Scuttlebiz: Pep Boys heading west on Washington Road

Manny, Moe and Jack will take a four-minute drive down Washington Road this fall.

 

The Pep Boys’ auto parts store and service center at 2728 Washington Road will soon be relocating two miles west to 3127 Washington Road on a nearly 1-acre tract currently occupied by Tudors Cleaners and a home on Beverly Heights Drive.

You may recall Pep Boys’ former 1.75-acre National Hills property was bought earlier this year by everybody’s favorite golf club for nearly $7 million. It appears the three best friends your car ever had have committed to a spot next to Goodwill Industries’ Augusta administrative offices; construction bids have been put out by the Clearwater, Fla.-based company developing the site on behalf of the Philadelphia-based retailer.

A Pep Boys spokesman confirmed via email that work starts next month. He said construction would be completed by late November, which coincides with the vacate-the-premises date an employee at the store told me this past week.

Based on renderings, the new store will be about one-third the size of the one it is set to replace. That store, built in the late 1980s at nearly 20,000-square-feet, devotes much of its space to merchandise – mostly parts, car stereo equipment, pretty-but-useless chrome accessories and those little tree-shaped air fresheners that make cops think your vehicle should be searched.

The new store will look more like a straight-up service center. So if it’s rear-view mirror trees and bolt-on exhaust tips you seek, you’ll need to head to the AutoZone on the opposite end of the Goodwill complex.

Pep Boys’ store at 1725 Gordon Highway is unaffected by the west Augusta relocation.

SPEAKING OF NEW DEVELOPMENTS: The Your Pie build-your-own pizza chain has become the first tenant to sign on at The Plaza at Evans Towne Center other than Meybohm Realtors, which – in addition to being the developer of the 26-acre downtown-style project – will headquarter its Columbia County office there.

Blanchard & Calhoun Vice President Davis Beman, the tenant rep for Athens, Ga.-based Your Pie, said the future restaurant will occupy more than 3,200 square feet, making it the chain’s largest floor plan to date. The brick-oven bistro is scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2018.

Being across from the Evans Towne Center Park/Lady Antebellum Pavillion and just a stone’s throw from the county’s future 2,000-seat performing arts center, you can be assured the restaurant will need every one of those 3,200 square feet of space on certain nights.

The 35-unit fast-casual chain opened its first metro area location on Georgia Avenue in North Augusta earlier this year. Its new Grovetown restaurant, across from the Gateway shopping center at 252 Meridan Drive, is expected to open in November.

PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA: The Plaza’s Your Pie will be a par 4 from several other pizza joints, including The Pizza Joint and Mellow Mushroom. But don’t forget about the other artisan-style pizzeria coming to town, MOD Pizza, which will share a 4,500-square-foot outparcel with Chipotle Mexican Grill in front of Augusta Exchange’s Target store. The parking lot already is being torn up, so expect a building up by the end of the year.

VETERAN AGENTS, NEW COMPANY: If commercial real estate is your business, you probably recognize the names of Steve Collins, David Rivers and Ryan McArdle. What you might not know is the name of their new company: The Palomar Group.

The trio, all formerly of Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial and Southestern Development Associates, announced this week the formation of a full-service brokerage.

The team, which has focused on income-producing property sales since 2013, last year did more than $200 million in volume in seven states. Its last deal with Southeastern was facilitating the sale of Chesapeake, Va.’s Greenbrier Square, a 260,602-square-foot Kroger-anchored center that also had a Dick’s Sporting Goods, HomeGoods, Five Below and Tuesday Morning.

“Our team offers the unique ability to handle client transactions across the country with our primary focus being the Southeast,” Collins, the managing partner, said in a statement.

A SEAT AT THE TABLE: With Augusta University expanding its footprint in the central business district – its name will soon top the former Wells Fargo building – it was only a matter of time before one of its administrators would end up on the city’s Downtown Development Authority. This past week the revitalization organization’s board of directors appointed Jack Evans to fill the seat vacated by Phoenix Printing’s Joey Hadden.

The appointment requires final approval by the Augusta Commission. It should sail through considering Evans’ unanimous approval by the downtown board. As the university’s No. 2 communications and marketing exec, he’ll likely be the one the board turns to for institution-related insights.

PASS THE BOTTLE: Sweeping changes to Georgia’s alcohol laws take effect Sept. 1. Breweries and distilleries now can sell up to 3,000 barrels of beer and 500 barrels of spirits directly to consumers. For off-site alcohol consumption, Georgians can purchase up to a case of suds or three 750-milliliter bottles of hooch.

According to a report at the recent Downtown Development Authority meeting, the first area company likely to take advantage of the relaxed rules will be a South Carolina company that plans to put a micro distillery on Broad Street.

Though the company wasn’t mentioned by name, it is pretty obvious who the authority was talking about. When I contacted the owners, they confirmed their plans but declined to disclose the name of the venture or the location they intend to lease, citing legal reasons.

So look for more details at a later date. I certainly don’t want to sour their business venture before they can mash out the details. See what I did there?

WAFFLES FROM WINE: The ramshackle liquor store at 1631 Walton Way is going away. A Waffle House is slated to occupy the half-acre parcel currently housing the boarded-up Walton Way Wine & Spirits. Since some folks in the medical district work odd hours; I’m sure they’d appreciate the occasional All-Star Special and cup o’ joe after a long shift.

PALMETTO MOON SHINES ON AUGUSTA: Palmetto Moon, a Charleston, S.C., specialty retailer is bringing its Southern lifestyle brand of novelty and gift items to the Augusta Mall’s promenade area. Looking for a Simply Southern t-shirt? A teal-colored YETI Rambler? A Clemson polo shirt? Palmetto Moon is your place. Look for the store to open by the end of the month, Augusta Mall officials say.

GOING, GOING, GONE: Don’t expect to shop much longer at Augusta’s Gander Mountain store. The latest in the will-it-close-or-not saga is that it’s kaput. According to the latest (and hopefully final) tweet on the matter from Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis, the only Georgia stores to remain open are in Valdosta and Newnan.

Lemonis, a CNBC celebrity who purchased Gander Mountain stores out of bankruptcy nearly three months ago, is rebranding the 57 stores as Gander Outoors and Overton’s.

BUT WE STILL HAVE CABELA’S: This past week, shareholders of Nebraska-based Cabela’s approved the company’s $4 billion sale to rival outdoor chain Bass Pro Shops of Springfield, Mo.

This means two things: Augusta should have a Cabela’s for a long time, and that it’s probably never going to get a Bass Pro Shops.

If you’ve never been to the store, feel free to drop by between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on July 22 to meet the store’s new general manager, Edric Winford, and the always delightful marketing rep, Courtney Davis. They’ll appreciate the feedback on how to make the store even better.

I’m running a little low on 5.56, so you might even see me there.

MORE IN STORE: Cabela Drive runs through the middle of the Village at Riverwatch development, which is getting an Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers shop directly across from the Costco as well as a separate 12,000-square-foot strip center that will extend to the corner of Cabela and Delta drives, opposite the Riverwatch Luxury Cinemas theater.

Look for ground to break soon on the strip center project, which is being managed by Jordan Trotter Commercial Real Estate. The upscale apartment complex just east of the Riverwatch Cinemas, Riverwatch Apartments, looks nearly half complete.

ALL GOWNS MUST GO: After 57 years in business, Charlotte’s Bridal Fashions in Aiken is having its retirement sale. The liquidation started Thursday and lasts until all inventory is sold, so if you’re in the market for a bridal gown, prom or pageant dress or just a new pair of shoes, head over to 142 Laurens St. SW before everything is gone.

SMALL BUSINESS BLUES: The latest National Federation of Independent Business monthly optimism index showed business owners’ expectations for better conditions tumbled in June because of gridlock in the Senate over the health care reform bill, NFIB President Juanita Duggan said.

The Index fell 0.9 points to 103.6. It had shot up in November on the expectation Congress and President Trump would reform taxes and health care.

“As Washington fails to deliver on those two priorities small business optimism is dropping,” said Duggan.

CYBERSECURITY, HOWEVER, IS STILL BOOMING: Those wondering how metro Augusta’s military cybersecurity complex is leading to private ventures need look no further than Rendition InfoSec LLC, which this past week announced Augusta as its corporate headquarters.

The network security provider and consulting firm, founded by former National Security Agency analyst Jake Williams, is operating out of offices on 401 Warren Road. With incidents such as the WannaCry ransomware attack and the hacking into 198 million U.S. voter rolls becoming de rigueur, Williams & Co. ought to be busy for the foreseeable future.

A FINAL TIP: Call me old-fashioned, but I believe tips for service sector workers should actually reflect their level of service: Average service, average tip; excellent service, excellent tip.

At restaurants, my usual tip falls in the 15-18 percent range, which, according to a recent CreditCards.com survey, suggests I may be a female Democrat.

The subsidiary of Bankrate.com says the best tippers tend to be men, Republicans, Northeasterners and heavy users of credit and debit cards – all of whom tip a median of 20 percent when eating out. On the contrary, women and Democrats generally give up 16 percent, while Southerners and cash users in particular offer a median 15 percent tip.

One in five restaurant diners leave no gratuity at all, according to the survey.

“I was definitely surprised by how many people tip over 15 percent,” said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst. “But I was also surprised by how many people never tip at all at a restaurant. How is that even possible? I’m guessing they don’t get very good service on their next visit.”

That would be my guess, too.

 

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

 

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