel the building in early October, according to Darden’s Web site.

Darden officials said the former Smokey Bones closed in May because of steadily declining business in fire-grilled foods. 

Last week, Darden announced it will be selling the Smokey Bones chain to Barbecue Integrated Inc. for about $80 million. 

Darden owns and operates Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, LongHorn Steakhouse and the Capital Grille, employing about 170,000 people.

An opening date for the Olive Garden has not been set.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or

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