ELMHURST — A controversial new "restaurant row" built on a formerly vacant lot near the Queens Center Mall is starting to hire workers.
It was not clear exactly how many jobs would be available, but the city estimated 225.
The development rankled local officials who said the plan was ushered through without community approval.
Longhorn Steakhouse, scheduled to open Oct. 11, is taking applications online for bartenders, dish and prep cooks, line cooks, servers and service assistants, according to its hiring site.
The adjacent Olive Garden is set to open Oct. 27 and is also hiring for bartenders, kitchen staff and servers.
It's not clear when Joe's Crab Shack will open but they are currently hiring for kitchen and service jobs on its own site. The seafood shop is still under construction.
The development is spearheaded by the Mattone Group, which obtained the lot from the city in the early 2000s and originally planned to develop a movie theater on the site.
It stayed vacant for years as the plans fell through, and the city took the developers to court over it, settling last year for $3 million, officials said.
The change of plans to create a new "restaurant row" riled up Councilman Danny Dromm and the local community board at a meeting in February.
They said the Mattone Group didn't present the new plans to them before moving forward and handled things "in secret."
Community officials were concerned about traffic in the bustling area, which is across 59th Avenue from Queens Center Mall.