Aiken, SC– Growth can be seen in one local city by the increase in places to get something to eat.
For people who live in town, this growth is happening on the south side of town, about one mile from The Fresh Market. You typically hear about one new restaurant coming, but in this case there are three and a few other businesses.
Mark Gentry manages the Cork & Bull Pub on Whiskey Road, right next door to where construction is happening on new restaurants. Whiskey Road will soon be home to a Chipotle Mexican Grill, a first for the CSRA.
“I’ve never ate there. I look forward to them opening. I’d like to try it,” Gentry told us.
John Sharpe, who lives in town, said, “I don’t know what they have, but I’m willing to try it.”
Tommy Paradise tells News Channel 6 a Theresa’s used to occupy the site several years ago, but it was in bad shape. He said clearing the area made it attractive to developers and useful to the people who live in this growing city.
“Pretty much prime real estate. It had been used. It had buildings standing on it. By clearing the buildings off and putting new buildings on it, it gives it that fresh new look,” he said.
It isn’t just tacos coming to town. Aiken citizens can enjoy coffee in the city’s first drive through Starbucks.
“I like Starbucks. I drink my share of coffee, for sure,” Gentry said.
We reached out to Starbucks, which confirmed that a store is coming to 1935 Whiskey Road in Aiken. A spokesperson said Starbucks is always looking for great locations to better meet the needs of its customers.
Panera Bread is also slated to come to the area, just a few doors down from Chipotle and Starbucks. Franchise Partner Bo Gdovin told us, “It’s been on our radar for quite some time. There are two cafes in Augusta and we had been driving through Aiken. It has great retail, space, people who love Panera and lots of great things going for it.”
Three additional businesses will join the bread company, a vitamin store, a mattress store and Aspen Dental.
“I think it’s good for the economy. More businesses and more jobs,” Sharpe said.
Paradise told us Aiken had an economic slump after the rest of the country was hit with a recession, but the Chamber of Commerce is reporting those numbers are increasing.
He said, “We’ve got some things that have come to fruition and then we’ve got some things that are on the table.”
There are more places to eat popping up in Aiken. Paradise added there is a Marcos Pizza coming to Silver Bluff Road. Two Bojangles restaurants are coming too, one near Highway 1 and one near The Fresh Market. There is also a Waffle House being built near Crosland Park.