Just in time for Christmas, three new businesses have opened in the Evans and Martinez area for shopping and dining pleasure.
Star Aquatics, an aquarium, exotic fish and aquarium supply company, opened Friday in the Publix shopping center on Washington Road in Evans.
This is the fourth such store for owner George Medina, who has been in the business for more than 20 years. He said he recently sold his three Atlanta-area stores and moved to Evans to get away from the maddening traffic.
"Like a lot of aquarium store owners, I was a hobbyist originally and I had a passion for the hobby," Medina said. "I was one of the fortunate ones that turned a hobby into a successful business."
Star Aquatics caters to the upscale aquarium hobbyist, selling high-end aquariums that can be custom-installed and lighted to a customer's desire, Medina said. The store also sells living coral, supplies and fish from all over the world.
"If you can't make it to the Georgia Aquarium," Medina said, "we'll fill your need for marine life. We have a lot of exotics."
He said the store, formerly a frame shop, was completely gutted to accommodate the exotic fish aquariums, new flooring and lighting.
Also opening last week was the Augusta-area's first Loco's Grill and Pub at the corner of Baston and Furys Ferry roads in Martinez.
Formerly known as Loco's Deli and Pub, Loco's is an Athens-based chain with more than 20 restaurants in Georgia and Alabama. The restaurant serves steaks, burgers, sandwiches, salads and offers catering and delivery.
"It's a restaurant where you can get just about everything," said Asher Alston, the restaurant's franchisee. "We have about 93 menu items and we try to please everybody who comes through the door. We try to give them a relaxed, fun, come-as-you-are atmosphere."
Alston, who owns a second Loco's in Macon, said he chose the Furys Ferry area compared to locations in Richmond County on Wheeler Road, Washington Road and in downtown Augusta because of Columbia County's growth potential.
Culpepper Lumber Company, of Thomson, also opened its second store at 4532 Washington Road on Nov. 25.
Culpepper is affiliated with Ace Hardware.
The company's new 38,000 square-foot facility features a 17,000 square-foot showroom, a drive-through building material pickup area and a garden center.
"(We have) a good, friendly, hometown folk atmosphere," Lem Brooks, the company president, said. "(We'll) provide a good response to our customers' needs."
The business, which sells hardware, lawn, garden and building supplies, has been family-owned and operated in Thomson since 1953.
Another new businesslikewise is in the making. Coming soon to the Evans Towne Center area is Teresitas Mexican Cuisine, according to a sign in front of the former location of The Upper Crust on Towne Centre Drive. Attempts to contact the owners were unsuccessful.
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