Olive Garden looking to move into former Perkins space

A submitted rendering of what the proposed Olive Garden in Delafield could look like if approved.


DELAFIELD — An Olive Garden restaurant proposed for the former Perkins Restaurant site at 2440 Milwaukee St. received an initial site plan approval from the Plan Commission on Wednesday, but not without commissioners asking applicants to make adjustments.

The biggest concern among commissioners was the potential impact a 39-foot pylon sign being proposed for the development might have on motorists’ ability to see the smiling face of the Smiley Barn while driving westbound on Interstate 94.

Seeing the smile

Smiley Barn owner Maria Luther was the first to raise the issue.

“We are absolutely thrilled that the Olive Garden is coming to Delafield. But ... we need to ensure that nothing about this project impairs the sight line from travelers on I-94 to the Smiley Barn smile,” said Luther, speaking during the public comment period. Luther added that she had spoken with some of the people behind the project, who said they didn’t believe the sign would obstruct the Smiley Barn smile, but she wanted to be sure the city would fully study the issue and try to ensure that it wouldn’t.

Later in the meeting, a project manager said the company could likely do some renderings for the Plan Commission to show just how the sign at its proposed height and location might impact the view of the Smiley Barn smile.

City Planner Amy Barrows said the city would expect that there might be a conflict between the two signs somewhere along the elevation line as motorists drove past, but commissioners seemed to indicate that they wanted to avoid anything that would noticeably obstruct the view of the Smiley Barn.

Commissioners also expressed a desire for sidewalks planned for the development to be extended and meet up with existing paths in the area.

Other local concern

The only other person to speak on the issue during the public comment period was Silver Mitchell, the general manager for the Fishbone’s Cajun and Creole, 1704 Milwaukee St.

Mitchell didn’t object to the site plan for Olive Garden, but to the prospect of a large chain restaurant siphoning would-be employees away from her business and other local restaurants.

“The whole restaurant industry in Delafield is at a strong standstill for employment. We are having a really hard time finding employees at all...I think voting “yes” on Olive Garden puts us out of business,” said Mitchell.

The applicants for the Olive Garden project will follow up with the Plan Commission at their next meeting in late May.