Originally created 04/02/04

Boll Weevil may soon have another location



When George Harrison started in business, the former furniture and clothing retailer always had a passing interest in restaurants.

In 1990, he jumped into food when he opened Boll Weevil in downtown Augusta with a partner.

"When we started we had absolutely no idea what we were doing, and over a period of time we figured it out," he said.

Now, Mr. Harrison is quickly expanding his restaurant holdings, opening a new lunch cafe in Martinez, taking over a popular casual seafood restaurant and eyeing future developments in downtown and Columbia County.

For nearly two years, Mr. Harrison has been sitting on 2.2 acres on Owens Road in Evans with the hopes of building a Boll Weevil West and tapping into the county's growing restaurant scene.

"I thought Columbia County was the most logical choice because of the discretionary income," he said. "It just seemed like we had a lot of customers who were coming in on the weekends from Columbia County."

The holdup for Boll Weevil West's construction has been the possibility of too much restaurant competition near Mr. Harrison's property.

When he bought the land, plans had not yet been announced for a new 395,000-square-foot shopping center at the intersection of Owens and Washington roads.

Anchored by a Target store and including room for several outparcel restaurant spots, the development is expected to open next fall.

The new competition has Mr. Harrison weighing whether to stick with existing restaurant site plans or go with a larger building to compete. The largest he said he could build on the Evans property would hold between 150 and 200 seats, compared with the 100-seat Boll Weevil now on Ninth Street.

Meanwhile, sales are strong at Mr. Harrison's sandwich wrap restaurant Skyline Cafe, which opened in November in Martinez.

Last year, he also took over ownership of Beamie's at the River on Reynolds Street.

And Mr. Harrison said he is looking to develop another building he owns downtown between Beamie's and Boll Weevil - though not a restaurant.

"We have a building down here, and we're looking to see what the best use would be, but we're trying to do something that would peak out at different times so we don't eat up all the parking," he said. "Our approach to this business is to get them up and running, and as long as they will make a little bit of money, we'll move onto the next one."

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.