Mall officials discuss remodeling plans for LongHorn Steakhouse and retail store
LongHorn Steakhouse is expected to open in College Square Mall in the spring.
Rumors of fresh grilled steaks soon to hit East Morristown have been confirmed via a press release issued late Friday by CBL-owned College Square Mall.
A freestanding LongHorn Steakhouse is projected to open in spring 2014 on part of the area currently occupied by the former Sears store.
“The announcement of the addition of LongHorn Steakhouse at College Square Mall is an extremely positive retail component to the community,” General Manager Mike Kaufman said.
LongHorn was founded in 1981 in Atlanta, Ga. by George McKerrow Jr. The single eatery, then named LongHorn Steaks Restaurant & Saloon, did not attract large numbers of guests until the freak snowstorm of 1982. As one of the few hospitable places that remained open, McKerrow’s talent for grilling steaks gained word-of-mouth notoriety by way of stranded travelers.
By 1990, the restaurant had spread throughout the East, Midwest and Southwest United States and Puerto Rico. In 2007, the restaurant, now called LongHorn Steakhouse, was purchased by Darden Restaurants, Inc.
“We’re looking forward to being a part of this community and serving local residents our fresh, never frozen, expertly grilled steaks,” Chuck Arnott, Darden real estate director, said.
According to Jon Meshel, CBL director of development and redevelopment, demolition of the Sears building will begin in the fall and construction will start on LongHorn in November.
The press release comes exactly 30 days after Meshel approached the city of Morristown Regional Planning Commission with a request to subdivide the lot on which the former Sears site is located.
The commission’s approval was to be subject to the dedication by CBL of additional property for Morris Boulevard right-of-way.
CBL will own the building. LongHorn Steakhouse will lease the property on which it’s built, Meshel said.
Kaufman said that as part of the retail addition and redevelopment at College Square Mall, another retailer in the Morristown market will be joining the mall’s lineup to backfill the remaining Sears space.
“The impact of this retailer and restaurant will be mutually beneficial to the center as well as the community,” Kaufman said. “We look forward to working with these retailers at College Square Mall and anticipate positive results for the market and community.”
Positive results for the community could easily include nonprofit agencies that provide food to the needy. All LongHorn restaurants participate in the Darden Harvest program, which has donated more than 66 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country.
The mall will join more than 45 anticipated new locations for LongHorn over the next year, according to the steakhouse’s website, bringing the total to 430 restaurants across 38 states.
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.
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer