The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 13, 2012

Eatery plans advance

School district will not oppose liquor license transfers

EBENSBURG — A developer’s plans to put two well-known restaurants on Theatre Drive in Richland Township can shift to the front burner.

In a unanimous vote, Richland school district officials said they will not object to liquor license transfers needed by Darden Restaurants as part of plans for an Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Bill Trevorrow of CCN Properties, who sought board support for both projects on Darden’s behalf, said Tuesday’s move puts the restaurants on track for openings in late 2014.

“Now, Darden can start the planning and design process to make this happen,” he said, noting developers will have to work with the state Department of Environmental Protection to put a new retention pond at the rear of the site.

The property itself will need site work, Trevorrow added, but he said the company has lined up an environmental engineer for the pond and wetland matters.

Darden is planning to put the restaurants on 6 acres of undeveloped land. But because the school district land is next door, state Liquor Control Board regulations require that any liquor license transfers to the land receive the district’s blessing first.

Darden wrote to the district that it would put only its well-known franchises, Olive Garden and LongHorn, on the land and that if one or both had to close, Darden would not sell the sites to bars or nightclubs.

Board members said that was an important factor in their decision. And board President Michael Bodolosky noted the district’s approval is contingent upon the restaurant developers meeting PLCB criteria.

Board member Anthony Rizzo suggested the board bring in a member of the state Taverns Association to explain the liquor license process before making a decision. But the idea received no support.

And Rizzo, whose family owns several Italian restaurants in the area, then joined the board in unanimously approving the restaurant chain’s request.

The district’s closest land to the proposed Olive Garden and LongHorn location is a practice field and the former Rachel Hill school, which is now used only for storage.

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