LongHorn Steakhouse coming to Coralville; construction to start this year

By Gigi Wood

CORALVILLE — Coralville will soon have a new steakhouse.

LongHorn Steakhouse plans to open in the Coral Galleria development, located south of the  Coral Ridge Mall and west of the IHOP restaurant. Construction is expected to begin this fall, with the restaurant opening in early 2013.

LongHorn is a restaurant chain owned by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants. The first location opened in Atlanta in 1981. Darden is working with the city of Coralville to obtain the necessary permits to begin construction on the 6,240-square-foot, 242-seat steakhouse.

The restaurant is best known for serving various types of steaks. The menu also includes ribs, chicken, lobster, shrimp and salads. Appetizers include the Texas Tonion and firecracker chicken wraps.

Coral Galleria has been under development for several years by Darryl High of High Development in Cedar Rapids. He said LongHorn will be a standalone restaurant directly north of the new Residence Inn hotel at Highway 965 and the Coralville strip.

“We’re trying to frame the whole project where we’ve got that nice hotel and then there will be a restaurant in front of it and then we’ll just continue to work back towards the east,” Mr. High said. “We’ve got six to eight other companies we’re in discussions with; some small, some large. I anticipate there will be at least three or four more restaurants in the area and maybe a second hotel and some retail.”

Completing the Highway 965 extension south of the Coralville strip was part of the reason the Coral Galleria development has moved slowly during the past few years, he said. Now, the road is almost complete; the railroad crossing signs are soon to be installed.

“It’s basically 95 percent done,” he said.

National retailers and restaurant owners are starting to rebound from the recession and are talking in earnest about signing deals, he said.

“From when it fell off the cliff in 2008, I think we’re having what I would call more meaningful conversations with companies,” Mr. High said.

The development provides parking for the Hawkeye Express train, which shuttles fans to Kinnick Stadium for football games. Mr. High said parking at the development for the train will likely be a permanent partnership with the University of Iowa’s athletic department.

“It brings a lot of added notoriety to our location,” he said. “If you ask Hawkeye fans from almost anywhere in the state of Iowa, they know where the Hawkeye train is.”

Mr. High said High Development recently completed multi-family residential developments in Cedar Rapids and Tiffin that are more than 90 percent occupied.