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New Vista bar, eatery to open in fall (803) 771-8308March 27, 2014 

— A new restaurant and bar is opening this fall in the space behind Urban Outfitters in the Vista.

Hickory Tavern is a small Charlotte-based chain that opened in 1997 and has 15 locations in North Carolina and one in Spartanburg.

“I think it will be a very good addition to the Vista,” said J.P. Scurry, vice president at Colliers International commercial real estate firm in Columbia, who has been working for six years with Scottie Smith to bring new life to the building. Urban Outfitters took most of the building, opening last year facing Gervais Street.

Hickory Tavern will be in the rear of the building and will have a 907 Senate St. address.

The company is in growth mode and is looking to branch out in South Carolina and Alabama, spokesman Thom Perez said.

“The Vista, in particular, was very interesting to us,” Perez said. “It’s just such a vibrant, fun, walkable area. It fits us.”

The restaurant chain is small enough that instead of taking a cookie-cutter approach, it is able to make each establishment fit into the neighborhood where it’s located, Perez said. “We have that kind of chameleon ability to kind of be ourselves, but at the same time fit in and mold to the local area.”

The restaurant features a full bar and menu and puts a focus on sports, Perez said. It serves lunch, dinner and a late-night menu and has happy hour and game day specials for a range of sports.

“We really pride ourselves on our food,” Perez said. “It’s not just wings and beer.”

In addition to typical tavern fare, such as wings, burgers and chicken sandwiches, the pub will also serves dishes such as a “Bucket of Boat Trash” – two clusters of crab legs, 10 oysters and eight shrimp with a side for $29 – and lobster rolls for $14.

One its specialties is a build-your-own salad served in a chilled metal bowl, Perez said. Customers can choose their greens and six toppings for $9.

The restaurant will renovate the 5,000-square-foot space over the coming months and add upper and lower decks to the building. It will employ about 60 people, Perez said.

Improvements to the building will be a welcome addition to the Vista, Scurry said.

“It will look and feel much different,” he said. “And it will keep some of the warehouse industrial feel of the Vista.”

One Wendy’s closes, another remodels

The Wendy’s restaurant along Beltline Boulevard has closed permanently amid slow sales, the franchisee said Thursday.

“The lease was up on the building, and we had to make a decision about whether to continue in that location or not,” said Tad Dolbier, president of Boone, N.C.-based Tar Heel Capital Corp., which now owns nine Wendy’s in the Columbia area and 75 throughout the Carolinas.

The dynamics and traffic patterns of the neighborhood have changed since the restaurant located at 2089 N. Beltline Blvd., next to Richland Mall, opened in the mid-1980s, Dolbier said. The mall, which once was filled with stores and bustling with shoppers, has struggled in the past decade to remain relevant. It is largely empty.

“It was no longer what we would consider an ideal location” for Wendy’s, Dolbier said. “It was time to move on.”

Tar Heel instead is focusing on its more profitable properties, starting with a complete renovation of the Wendy’s at 804 Assembly St., which reopened earlier this month after two months of construction. Tar Heel will continue renovating its existing fast food restaurants over the next three years, Dolbier said.

The unique building along Assembly Street is designed to look like a two-story structure because that’s what city of Columbia design standards require in that area, Dolbier said. But inside, it is still one story and conforms to Wendy’s new image, with a fireplace, TVs, a Wi-Fi bar and lounge-style seating. .

Starbucks adding drive through at Garners Ferry

Starbucks is moving its Garners Ferry Road store a few storefronts down and adding a drive through, company officials confirmed.

Construction is underway on the spot of the former Qdoba restaurant in the Shoppes at Woodhills, and Starbucks could move in as early as next month, bringing the first drive-through location to the area.

The company will bring in six to 10 additional employees to staff the new location, a Starbucks spokesman confirmed in an email.

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