Despite rumors to the contrary, Mellow Mushroom will still open up shop in downtown Aiken this year.

“The holdup has been the patio area,” owner Shawn Ledford said. “The patio area owners had some issues with the language from the lender in the whole lease process. But I think we have all agreed on everything now, and we hope to close on the building as soon as possible.”

Mellow Mushroom will open in the former West Side Bowery, located in The Alley at 151 Bee Lane. Ledford initially announced the pizza chain would open in February, but since its announcement last year, the opening date has been moved to late May.

The West Side Bowery, owned by Sam Erb, operated in The Alley for 32 years until its closure in 2012 when Erb retired.

“The Erbs are extremely ready as are we to get the restaurant going,” Ledford said. “We have blueprints almost ready for permitting and we're really still moving forward. It's all coming together now.”

After visiting about 10 years ago, Ledford said he knew Aiken was where the newest part of the pizza chain should be constructed.

Mellow Mushroom was originally opened in Atlanta in 1974 by three college students looking to start a pizza restaurant. Since then, the franchise exists in 18 states with more than 140 stores.

“We're definitely still in,” Ledford said. “People should not worry about Mellow Mushroom, we're still moving forward.”

For more information on Mellow Mushroom, visit

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard.