• Mat Tuck

Possible New Downtown Joliet Restaurant in Catholic Charities Building

Real estate developer John Bays’ tax increment finance plan was approved by the City of Joliet. While Bays wants to lease the first floor of his downtown Joliet Catholic Charities building to a restaurant like Olive Garden, comments from a spokeswoman from the Olive Garden company make it sound unlikely that we will see an Olive Garden in Joliet any time soon.

According to the Joliet Herald-News, the Joliet City council approved the tax increment finance plan for the real estate developer John Bays’ downtown Joliet property, commonly referred to as the Catholic Charities building, back on November 6. The approval allows Bays to use the increased property taxes that come with building improvements to offset renovation expenses.

Bays is looking to pull people from the west side of Joliet over to the downtown area by putting a “big name” chain-restaurant in the main floor of his building. According to the Morris Herald-News, “Bays said those big names were the Olive Garden and Cooper’s Hawk,” while talking to Joliet’s Economic Development Committee (EDC).

Bays said to the EDC that he is willing to take a chance and put up all the money so that big-name businesses have nothing to lose by being in the Catholic Charities building. “’I[‘ll] build the building and I’ll let you out of your lease if things don’t work out,” Bays says according to the Morris Herald-News. Bays is willing to limit the financial risks for restaurants like Olive Garden.

So, will Olive Garden be moving into the Catholic Charities building? Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it.

Spokeswoman for Olive Garden parent company Darden Restaurants Jessica Dinon said in an email, “We have no plans to open an Olive Garden in Joliet at this time.”

It is unknown at this time exactly why Olive Garden doesn’t want to put one of their restaurants in Joliet. “Unfortunately, we do not disclose our site selection criteria as it is proprietary,” Dinon said in that same email according to the Morris Herald-News.

While Bays will not be putting an Olive Garden in his Catholic Charities building he told the Morris Herald-News that “it’s going to be somebody and I’m not going to give up on this.” Bays says that no matter what restaurant ends up in his building, “it’s going to be nice.”

@usf_encounter tweets: