From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

Who moved my (pimento) cheese?

In last week’s Scuttlebiz, I declared I was finished commenting on the Masters Tournament for the year, but that was before I heard a tidbit about a new food-service company vying for the tournament’s concession business.
It appears a Chicago-basedcatering company Levy Restau­rants is moving into the role of concession manager for Augusta National Golf Club’s tournament. For years the job belonged to a local company, Collie Concessions.
Sources* say Levy staffers from Jacksonville, Fla., where the company provides food at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium, were at the tournament learning the ropes for their transition into long-term service. The company, a division of Britain’s Compass Group PLC, a $23.5 billion company, also provides food at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and American Airlines Arena in Miami.
When contacted, a Levy spokeswoman could not immediately provide details on the deal.
Augusta National, which almost never discusses club business, declined to comment.
A phone message left with Collie Concessions’ owner Alex G. Collie III was not returned.
In the grand scheme of things, there probably will be no major changes to the tournament’s time-honored (read: inexpensive and tasty) snacks, such as pimento cheese sandwiches** and $2 beers.
It doesn’t matter who Augusta National pays to dispense goodies – anyone who takes the contract is going to deliver exactly what the club wants, recipe and price included.

THE LION ROARS; WILL CONSUMERS YAWN? In case you needed one more example of why the Evans Town Center plan is a failure, here it is: Developers are planning to build a Food Lion-anchored strip mall at the corner of Washington and Belair Roads, on parcels in front of the recently built The Home Depot store.
More on Food Lion in a minute. First, I have to rant about the so-called Evans Town Center plan. As the name suggests, the plan’s goal was to turn a 1.5-mile radius centered at the Washington-Belair intersection into a traditional town center, complete with quaint boutiques, restaurants and parks. Officials specifically sought to discourage large strip malls and other generic big-box developments.
Columbia County’s then-director of planning and zoning said it was designed to “ensure a high-quality environment” in Evans.
Now, 14 years after the plan’s conception, what has become of the “town center?” Drive around the area (if you can stand the traffic) and you’ll see nothing that resembles a traditional town and everything that resembles typical suburbia: Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Dollar General and so on.
Whatever vision the plan laid out has been systematically nullified by county leaders who roll over like a kayak in rough water the moment a developer lands a commercial tenant.
That brings us to Food Lion.
The Salisbury, N.C., company is a fine, tax-paying corporate citizen but certainly not the type of “high-end” retailer that developer Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial Corp. and its partners pitched to the public when it bought the 21-acre site formerly occupied by Evans Middle School.
Based on the architectural drawings I’ve seen, the store is clearly a Food Lion, not the company’s upscale “Bloom” concept that is starting to crop up in the Carolinas.
A Food Lion spokeswoman would not comment.
There’s already a Food Lion not far from the site at the corner of Old Petersburg and Old Evans roads. Anyone want to bet on which one closes first?

NOT EXACTLY BREAKING NEWS: Some people have forgotten that The Augusta Chronicle last month reported a Cracker Barrel was going to be built at the corner of Washington and Belair roads (in the same shopping center as the aforementioned Food Lion and The Home Depot). So I just wanted to remind you: A Cracker Barrel is going to be built at Washington and Belair roads.
A side note: The location is unique in that nearly 90 percent of Cracker Barrel locations, such as the one near the Belair Road-Interstate 20 interchange, are on interstate highways.
Whether the new location will be more or less crowded than the existing one on Sunday morning remains to be seen.

A SHORT COMMUTE? Employees at the FPL Food slaughterhouse on New Savannah Road might have to drive to Lexington County (west of Columbia) if they want to stay employed with the beef-processing company.
Last week, FPL, which longtime residents remember by its former name, Shapiro Packing Co., announced it would be shifting work from Augusta to its new facility in South Carolina. About 100 jobs could be lost.
The company’s Web site says it employs about 700 people in Augusta, where it processes beef for companies such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.

SPEAKING OF BURGERS: A reader posted a reply to a recent Scuttlebiz that said Five Guys Burgers and Fries was coming to the Evans area. The Evans Town Center to be exact (again?).
I haven’t been able to confirm that because I’m playing the world’s longest game of phone tag with the company’s spokeswoman (Molly, call me!). The Richmond, Va.-based chain has several locations in Georgia, including two in Athens.
If it does come here, it’s likely to give the market’s other burger joints a run for their money. The company appears to have a cult following rivaled only by In-N-Out Burger, a West Coast chain that, if it located here, would be the sole recipient of my hamburger expenditures.

HISTORY LESSON: The recent bankruptcy and closing of the Friedman’s jewelry store chain would have no more resonance here than the closing of any other chain except for one thing: Friedman’s has roots here.
In 1909, Sam Segall started a jewelry store in Savannah, Ga. His nephews Abraham and Benjamin Friedman took over when he died, naming the business Friedman’s Jewelers in 1924. Abraham moved to Augusta and brought his share of the company with him. The brothers later split up their seven stores. Abraham named his A.A. Friedman. Having two companies with “Friedman” in the name didn’t pose a problem until the companies grew so large that they began to overlap.
Under a lawsuit settled in 1997, Abraham’s 137-store chain became Marks & Morgan. Benjamin’s Friedman’s Jewelers became a publicly traded company that grew to 455 stores nationwide under the Friedman’s and Cresent brand names.
Augusta-based Marks & Morgan ceased to exist in 2000 when Susan Morgan, daughter of company Chairwoman Betty Friedman (whose maiden name was Marks) sold the firm to Signet Group PLC in a deal worth $160 million.
Benjamin’s half of the business, whose liquidation is now being overseen by three national firms, is unloading $400 million worth of inventory and seeking a buyer for its remaining locations.

* “Sources” means “a banker I know who was at the course.”
** The pimento cheese is the most revered concession item, but the barbecue sandwich is the most underrated.

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canuckinaugusta
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canuckinaugusta 04/27/08 - 06:30 pm
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Food lion? Oh my, what a let

Food lion? Oh my, what a let down. I don't believe that this would be profitable for Food Lion; there is a Publix, Kroeger, Taget and Walmart within 1/4 mile. Why not a Barnes and Noble?

dhd1108
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dhd1108 04/28/08 - 05:15 am
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oh throw up. good taste goes

oh throw up. good taste goes out the window in favor of big corporation's big money. say what you will about augusta's "crime ridden" downtown, at least when you squint it looks pretty nice. say, bring that food lion downtown! downtown's been in dire need of a grocery store ever since gurleys on green street shut down.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 04/28/08 - 11:09 am
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First it was the local fans

First it was the local fans losing out on Masters tickets to out of towners. Local businesses and homeowners capitalized on the out of towners. Now, local businesses are losing out on Masters business to out of town businesses. Augusta loses.

4725
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4725 04/28/08 - 12:05 pm
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five Guys IS

five Guys IS coming.....Regional VP Emailed me AFTER I emailed Corporate about a location here.He said they have Inked a deal somewhere in Evans in front of a new Home Depot. That's all I know he said...We will be serving this year by October....Ps... The BBQ was awful this year at the Masters....That cold, stuff was usually good....I don't know what that mess was this year !

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04/29/08 - 01:11 pm
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Actually, the Evans Town

Actually, the Evans Town Center has become just what was planned. Shopping centers were planned and zoned at the Wal-Mart, Target, and Lowes sites years before the Town Center community planning sessions in 1999. It is a matter of public record that the town center consultant was charged with evaluating the alternative sites for the courthouse which was to be the nucleus for the town center. Their recommendation was to develop the land that now is planned as Marshall Square. During the debates over the Town Center ordinance, the residential owners immediately demanded to be excluded. (They since have done the same for the Node overlays, too) Successful town centers are inclusive of all, with none left out. This immediately undermined the ability to restrict commercial property owners, who also wanted out. We have what was planned. Town Centers require developers willing to risk their own money or massive public funding in the $tens of millions. At the time Evans had neither. Fortunately Marshall Square is a chance to have the downtown concept, yet. A 1.5 mile radius Town Center was never possible. There was no funding to buy the land and the existing zoning, development, and land use defied the restrictive ordinance initially proposed. 1.5 miles takes in Industrial Park and the printing plant, with no way to make such uses conform. The sales tax revenue from Wal-Mart and Target funded the new library, courthouse, and the soon-to-be park. Lowes, Home Depot, and Food Lion will provide sales tax revenues for future projects. Outside of the nucleus, the Town Center plan succeeded in gaining upgraded architectural finishes, signage, and landscaping for the long-planned commercial centers. What was achieved might not be what some folks think was 'sold,' but the results look pretty good, considering what was possible.

foosox
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foosox 04/29/08 - 07:05 pm
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Last year I attented both

Last year I attented both the Masters and the U.S. Women's Open in Pine Needles. I was quite disappointed in the food at Augusta National. While Pine Needles was great! A much better selection, hot food and better value. All this from a venue that holds a major event once every 5 years or so - not every year.

r11mcbell
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r11mcbell 09/30/08 - 01:35 pm
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Someone needs to give credit

Someone needs to give credit to Ron Cross. What a wonderful job he has done on this once very rural area. We have revenue being generated which will now be used to generate other quality projects and steady sources of future revenue. Good job, Ron and staff.

r11mcbell
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r11mcbell 09/30/08 - 01:36 pm
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Someone needs to give credit

Someone needs to give credit to Ron Cross. What a wonderful job he has done on this once very rural area. We have revenue being generated which will now be used to generate other quality projects and steady sources of future revenue. Good job, Ron and staff.

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