Brandon Wicks, general manager, was busy making sure his wait staff, chefs, kitchen workers and others would be ready at 11 a.m. when the doors opened.
A handful of patrons were already lined up outside at 10:30 a.m.
A new Olive Garden restaurant opened in Chambersburg, Pa., last week, Wicks said. On Monday, the company’s Website had already listed the Chambersburg and Martinsburg restaurants.
Allyson Hayes, 19, a waitress, was headed for the door looking forward to her first official day at work.
“The employees and supervisors are super nice. I never worked in a place like this before,” she said. During training we were fed three-course meals, she said.
“We have a lot of great employees here,” Wicks said. “We’re happy to be in this community.”
Hayes is one of 170 employees in the new restaurant, which can seat 246 diners in booths, tables and a back room that can accommodate 60 or more.
The interior mimics the style, decor, flavor and culture of a Tuscan farmhouse. Wicks was a member of a team of chefs and managers who spent a week at the Culinary Institute of Tuscany.
“The Italian people have a love for food,” Wicks said in comments on the chain’s Website. “They don’t just eat food to get energy for the body, they use all their senses. They love the food, they smell it, they taste it, they sit at a table and build connections with other people.”
Olive Garden is one of eight restaurants in the chain owned by Darden Inc., of Orlando, Fla., Wicks said. The others are Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Season 52, Bahama Breeze, Eddie V’s and Yard House.
Olive Garden restaurants in Hagerstown, Frederick and Winchester, Va., are among the more than 800 in the United States, Wicks said. “We also have a restaurant in Mexico City and one in Kuwait,” he said.
Wicks started his career at Olive Garden in the kitchen while he was still in college.
Rose Bronson of Martinsburg was among those outside waiting for the front doors to open. She rode the PanTran bus to Martinsburg Mall and saw the Olive Garden sign, she said. “I love their salad,” she said.
Bob Deneseus said he is “big fan of the Olive Garden in Hagerstown. “I love the meatballs and spaghetti.”
Berkeley County Schools school bus drivers Pam Vanorsdale and Mary Myers were also in line. They came for lunch.
“I’m delighted to have an Olive Garden here in Martinsburg,” Myers said.
“This is a big thing for Martinsburg,” Vanorsdale said. “People are eating healthier today, like the soup and salad they have here.”