Some new businesses opened and others closed their doors for good this year throughout the Aiken area. Other businesses have recently announced plans to locate in the city or county and those projects are currently under way. Here’s a review of several business happenings in 2012 and what to expect in 2013.
Opened in 2012
Apizza di Napoli
Owned by Cliff and Wanda Garzzillo, Apizza di Napoli opened in the Centre South Shopping Center on Silver Bluff Road this year.
The restaurant holds a certification of True Authentic Neapolitan Pizza from the VPN Association in Naples, Italy, using the guidelines set out by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association.
The dough is made fresh daily, and Apizza di Napoli uses San Marzano tomatoes, which according to its website, come from the base of Mount Vesuvius in Naples.
Swamp Fox opened on Chesterfield Street in the old Olive Oil’s building this year.
Located across the street from the Aiken County Courthouse, Swamp Fox bills itself as a fine Southern cuisine restaurant.
The restaurant’s name honors Revolutionary War militia leader Francis Marion, who was nicknamed the “Swamp Fox” for leading a band of fighters through the low- and back-country swamps against British troops.
Cracker Barrel Restaurant and Country Store opened its doors on Jan. 30 and has kept busy since then, as it was highly anticipated by residents who waited several years for the eatery to come to Aiken.
Located at 2634 Whiskey Road, the construction of the restaurant was given the official thumbs up by City Council on December 2010. Construction began in late August of 2011.
The business brought approximately 185 jobs to Aiken.
LaDolce, a downtown cafe, opened on Nov. 29 and is run by Executive Pastry Chef Kirstie MacVean and her mother, Tea Master Lady Kelly MacVean.
This new business offers gourmet desserts, including wedding cakes. It also offers a variety of coffee drinks and teas.
LaDolce is located at 123 Laurens St.
Betsy’s on the Corner
Betsy’s on the Corner opened for business over the summer. Owned and managed by Betsy Simons, this eatery offers a wide range of main dishes and desserts.
The business is located in the space once occupied by Maxine’s in downtown Aiken and has been completely transformed to resemble an old-fashioned soda parlor.
Betsy’s On the Corner is located at 159 Laurens St. N.W.
In Progress in 2012
The Fresh Market
Work has been under way for several months at the site of The Fresh Market in the South Park Shopping Center on Whiskey Road. There is no word yet on when the specialty grocery will open; the company’s website still only lists the store as “coming soon.”
The Fresh Market will be the anchor store in the shopping center at around 19,000 square feet. There are other retail spaces on either side ranging from 900 to 1,440 square feet.
Halvorsen Holdings, which operates the shopping center, has not listed any other tenants for the strip.
The shopping center’s concept plan shows renovations would add varying elevations to the building, painted in earthy hues. Thomas Vincent, president of Halvorsen Holdings, has said the hope is to give that area a more downtown look and feel.
Applications are being accepted online for deli, meat and produce managers.
For more information on becoming a new employee, visit careers.thefreshmarket.com.
Sam’s Club, currently in the early phase of construction on the Westside of Aiken, should be opening in 2013 at the corner of Robert M. Bell Parkway and Highway 1.
One of the largest retail constructions in the area, the membership-only retail warehouse club owned and operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hopes to have its doors open in around a year’s time, according to the company.
Plans for the store show an approximately 139,000-square-foot wholesale warehouse and a six-pump gas station. The site will be accessed from two entrances with dedicated turning lanes. These changes to the roadway are now visible to motorists on Highway 1.
Figures released by the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer estimated 150 to 175 new jobs will be created by the facility once it is in operation. These positions should start to be advertised by late summer or fall.
Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn Express
Recently approved by City Council in December, these two hotels will be constructed on a plot of land located on Whiskey Road adjacent to Stratford Drive. They will be owned and operated by Naman Hotels.
The Holiday Inn Express would be a four-story, 55,072-square-foot building that would include 95 rooms and parking spots. It will not include a restaurant or meeting place. Staybridge Suites will be 68,115 square feet with 90 rooms, 115 parking spaces and a 600-square-foot meeting room. There will be no restaurant in that hotel.
The hotels are projected to have an economic impact of approximately $30 million and will create around 100 jobs.
The Marriott Towneplace Suites
Construction continues on this hotel located off Whiskey Road on Monterey Road. The hotel was approved in July 2011 and the groundbreaking ceremony was held this June.
Hotel co-owner Neel Shah of NMR Sycamore said the four-story facility will include an outdoor pool, guest laundry, an exercise room, free breakfast and 85 large studio rooms.
Approximately 20 to 25 jobs will be created by this hotel.
Academy Sports announced in August that it plans to open a store in Aiken. The sporting goods store will locate in Hitchcock Plaza off Silver Bluff Road where the Stein Mart was formerly located.
Academy offers athletic and casual clothes and footwear as well as a large selection of sporting equipment, according to its website. It’s projected that the store will be ready to open by the summer of 2013.
Visit www.academy.com for more information on this retailer.
Closed in 2012
Blockbuster closed its doors early this year after months of speculation that the location on Pine Log Road would shutter its doors.
Hundreds of Blockbuster stores throughout the nation stopped renting and selling movies and video games and closed their doors following the company’s filing for bankruptcy in September 2010. The company was auctioned off and sold to Dish Network for a reported $320 million, and, while many stores remained open, many also closed.
The Mexican restaurant on Whiskey Road closed this year. Several calls to the property’s leasing company were not returned.
Ryan’s on Whiskey Road closed in March as part of a bankruptcy restructuring plan.
The Aiken location was one of 83 under performing restaurants owned by parent company Buffets Inc. that have closed or will close to “strengthen the company’s portfolio and position the company for profitable growth” in the wake of a Chapter 11 filing, according to the company.
Ryan’s was originally located across Whiskey Road in what is now Millbrook Baptist Church’s youth center known as The Rock. Millbrook acquired the building in 2000 when Ryan’s relocated.
Fred’s closed its South Park Shopping Center location in July to make way for The Fresh Market.
South Park Shopping Center has emptied out by degrees over the past year. Aaron’s and the Goodwill Emporium relocated in 2011, and Acceptance Insurance relocated this year. There is no word on the future of Roma Pizza & Restaurant, which closed once construction work began at the site.