When the new First Bank of Georgia branch holds its ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning, it will be celebrating the bank’s third presence in Columbia County.
“Evans is a fast-growing market,” bank president and CEO Remer Brinson III said. “We were near that market and had a lot of customers in that market but didn’t have a physical location.”
That changed when the 3,000-square-foot, full-service bank opened at 4349 Washington Road, in front of Kroger.
The bank has six other local branches: two in Martinez, one in Thomson and three in Augusta.
Plans to expand into Evans have been under way since bank officials purchased the corner parcel in 2002 for $400,000, according to Columbia County mapping documents.
“It’s a site we’ve owned for a number of years and actually were planning on starting a branch (on) in 2006 or 2007 when the economy really turned,” Brinson said. “We paused during that time.”
The branch includes a banking staff of seven full-time employees and will offer extended drive-in hours.
In other business openings in Columbia County:
• A Fuji Asian restaurant has opened at 4414 Evans-to-Locks Road, next door to the Vineyard Wine Market.
The full-service restaurant features Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisine.
• A nearly $2 million renovation is under way to turn the former Food Lion in the Village at Furys Ferry into a Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Columbia County Development Services recently issued a building permit to Walmart for $1.9 million for renovations at the former Food Lion in the Village at Furys Ferry shopping center on the corner of Furys Ferry and Evans-to-Locks roads.
That grocer, in addition to two other Food Lions in Columbia County, closed more than a year ago.
Neighborhood markets are smaller than a traditional Walmart Supercenter, which is about 182,000 square feet. The stores, averaging about 38,000 square feet, offer grocery items, household supplies, health and beauty products and a pharmacy.
This is Walmart’s first neighborhood market in the metro Augusta area.
A second shuttered Food Lion on North Belair Road, next to Home Depot, is being renovated to become a Big Lots store.
• Smallcakes, a cupcake bakery, recently opened at 4460 Washington Road in Liberty Square shopping center in Evans.
The store is owned by Jeff Martin, a Hephzibah native who competed for three seasons on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
The Evans store is operated by Martin’s partner, Lori Pitts, and employs about 10 people.
• Dean and Denise Dozier, of Appling, recently started a Kona ice franchise with a vehicle offering flavored shaved ice.
• Wifesaver has opened its new Grovetown location after closing the restaurant at 116 N. Belair Road near Columbia Road.