Posted December 2, 2007 07:55 pm - Updated December 5, 2007 12:25 pm

First Citizens wants to be not 'just another bank'

In business, it’s not easy being the new kid on the block.

You have to fight a little harder, work a little smarter and move a little faster than your entrenched competitors to win the hearts and minds of potential consumers.

That’s the situation that Columbia -based First Citizens Bank and Trust Co. is preparing for as it enters the Augusta market.

This year, the company acquired two bank branches (properties spun off in the Wachovia-SouthTrust merger) in the Walton’s Corner shopping center on Walton Way Extension and at the corner of Columbia and Flowing Wells roads in Martinez. Those offices will be open by early March.

The second-largest South Carolina-based bank is also in the process of acquiring three other Augusta-area properties for future office development. And it’s no secret that the privately held company with $6 billion in assets is actively recruiting local bankers to join its team and business leaders for a local advisory board. The bank’s local point man, however, says the company isn’t trying to make a statement through a show of force.
“We’re not just coming to be the 14th competitor in town; we want to be part of the community,” said Kelley Mobley, the First Citizens senior vice president who will be in charge of the Augusta market. “We don’t feel like we’re just another bank.”

Mr. Mobley says you can expect to see the company get involved in Augus­ta’s nonprofit community in a big way.

: Before it was Doris Diamonds, the 4,800-square-foot building at 2820 Washington Road housed a couple of bar/grill-type operations, including daiquiri bar Fat Tuesday.*

It will soon be a bar once again.

Somewhere in Augusta is planning to move from its storefront location in National Hills shopping center to the stand alone structure sometime early next year. Manager Jason Bell said the new location, which is roughly three times the size of Somewhere in Augusta’s current space, should open between mid-January and early February.

“The décor will be similar to what we have now, a lot of TVs and a lot of sports memorabilia,” he said. “We’re trying to keep that same Cheers atmosphere.”

SOMETHING FOR THE SOUTHSIDE: A perennial whine among south Augusta residents is that there just aren’t enough “nice” (read: “chain”) restaurants in their neck of the woods.

Well, one chain that could be heading south is IHOP if county officials approve plans submitted last week to build the city’s third IHOP, on Peach Orchard Road.

The Downie family, which owns the other two IHOP franchises in west Augusta and Columbia County, filed plans to build at 3125 Peach Orchard Road on a 1.5-acre parcel next to University Hospital’s south Richmond campus. Casual dining chain Ruby Tuesday had plans approved nearly two years ago to build a restaurant on the same site but never followed through on the construction.

We’ll see if the Downies can do what the Rubys can’t.

RACK ’EM UP: Though it’s not a “chain” restaurant, or even a “restaurant” in the classic sense, the Rack & Grill pool hall in Martinez could be expanding to the southside.

Owners of the tavern are going through the regulatory motions to open a second hall, Rack & Grill II, at 3801 Mike Padgett Highway, about three-quarters of a mile south of Tobacco Road.

The development, if approved, could complement the future southside IHOP, because nothing tastes better than sausage and pancakes after a night of drinking beer and shooting pool. Or so I’ve been told.

WHO SAYS THIS TOWN CAN’T ATTRACT QUALITY ENTERTAINMENT?: If your office is a little deserted Tuesday , it might be because all the movers and shakers are gettin’ their motivation on (snap, snap) at the Zig Ziglar-Robert Schuler** business seminar extravaganza at Bell Auditorium.

Opening acts at the daylong motivational seminar include you-can-do-it talks from a self-made billionaire and a WNBA star.

If you’re reading this first thing Monday morning (like the cool kids do), it’s not too late to be a part of this Woodstock for overachievers. Call (800) 445-2162 to find out the details.

MY FRIENDS ALL DRIVE PORSCHES: By the time you read this, the Mercedes-Benz of Augusta dealership on Washington Road will have been acquired by Houston-based Group 1 Automotive, which owns nearly 100 other dealerships across the United States.
Not much else to say on that one.

YOUR MONEY’S NO GOOD HERE: There is no charge to be on the state’s Do Not Call list, the registry that keeps your phone number off telemarketers’ lists, but that doesn’t stop people from mailing checks to the Georgia Public Service Commission, which administers the list.

The commission recently said it returns an average of 20 checks to consumers each month, and is, apparently, getting tired of paying the postage.

“While it may be unusual for a governmental agency to say it, 'We don’t want your money!’” the commission said in a statement released last month.

Registering your number on the federal no-call list automatically enrolls you on your state’s list as well. Get on the federal Do Not Call Registry by calling (888) 382-1222 or going to

THE CHECKS IN THE MAIL: Every once in a while, a non pornographic Internet venture comes along that makes me say, “Wow. What a nifty idea.”

The latest is, a site that alerts landlords to potential “bad tenants” (that is, deadbeats). For a $10 registration fee, landlords can receive one year’s access to a national list of people identified by fellow landlords as being prone to late rent payments, causing property damage and particularly adept at thwarting the eviction process.

As the site says, “Before you rent to, know who not to rent to.”

* Which, nearly 10 years later, I still can’t believe closed,considering the number of college students, soldiers and assorted locals who spend their “night on the town” on that section of Washington Road.

** Don’t feel stupid if you’ve never heard of these people. The important thing to know is that many important people consider them to be important people. So that makes them, um, important.