Olive Garden opened at 73 Rodeo Dr. in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Monday, April 29 at 11 a.m. – creating 160 new jobs. The Olive Garden in Myrtle Beach is the newest Olive Garden in the family of more than 800 local restaurants committed to providing every guest with a genuine Italian dining experience.
The 7,441 square-foot restaurant can host up to 246 guests and features a design that is inspired by traditional farmhouses found in Tuscany, Italy. Olive Garden design teams traveled to Italy to work with Italian architects Fabio and Lucia Zingarelli and the result is a restaurant design that recreates the warmth and simple beauty of a Tuscan farmhouse.
The Myrtle Beach Olive Garden has a rustic stone exterior, typical of the buildings in the Italian countryside, and an interior accented by Italian imports designed to make the dining experience here a tribute to the restaurant’s Italian inspiration. Ceilings supported by exposed wood beams, stone and wood accents throughout, and terra cotta tile highlight the interior.
In addition, the bar top is crafted from lava stone and hand-painted by artisans in Italy with a design created exclusively for Olive Garden. Vibrant imported fabrics decorate windows and dining seats, while hand-painted plates, adorn rustic stone and stucco walls.
The restaurant also features a number of sustainable design elements, including recycled building materials, enlarged windows to increase natural light, low-water landscaping and energy-efficient equipment. These enhancements are part of the Sustainable Restaurant Design initiative launched by Darden Restaurants, Olive Garden’s parent company.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead the Myrtle Beach restaurant and a great team at Olive Garden,” said J. Bentley Thurlow, newly named general manager. “In addition to our Italian specialties, including signature items like our homemade soups, garden fresh salad and warm, garlic breadsticks, the menu at the Myrtle Beach Olive Garden will feature limited time offers like our Buy One, Take One promotion. Guests can select one of five entrées to enjoy and select another entrée from the five to take home for dinner the next day.”
Thurlow brings extensive restaurant industry experience to his new position. He has been with Olive Garden for 10 years, most recently as general manager of the Olive Garden located at 1405 N. Kings Hwy. in Myrtle Beach. Thurlow received an associate’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales College in Providence, R.I.
Thurlow is one of more than 1,400 managers who have visited Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany in the Tuscan village of Riserva di Fizzano, which serves as the source of inspiration for some dishes on Olive Garden’s menu. Each year, more than 100 managers visit CIT and learn about Italy, its food, wine, culture and people. This includes learning the time-honored traditions of Italian cooking and working side-by-side with Italian master chefs. The CIT is designed to inspire attendees to share the Italian culture of hospitality and passion with their restaurant teams and guests back home.
In 2011, Thurlow received a Diamond Club Award, the company’s top honor, which recognizes general managers who receive outstanding results in delighting guests with a genuine Italian dining experience and achieve top financial performance.
To recognize Thurlow’s role as head of the Olive Garden family in Myrtle Beach and to emphasize the importance the company places on its general managers, Olive Garden honored him by setting his name in stone. Travertine marble imported from Tuscany was chiseled with his name and placed prominently by the restaurant’s front door.
Olive Garden is now accepting applications for employment. To be considered for an interview, please apply online at www.OliveGarden.com/Careers.
Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 800 restaurants, more than 90,000 employees and more than $3.5 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant operating company. In 2013, Darden was named to the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the third year in a row and is the only full-service restaurant company to ever appear on the list. Olive Garden is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in the local community. As part of this commitment, the Myrtle Beach Olive Garden will participate in the Darden Harvest program, which has donated more than 60 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country. For more information, visit www.olivegarden.com.