South Carolina’s Thoroughbred Country Adds Fresh New Attractions for 2021

Aiken, South Carolina | I-95 Exit Guide

Located just an hour and a half west of I-95 and situated along I-20, between Atlanta and Charleston and just east of Augusta, Georgia, Thoroughbred Country South Carolina, is known for equestrian adventures, rolling hills, stately plantation-style homes, antique galleries and small towns that are passionate about preservation. But the area from Aiken to North Augusta, and from Allendale to Barnwell to Denmark, is all about the lively, the fresh and the new. Here are more than 15 new openings, from accommodations to bakeries and boutiques, to a lavender farm to mini-golf and more. Each demonstrates that businesses are opening even during challenging times, and that flexibility and resilience are part of the DNA of the hospitality and tourism industry.

Rose Hill, Aiken–Reopened September 2020 under new ownership

Located on almost five acres in downtown Aiken, Rose Hill includes expansive gardens with hidden delights, a gazebo garden, chapel and more. The circa 1898 Main House is one of the few remaining Aiken Winter Colony homes and features an exquisite staircase, lead glass windows, fireplaces and other historic details. Along with drinks and dining in The Stables Restaurant and Sheffield’s in the Main House, Rose Hill is a destination that offers inviting indoor and outdoor wedding and meeting spaces. 221 Greenville St NW, Aiken, South Carolina 29801; 803-648-1181

The Sandwich Shop, Williston–Opened June 2020

This dine-in and take-out spot was established to bring back popular items from the much-loved Williston Sub Deli, to the delight of locals. Starreatha “Star” Perry’s high school job has turned into a new business for herself and her husband Russell, who have enjoyed a steady stream of customers since opening. The menu includes classic and Italian subs, salads and a kid’s menu. Other items of note: house-made lemonade; a twist on a Cobb Salad that includes grilled shrimp; and the Sandwich Shop Special, a combo of ham, turkey, salami, pepperoni and bacon with provolone and swiss, served with brother Jesse’s house sauce. 13035 Main St, Williston, South Carolina 29853; (803) 989-9480;

Sheila’s Baking Co., North Augusta–Opened June 2020

What started as a teen obsession with baking turned into a sweet food bus and now, a storefront. Sheila Martin moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia to gain bakery experience, then launched the bakery bus with the help of her brother and father. The shop is a sweet dream come true, expanding the menu and creating a place for community. Signature items at Sheila’s are donuts, apple fritters, cinnamon rolls with brown butter cream cheese icing and Czech Kolaches (fruit-filled puff pastries). Sheila’s also sells coffee made by North Augusta-based Stone Roastery. 434 Georgia Ave, North Augusta, South Carolina 29841; 803-646-0668

Ginger Bee Boutique, downtown Aiken–Opened July 2020 

A recent USC Aiken business management graduate, owner Brooke Thomas wanted to create a store to showcase her line of affordable handmade jewelry paired with on-trend women’s apparel and footwear. Undeterred by the challenging retail environment brought on by the pandemic she ordered merchandise, prepped the space and opened while still attending online classes. Her decidedly realistic expectations have been met with surprising success. 110 Laurens St SW, Aiken, South Carolina 29801; (803) 226-0340

La Parisienne French Restaurant and Bakery, downtown Aiken–Opened August 2020 

Blending classic French recipes with modern American style, the bakery offers an array of fresh pastries cakes, and breads, while the restaurant serves stylish and delicious innovations on classic French recipes. Look for Monte Cristo and Croque Monsieur sandwiches, Salade frisée with poached duck eggs and bacon, as well as specials like Poached Salmon with Dijon beurre or Seared Scallops in prosciutto garlic lemon butter sauce. La Parisienne serves breakfast, lunch and brunch with a wine, cocktail and beer menu. 233 Chesterfield Street, Aiken, South Carolina 29801; (803) 226-0899

Smoothie Groove, Aiken–Opened October 2020

Artwork. Music. Juice Bar. This business brings a unique spin to all-natural smoothies and juices, using almond milk, coconut milk and coconut water bases in surprising combinations and DIY combos. Just a taste of the menu: pineapple-lemon-ginger smoothies, Turmeric Chili Matcha Green tea and lemon blueberry muffins. Try their breakfast bowls or the Banana Boat–a healthy helping of fruit and granola topping. Muffins, soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps make this a well-rounded breakfast, lunch and after-work destination. 448 Fabian Drive, Aiken South Carolina, 29803; (803) 226-9024

Fuse, Aiken–Opened November 2020 

International cuisine and local ingredients make global exploration accessible to all in this stylish new restaurant. Co-owner/Chef Chris “Naj” Najmola and his team strive to create the next “wow” moment. That means along with comfort fare, traditional dishes often include an adventurous international detour: Japanese sticky rice nigiri is topped with house smoked brisket and horseradish; a Fuse Burger includes duck fat aioli, a fried duck egg, mixed greens and cheddar. Braised Beef Trader Stew includes spices not found in the traditional Southern pot roast, along with golden beets, baby carrots and fingerling potatoes, accompanied by Naan and herbed yogurt. 222 The Alley SW, Aiken, South Carolina 29801; (803) 357-0685 

King George Lavender, Barnwell–Opened September 2020 

Growing up on a farm, George Poole has loved animals and agriculture since childhood, while his wife Elinor has had a lifelong love of gardening and horticulture, especially lavender. This love match grew into a dream business when they bought a farm in Barnwell in 2016. The family business includes children and grandchildren, who create fragrant and soothing products for bath and body, pet and home care and décor. Farm tours are planned later in 2021. 490 Daisy Lane, Barnwell, South Carolina 29812; (803) 300-1117

Cork and Cap Bottle Shop and Fine Provisions, downtown Aiken–Opened September 2020 

Husband and wife team Erin and James Alford created the concept for Cork and Cap on their first date. Since then, James, a veteran wine professional, and Erin, a credentialed food, wine and culture connoisseur, have opened their own neighborhood bottle shop—a space to offer the handcrafted wine, beer and artisan products they’ve spent a lifetime loving and studying. Set in a restored historic cottage, the store offers an impressive selection of fine wine, craft beer and cider. Gourmet goodies include rare and unusual pickled and preserved Conserva that complement the beverages. Vino veteran James can offer advice about pairings, from boiled peanuts to specialty chocolates and cheeses, to Spiced Sardine Pâté and Spicy Anchovies. Just try and stump him. 146 Laurens St. NW, Aiken, South Carolina 29801; (803) 761-0768

Red Crow Dining, Allendale–Opened October 2020 

Who says fast food and dining are incompatible? Boasting the motto “Savor the Flavor,” this new establishment begs to differ. Feast on Native American, Creole, homemade Cubans, Po Boy sandwiches and much more. Also, on the menu are fried seafood platters, chicken wings and other Southern favorites, but don’t overlook the specials, like Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Beef Stew with potatoes, okra, corn and sausage. Desserts include Red Velvet Cake and Sweet Potato Pie. 414 Main St. S., Allendale, South Carolina 29827; (803) 398-1896

Auggie’s Acres at SRP Park, North Augusta–Opened October 2020 

Auggie’s Acres is a rare and engaging all-natural-grass, nine-hole miniature golf experience located in the Augusta University Health Kids Zone. The par 21 course features a sand trap, an E-Z-GO shuttle, Bridgestone tire and wooden obstacle features. A different and unique daily setup provides ever-changing challenges. Players are encouraged to bring their own putter; however sanitized putters are available. A portion of admission benefits Children’s Hospital of Georgia. SRP Park anchors Riverside Village, a live, work, play development which includes a Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center.  

187 Railroad Ave, North Augusta, South Carolina 29841; (803) 349-9467

Finicky Bean Mobile Coffee Shop, Allendale–Opened November 2020 

Food truck meets gourmet coffee cart. This business offers fair-trade, organic dark and medium roast coffees, herbal teas, lemonade and other refreshments, bagels and cream cheese, pastries, chewies and more. Owners Mae and Nate Hartley applied for and won a Local Entrepreneur Acceleration Program (LEAP) competition which gave them partial seed capital funding from the South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF). Look for them in Allendale, South Carolina.

MacK’s, Downtown Aiken–Opened January 2021 

David Kangas has wanted to own a sub shop since age 15 and gained plenty of experience during college. After a stint in corporate America, his plan has come about with the support of family and his wife Amy. The deli, named after their daughter Mackenzi, serves Jersey-style cheesesteaks and handcrafted sandwiches, along with specialty salads, soups, sides, desserts and drinks. Taking it to another level, his special touches include house marinated/breaded and spiced meats, house-made coleslaw, bacon jam and more. 159 Laurens Street, NW Aiken, South Carolina 29801; (803) 226-0841

Macaluso’s Restaurant, Aiken–Coming Soon 

After 22 years of success in South Miami, chef Michael Vito D’Andrea has relocated his authentic and popular Italian restaurant to South Carolina. Much to the delight of his followers, his scrumptious pasta sauces and other products can be purchased to take or send home. Upstairs, the upscale lounge Rose Bar at Macaluso’s will serve signature cocktails, champagne, wine and beer accompanied by live jazz. 135 York Street, SE, Aiken, South Carolina 29801 (803) 262-5334;

The Etherredge Center at U of SC Aiken–2021 update

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been especially challenging for the arts, but the Etherredge Center has worked closely with the University of South Carolina Aiken administration, the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to follow best practices and protocols. Many health and safety measures have been taken, including seating at up to 50 percent of the Main Stage capacity. To learn more, visit the U of SC Aiken’s “Ready, Set, Return Mitigation Plan,” found at Located on the campus of the University of South Carolina Aiken, the Etherredge Center houses an art gallery, the O’Connell Theater and a larger Main stage theater. To view upcoming performance schedules and changes, visit the main website. 471 University Parkway Aiken, South Carolina 29801; (803) 641-3305; 

SRS Museum Virtual Exhibit–Launched November 2020

Located in the historic Dibble building in downtown Aiken, visitors to the Savannah River Site Museum can experience life at the Savannah River Site (SRS) and learn more about South Carolina’s role in winning the Cold War through stories and artifacts. The SRS Museum recently completed installation of a new exhibit, “6,000 Stories,” that details life before the plant in surrounding communities and now an accompanying virtual exhibit, “In My Heart Forever” has been launched to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the announcement of the SRS.  

Savannah River Site–New SRS Virtual Tour – Launched January 2021

The Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site is responsible for environmental stewardship, environmental cleanup, waste management disposition of nuclear materials and maintaining our nation’s nuclear deterrence system. This virtual tour is designed to provide educational information about the SRS and its major areas as well as some past, present and future activities. 224 Laurens St SW, Aiken, South Carolina 29801; (803) 648-1437; 

Augusta GreenJackets’ Atlanta Braves Affiliate invitation–Announced December 2020 

Long loved by baseball insiders and fans, the Augusta GreenJackets have had major league affiliations with the Pirates (1988-1998), the Red Sox (1999-2004) and the San Francisco Giants (2005-2020). Now, the Atlanta Braves have invited the Augusta GreenJackets to become a Class A affiliate within the player development system. Once details are finalized, SRP Park will be the Low-A home to Braves top prospects. Surrounded by restaurants, shops and a view of the Savannah river, SRP Park is the center of North Augusta’s thriving downtown scene. It anchors Riverside Village, a live, work, play development which includes a Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center. 

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