One restaurant coming, another moving in area

One restaurant coming, another moving in Washington area

November 19, 2012
Matthew Stillwell of Esken Landscaping cuts landscaping fabric in preparation of planting of trees and shrubs at the new Olive Garden Restaurant opening Dec. 10 at The Foundry in South Strabane Township. Stillwell said the landscapers have planted more than 870 items since last week. - Robin Richards / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The week of the consummate, annual family get-together is here. It’s time to give thanks for many things, including Thursday’s dinner at home – and two more options for eating out.

Old Mexico and Olive Garden Italian Restaurant are opening within 21 days and 1 mile of each other in South Strabane Township.

Actually, Old Mexico is in a new site in the township, debuting at 11 a.m. today on Murtland Avenue. It had been in the Oak Spring Plaza strip mall since it was established in 2001. The restaurant’s specialty, of course, is Mexican food.

Olive Garden will start up Dec. 10 in The Foundry shopping area along Route 19. It is a popular chain with more than 750 restaurants, recognized for its distinctive architecture known as “Tuscan farmhouse.”

Company officials must have been using their noodles when they selected this vicinity, for this will be the first Olive Garden in a growing Washington County. The nearest restaurants of the chain are in Bethel Park, Triadelphia, W.Va., Robinson and Green Tree.

The closest Olive Garden for most Greene countians is in Morgantown, W.Va.

This new restaurant will spice up life in The Foundry, which has been beset by problems since it opened in 2007. Subsidence caused cracks in the mall’s foundations, forcing three retail stores – JCPenney, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Ross Dress for Less – to depart in 2009, (JCPenney returned to nearby Washington Mall.)

In the meantime, in May 2008, Indianpolis-based Premier Properties USA, developer of The Foundry, went into bankruptcy. This was after the founder, Christoper White, was charged with theft and fraud. The Foundry was among several retail projects that were part of the Chapter 7 liquidation.

THF Realty, of St. Louis, is marketing the property to potential retailers.

Olive Garden is on stable ground, as is its neighbor, Max & Erma’s, slightly to the north. They are the only businesses at The Foundry.

South of there will a familiar South of the Border-style resturant, Old Mexico. Spouses Dora and Fidel Valdovinos, owners along with Santiago Solorio of Alabama, decided to move to the larger site up the hill. Evergreen, a Chinese restaurant, had been there previously.

Old Mexico’s 5,000 square feet can accommodate 50 dining tables and there is parking for 80 vehicles. They have a staff of 12 working full- or part-time.

The Valdovinoses, of Washington, had hoped to open sooner, but a broken window forced a delay.

They will continue their monthly tradition of having a mariachi band performing for their culinary crowd.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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