Here's an updated Milledgeville chain restaurant "Wish List"
Baldwin2k News recently asked its Facebook followers to rank the chain restaurants they'd most like to see come to Milledgeville, one through three.
Most people didn't follow the rules and just named one restaurant, while other people named closer to 10 restaurants. Nevertheless, it's the thought that counts, and the 100-plus comments offered some insight into the chain restaurant "Wish List" for Milledgeville.
Here are the five restaurants that were named at least five times:
1) Red Lobster – 21
2) Panera Bread – 19
3) Olive Garden – 16
4) Cracker Barrel – 9
5) Golden Corral – 6
Milledgeville-Baldwin County currently has just one sit-down seafood restaurant – Down South Seafood. Although really tasty, Down South Seafood is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings, and plus it's pretty far out in the boonies. This would probably explain much of the clamoring for Red Lobster.
There's always been the theory that Red Lobster "only opens in towns with an interstate." Dublin, for example, has a Red Lobster located off of Interstate 16, and Laurens County only has a few thousand more people than Baldwin. Plus, Laurens doesn't have the legions of college students from suburban Atlanta with seemingly endless disposable income.
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So, is it true that Red Lobster only open in "interstate towns?" Is it company policy? Well, based on the map of Red Lobster locations in Georgia, there's no hard-and-fast rule about opening solely in interstate towns, although the overwhelming number of Red Lobster locations in Georgia are located along an interstate (see screen grab below). All totaled, out of the 20 Red Lobsters in Georgia, only two are not in interstate towns – the one in Albany and the one in Athens. Albany has the 10th largest population of Georgia cities and Athens the fifth.
The same generally is true for Olive Garden, which received the third-most votes in the Baldwin2k poll. Red Lobster and Olive Garden were part of the same corporation up until 2014 – Darden Restaurants. Although the two restaurant chains are no longer in the same family, Olive Garden follows the same pattern. Out of the seven Olive Gardens in Georgia, two are not interstate towns – Albany and Waycross. The population of Waycross/Ware County actually is smaller than the population of Milledgeville/Baldwin County.
So, for anyone holding their breath for a Red Lobster or Olive Garden in Milledgeville, Olive Garden likely is more likely to happen, based on the fact that there's a location in Ware County, which is smaller than Baldwin County and likewise not located along an interstate.