I am particularly excited about our cover story. Four young entrepreneurs have opened restaurants in the city in the past year. Three of them are home-grown: George Claussen and Brian Brittingham grew up in Augusta. Jeremy Collins grew up across the river in North Augusta. They left home to make their way in the world but have returned to share their expertise with the community by opening exciting new restaurants—DeNovo and Southbound Smokehouse. The third young man, Mike Agostino, grew up in Clemson, a town not too far from Augusta. He and his partners have operated a restaurant named Sole in Clemson for several years. When they decided it was time to open the second Sole, they did their research and determined Augusta to be the perfect place. Not only did they open Sole in downtown Augusta, but Mike and his wife bought a house here, making a personal commitment to the community as well.
Eating out is one of my favorite things to do and I’m thrilled to have new additions to the city’s already impressive list of dining options. But even if you aren’t an avid restaurant-goer, you should be excited to hear that young business people see potential for success in our city and are making investments here. It is an endorsement of Augusta’s vitality and economic promise.
The good news is these are just three of a number of restaurants that have been opened over the past several years by similarly motivated entrepreneurs. As a result Surrey Center is bustling most evenings with parking at a premium on weekends. In fact Kevin Goldsmith and son Cary have just opened Bodega Ultima there for breakfast and lunch in addition to their successful Takosushi. This, in combination with other more recent Surrey additions (Finch & 5th, Abel Brown, Oliviana’s), plus long-time favorites (Calvert’s and French Market Grille), comprises a neighborhood of eateries popular for catching up with friends for a glass of wine and a meal. And you can count on seeing more than a few familiar faces.
Downtown, where Sole is located, has experienced a similar renaissance. Premier establishments such as Nacho Mama’s and Bee’s Knees have been joined by a myriad of other restaurants, including Sean Wight’s trilogy of Frog Hollow, Craft & Vine and Farmhaus, a growler restaurant, several Asian fusion cafes and numerous others, all of which attract Augusta residents as well as diners from across the region.
So the question of where to go for dinner is being met with many more choices in the new year. And I’ve even heard rumors of a few others in the works. So stay tuned and come hungry.
This article appears in the February-March 2016 issue of Augusta Magazine.