Originally created 07/05/97

Business briefs



Markets closed for Independence Day

Markets in the United States were closed Friday because of the Fourth of July holiday.

Restaurants face crossroads

COLUMBIA - Columbia's two oldest downtown restaurants both stand at a crossroads this week.

The Elite Epicurean, located at 1736 Main St., was expected to close Thursday unless a prospective buyer makes a commitment, owner Veron Melonas said late Wednesday. The Epicurean opened for business in 1932.

The Capitol Restaurant, the city's oldest eating establishment, was sold earlier this week. The new owners plan to retain the basic character of the 92-year-old business and popular hangout for everyone from blue-collar workers to Supreme Court judges.

Company closes practice

ATLANTA - Columbia/HCA Healthcare is closing a popular ob/gyn practice in Decatur, Ga., but Wednesday defended the decision as its only option.

Atlanta Women's Health Care will shut its doors July 31, barring a last-minute purchase by another organization.

Columbia owns fewer than 50 doctor's practices in Georgia, and the company said this is the first to close. The operation is unprofitable, it said.

Hotel management changes

ATLANTA - The Atlanta-based Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. will get its first China location Jan. 1 when it takes over management of the Portman Shangri-La Hotel in the Shanghai Centre complex. The hotel was architect-developer John C. Portman Jr.'s initial venture into China.

The 605-room, 7-year-old hotel will become the Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, the chain's ninth hotel in the region.

Sears dodging lawsuits

CHICAGO - Sears, Roebuck and Co. is trying to prevent investors from suing as it refunds bankrupt credit card customers money it admitted it illegally collected from them and passed to some large investors.

Influential institutional investors hold $6.7 billion worth of Sears credit card debt in the form of asset-backed securities.

Some of the estimated $412 million that Sears has been collecting from bankrupt debtors since 1992 flowed to these investors.

The Chicago-based retailer has agreed to repay as much as $225 million to bankrupt borrowers, but the company said it won't ask investors to repay any of the money it has passed on to them from those same debtors.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the matter.

Grand opening continues

AIKEN Ä Henna Chevrolet-Oldsmobile L.L.C., the new owner of the former west Aiken Riley Vernon Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Geo, will continue its grand opening 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at the dealership, 3625 Richland Ave. West. The celebration, which started Friday, will include an emergency roadside tire changing clinic, ribbon-cutting ceremony and a display of the vehicle painting process. For more information, call (803) 649-6236 or 279-8920.