Started at a roadside, Columbia's Peanut Man to open big new digs

The owners of The Peanut Man are putting the finishing touches on their newest location on Fernandina Road near Piney Grove Road.

This will be the fourth location, and the largest, for Chris and Carrie Hinely, who began their business in 2008 by selling boiled peanuts along the side of the road for extra money. The first brick-and-mortar location was in 2010 at Village at Sandhill.

"Peanuts are beans, coffee is beans and there are cacao beans (for making chocolate)," says Chris Hinely of this first attempt at a full cafe.

The 10,000-square-foot store will feature a bakery, coffee shop and a chocolate factory, in addition to boiled peanuts, popcorn and confectioneries. There will be a small breakfast and lunch menu; two rooms that can be used as classrooms or rented for parties or business meetings; and the chocolate room where customers can watch the candies being made and sample some of The Peanut Man's creations.

Eventually, the Hinelys will complete a covered outdoor-seating area on the back patio where people can relax and hang out.

Carrie Hinely wants to "tell the story of chocolate" through chocolate and confectionery classes. Her heart, she says, is in the desserts.

She lived in Italy for 13 years and enjoyed the freshness of Italian fruited desserts, so she will be importing dessert items from Italy that use natural ingredients.

The couple are also adamant about giving back to the community. At the 3905 Fernandina Road location, they are instituting a "chip service" for charities. Customers purchasing coffees will be given a colored chip that they can use to support one of three local charities. The number of chips collected each month will correlate into a percentage of proceeds donated to that organization.

The charities will change each month.

Chris Hinely believes that today, "the trend in retail is that people are moving away from the malls. They're not shopping like they used to, you can buy online on Amazon. I think that to get people out, you gotta give them something special. We want a little theater involved in it ... watch it, see it, smell it, taste it as it's being made ... and a place for people to gather. Something a little unique and different."

The Hinelys are planning to open The Peanut Man on Fernandina by mid-July. Other Peanut Man locations include 1215 Lincoln St. in The Vista, 461-3 Town Centre Place in Village at Sandhill, and 1333 Dutch Fork Road in Ballentine.