Business in Columbia County continues to boom, officials say, and retailers' newest offerings meet a variety of needs.
The latest new businesses in the area include a gourmet burger restaurant that will bring about 100 jobs to Evans, a custom gift basket shop in Martinez and a pet groomer north of Appling.
Karen Chrjapin, the newly named executive director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, said an "eclectic" mix of businesses is strengthening the local economy.
"From my observation, yes, we are still booming, the county (economy) is still booming," she said. As the county is growing, more retail offerings are brought to the table, she said.
"That's what makes a county interesting and vibrant is having that mix," she said. "I just think that's what makes this an interesting place to live."
In early April, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers will open its first location in the Augusta area at Mullins Crossing on Washington Road, according to a news release.
The Colorado-based chain of more than 350 restaurants was founded in 1969 and serves about 22 unique burgers, in addition to salads, soups and specialty drinks.
The company is looking to hire about 100 servers, cooks and additional staff. Interested job seekers can apply at the restaurant or by phone at (706) 566-1330.
In Martinez, sisters Linda Schmitt and Susan Myers recently opened Big Hit Gift Baskets at 193 Baston Road next to Edible Artistry.
After 10 years making gift baskets at home and two years doing it full time, the sisters decided to branch out to a store, Schmitt said.
"After a few prayers, we jumped in with both feet," she said. Big Hit also carries costume jewelry, cachet candles and pet treats and supplies.
The staff at Big Hit said they can create gift baskets in nearly any theme for any special occasion including holidays, birthdays and weddings.
Gift baskets for Masters guests, a Southern Charm basket with Augusta-themed goodies and collegiate and pro-sports themed baskets are popular, Schmitt said.
North of Appling in the Phinizy community, Diane Wolff recently opened Dog Gone Cute, a pet grooming salon on Bennett Road near the intersection of Ray Owens and Cobbham roads.
Running an appointment-only business, Wolff said she can accommodate any breed of dog and has experience with rare breeds.
Wolff said she began grooming dogs in 2003 and trained at a Charleston, S.C., company that groomed dogs competing in the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show.
"I am very centrally located, and it doesn't matter if you're in Evans, Martinez, Harlem or Grovetown, I'm 10 to 15 minutes away from everybody," Wolff said.
Also in Evans, crews are nearing completion of the new Wifesaver Restaurant at the corner of North Belair and Furys Ferry roads.
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