LongHorn Steakhouse is coming to Aiken, joining a host of businesses along the bustling Whiskey Road corridor. Construction started Monday at the restaurant's nearly 1-acre site in the parking lot in front of Lowe's.
“We're always appreciate new investment in the Aiken community; we hope we have a good, profitable and encouraging business environment,” said Aiken City Manager Richard Pearce on Tuesday morning after confirming that a LongHorn restaurant was being built on the Southside of Aiken.
The City of Aiken Building Inspection Division issued a building permit for the LongHorn project on April 15 after receiving an application on March 27, according to building official Mike Jordan.
“I'm looking forward to getting it open,” Jordan said. “I don't know if you've ever been to one, but I enjoy it, personally.”
Ganaway Contracting of Alpharetta, Ga., is overseeing the construction of Aiken's first LongHorn Steakhouse. The area of the Lowe's parking lot where the restaurant is being built has a slight slope.
“We're removing the asphalt (from the parking lot) and we're removing the existing curbs and islands so we can get ready to level up the building pad,” said Scott Alligood, Ganaway job superintendent. “We'll have new islands and new parking spaces, obviously, around the building. We'll have new underground utilities – water, electric, gas, sewer and irrigation lines for the new islands. We'll also have to move a few of these light poles out of here.”
Plans call for the 6,270-square-foot structure to be completed in “approximately 120 days,” according to Alligood. He said the restaurant would have an occupancy load of 336 people, including staff.
Erica Jaeger, a LongHorn spokesperson, declined to provide further information, saying, “We're still in very early stages of this potential development.”
LongHorn is a chain of full-service casual dining restaurants that serve both lunch and dinner. The first restaurant, then known as LongHorn Steaks Restaurant & Saloon, opened in 1981 in the Buckhead community of Atlanta. George McKerrow Jr. was its founder. The following year, LongHorn gained fame with the $1 drinks and food specials it offered after a major snowstorm that stranded commuters.
By 1990, there were LongHorn restaurants throughout the East, Midwest and South as well as in Puerto Rico.
Darden Restaurants purchased LongHorn in 2007. Today, there are more than 400 LongHorn restaurants.
Darden, based on Orlando, Fla., also owns and operates Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other restaurants.