Olive Garden looks toward 2023 opening


Olive Garden plans to demolish the former Ponderosa Steakhouse building at 1585 N. State St. in Greenfield and build a new restaurant on the property.

GREENFIELD – Olive Garden hopes to open a new location off the city’s main thoroughfare next year.

The casual dining restaurant chain known for its unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks has its sights set on 1585 N. State St. in Greenfield, where Ponderosa Steakhouse operated up until two years ago.

Greg Tuzzio, director of operations for Olive Garden who runs 10 other locations in the area, said the plan is to demolish the former Ponderosa structure and build anew.

“Our new Olive Gardens are beautiful farmhouses,” Tuzzio said. “They’re really nice.”

He said the eatery is drawn to Greenfield for its growth in recent years and a desire to give residents in and around the city a closer option than the otherwise nearest opportunities on East Washington Street and in Castleton in Indianapolis.

“For one, Greenfield’s growing, but the other thing too is that it’s such a great brand, we want to be able to expand it to areas that may have a further drive to get to Olive Garden,” Tuzzio said.

The local board of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission approved an alcoholic beverage permit for the restaurant on Thursday.

The new restaurant is expected to employ between 100 to 125 depending on the size of the building, Tuzzio said, adding the 10 other locations he oversees all employ over 100.

“Although, staffing’s tough,” he said during Thursday’s hearing over the alcoholic beverage permit, referring to the widespread struggles businesses have been facing to secure workers since the COVID-19 pandemic. “But we’ll get it. It’s everywhere.”

Joanie Fitzwater, Greenfield planning director, told the Daily Reporter in an email that the city is working with Olive Garden on preliminary design considerations for its building.

Ponderosa Steakhouse’s Greenfield location closed in July 2020 amid the immediate economic challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Olive Garden has more than 800 restaurants, more than 96,000 employees and more than $3.8 billion in annual sales, the company reports on its website, and is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. headquartered in Orlando, Florida.