BOARDMAN -- A new owner has acquired the former Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen at 6671 South Ave. with plans to reopen the eatery as a Smokey Bones BBQ Sports Bar.
Darden Restaurants, which also owns and operates the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, announced it had bought the Boardman restaurant and three others from Avado Brands, the Atlanta-based operator of the Don Pablo's chain.
Smokey Bones, Darden's newest restaurant chain, specializes in barbecued dishes served in a casual, mountain lodge-style setting. Based in Orlando, Fla., Darden operates more than 1,200 restaurants, including 27 Smokey Bones eateries.
Darden also bought Don Pablo's restaurants in Greensboro, N.C., and Bowie, Md., and a Hops Restaurant in Columbus from Avado, all to be converted into Smokey Bones BBQs.
Clarence Otis, president of the Smokey Bones chain, said the acquisitions will help the company meet its goal to open 20 to 25 new Smokey Bones restaurants in the next three years.
The news came less than a week after Avado Brands closed the Boardman restaurant. More than 50 full- and part-time employees were left jobless when Don Pablo's closed Thursday.
An Avado spokeswoman said the site and several others were being sold to raise money to pay off some of the chain's debt.