ELMHURST — Soup, salad, bread sticks, and crab will soon be served up at the site of a long-vacant lot near the Queens Center Mall.
Plans to build three chain restaurants — Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Joe’s Crab Shack — on the corner of 92nd Street and 59th Avenue in Elmhurst were presented last week to Community Board 4.
The lot is owned and being developed by the Mattone Group, based out of College Point, Queens.
President Carl Mattone told the Daily News the restaurants were a “good fit” for the space.
The developers obtained the lot from the city in the early 2000s, and originally planned to develop a movie theater on the site, according to city officials.
But the lot stayed vacant for years, even as the area surrounding it flourished.
The Queens Center Mall underwent a $275 million renovation in 2004, adding larger chain stores, a new food court and new design.
And the nearby Rego Park Center, which features a Century 21, Pier 1 and Panera Bread, opened in 2010.
The city took the Mattone Group to court over the lack of development, and settled in February for $3 million, officials said.
Now, the empty lot will not only be a dining destination — it will also provide 225 permanent jobs, the city said.
Renderings of the plan, reported by the News, show a brick facade and ample parking surrounding the restaurants.
The local community board said they are excited, especially for the prospect of local residents finding work.
Their biggest concern is additional traffic, according to Christian Cassagnol, the district manager of Community Board 4.
He noted that the area around the mall, near Queens Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway, is already a high-traffic area. The addition of three restaurants will likely increase the issues, he said.
“It’s a little concerning, but so be it,” Cassagnol said, adding that the plans are already in place.
The city said the project should begin construction at the end of 2013, and is expected to be completed by 2016.