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Mall Readies to Celebrate 40 Years as Two New Dining Spots Near Completion

October is going to be a big month in Woodbridge.

Two new restaurants on the grounds of are nearing completion.

Bahama Breeze and Olive Garden both started construction at the beginning of April in a distant parking lot of the mall, near Route 1 and Woodbridge Center Drive. 

The two eateries are expected to be open for business by the end of October, said Amy Bellisano, senior general manager of Woodbridge Center.

That will be just in time for the month-long celebration of the mall's 40th anniversary. Woodbridge Center opened for business in 1971 in what was a former clay pit. Clay mining had at one time been a huge occupation inside the township.

The mall will hold events every day during October to commemorate its four decades in Woodbridge, Bellisano said.

"We actually had our anniversary earlier this year, but we're celebrating it in October," she said.

The two restaurants encompass more than 17,000 square feet of dining space. Olive Garden is a chain that focuses on family friendly Italian food, while Bahama Breeze offers island cuisine in a Carribean atmosphere.

Even in a slowing economy, the two new eateries are expected to compliment the mall's steadfast growth. Pro Image Sports, a collectibles store, recently opened, while two moderately priced fashion stores, Wet Seal and Forever 21, have both expanded their space inside the mall.

Other stores such as Cinnabon and American Eagle have invested in refurbishing their mall-based stores, Bellisano said. Several new stores are expected to open their doors inside Woodbridge Center in the coming year, said Bellisano, who is looking forward to the mall's anniversary month with great anticipation.

"Much of our staff has been here since 1971 when Woodbridge Center opened," she said. "We love this place like it's our own. I've been here 19 years. In that time, you really care about the community and the facility."

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