As some former residents of Richmond County migrate to Columbia County, some familiar businesses are following suit.
This week, Denny Gardner and Chip Hicks will open their first Riverfront Collision Center in Columbia County off Evans to Locks Road in Evans. Hicks said that about three years ago, he and his business partner decided that the Evans area was the place to launch their second auto-body repair center.
The new Riverfront Collision Center is a unique facility, he said, complete with five paint booths and 42 repair bays. The 22,000-square-foot shop was designed by DuPont and also features a climate-controlled estimate bay and automotive repair equipment that "is more sophisticated, complicated, energy-efficient, much more functional and quality wise parallel to factory type repair," Hicks said.
Riverfront offers premium and economy car rentals onsite through Enterprise Rent-a-Car, shuttle service and wrecker service, Hicks said.
On Friday, father-and-son business partners Bob and Robert Moak will open a Barberitos Southwestern Grill and Cantina in the Liberty Square shopping center on Washington Road near the Evans Wal-Mart. The men moved the franchise from its location on Wrightsboro Road in Augusta because of better traffic counts and demographics in the Evans area, Robert Moak said.
The Athens, Ga.-based chain features made-to-order burritos, tacos and salads. Robert Moak, who has operated Augusta's two Barberitos restaurants for more than three years, said the restaurant uses only fresh ingredients.
"We still do everything the old-fashioned way and make everything in house," he said.
In March, Bob Hockman, the owner of Bob's Tropical Fish on Washington Road in Richmond County, plans to relocate his business to Martinez near the intersection of Baston and Old Petersburg roads.
"Basically, for a little bit better economic position, I could build my own building and pay less money," he said. "Plus, I think this will be a better area where I'm moving based on the traffic patterns and based on how congested Washington Road is getting."
He called the Old Petersburg corridor a promising area with the future expansion of River Watch Parkway.
Also relocating to Columbia County is Sassy Scooters. According to a flier, the Broad Street-based scooter store is opening its new store next to Martinez Gold on Washington Road.
On Sept. 1, Appling residents Daniel and Mary Causey opened The Clothesline, their first retail clothing store in the old Appling Post Office near the former Columbia County school board offices. Daniel Causey said his wife had sold designer clothing through Web sites such as eBay for about seven years when they decided to open an actual store.
"Everything we have in here we do have the wholesale price on," Daniel Causey said, adding that the store offers a full line of women's clothing and some jewelry.
Unlike some Richmond County businesses, the Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery's rumored western migration to Columbia County might not happen at all.
"We toyed with the idea of doing some other things, but at this time, we're probably not going to do anything out there," said George Harrison, owner of the Boll Weevil on Ninth Street, on Wednesday.
He said he is considering selling the less than 2-acre tract he bought in Columbia County on Owens Road near the Mullins Crossing shopping center. He cited heavy competition and the high cost of launching a new restaurant as some of the reasons behind his decision.
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