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Author: Ashlee Duren

Welcome to Augusta!

April in Augusta—the most fabulous time of the year for our fair city! For one week the world is our stage and everyone who is anyone is watching. As locals, we are so proud that Augusta was chosen by the founders of the Augusta National Golf Club to host the world’s most prestigious golf tournament. As Southerners, we have spent months preparing for our guests to arrive.  Homeowners and businesses alike have attended to every detail. Fresh coats of paint have been added to a variety of structures, roads have been constructed to allow traffic to pass more easily and landscapes have been created to ensure the flora and fauna put on a spectacular show for all to see.  We understand most folks are here to attend the tournament on those hallowed grounds that lie just beyond the fence off Washington Road, but we hope you will take a stroll outside the gates and explore the Garden City while you’re here.  Augusta has a blossoming arts scene, countless fabulous restaurants, miles of beautiful greenways and trails, and world-class museums. Also, we are home to the U.S. Army Cyber Command, nationally-known medical facilities, great schools and universities as well as one of the country’s largest Ironman competitions. Our economy is strong—with numerous manufacturing companies and a vibrant real estate market.  Admittedly, golf put Augusta on the map, but we are...

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Food for Thought

I have always considered myself a foodie. At least I did before I became a mother. There are few things in this world I enjoy as much as a great meal. Dining was an experience from start to finish.  At present, food is merely necessary for survival in my household. Now my palate consists of peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and chicken nuggets. I often thought my girlfriends were crazy for centering their mealtimes around the limited palate of a toddler. I now get it. As a working mother, it takes far too much effort to prepare a meal for your child and then cook something that is deemed more sophisticated for you and your spouse. After a long day at the office, it’s all I can do to feed my child something that isn’t served through a window. For those of you who can dine out on a regular basis, I encourage you to do so. It’s an exciting time for foodies in our area. The chefs/restaurateurs on our cover represent the culinary expansion in our area. The Augusta area has had some fabulous locally owned restaurants through the years. A few have become institutions, but sadly many were mere blips. The guys featured in our magazine this issue come from very different backgrounds as reflected in their menus. The common thread, however, is their desire to create and...

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Trees and Traditions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! To say that I love the holidays is a bit of an understatement. The hustle and bustle of the season, time spent with friends and family, holiday entertaining, shopping for the perfect gift—all of it! It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and reminisce about traditions of holidays past, while creating new memories with family and friends.  Growing up, my parents always made the holidays magical. As children, we couldn’t wait for Christmas break. It meant no school, of course, but also time spent with each other creating family traditions. Every family has traditions. My most treasured tradition involves the Christmas tree. Every year, immediately following Thanksgiving dinner, we loaded up in our nine-passenger station wagon to embark on my mother’s quest for the “perfect” Christmas tree. While my mother, sister and I loved the annual search, my brother and dad loathed it. For them it meant standing in the cold patiently waiting for us to pick a tree.  Year after year, the ritual remained the same. We would visit at least a half a dozen tree lots, Mom asking Dad to pull out multiple specimens as she walked around to carefully inspect them—only to reject each one.  In the end, we always ended up at the beginning. We would go back to the first lot and my...

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Football Memories

Fall is approaching and soon the kids will be back in school—the lazy days of summer replaced with classroom schedules and daily routines. Despite the lingering heat, the respite of fall promises to make its debut in the not too distant future. But in the South, we’re accustom to the sweltering heat and rely more heavily on the calendar to usher in fall than Mother Nature. Perhaps one of the most anticipated rites of fall in the South is the return of college football.  In just a few short weeks, stadiums across the Deep South will be packed with loyal fans sporting school colors in every imaginable rendition, passionately cheering on their chosen teams.  Growing up, my dad would load the family into our wood-paneled station wagon (complete with the IPTAY sticker) every fall and head north to his alma mater, everyone dressed in Clemson orange. Upon arrival, he was instantly transported back to his college days, serving as our personal tour guide while sharing stories of his Clemson glory days. Like most Southern men, my father awaits fall for one reason—football and his beloved Clemson Tigers. So it came as quite a shock when I, his oldest child, declared my allegiance to the Georgia Bulldogs.  Not unlike my dad, there’s no better place on earth to me than between the hedges in Sanford Stadium on a fall Saturday...

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Poised for Greatness

It’s an exciting time for Augusta! With a host of new businesses coming to the area, an expanding healthcare industry, the improvement of our arts community and the revitalization of several area neighborhoods, our city is flourishing rapidly.   As the new publisher of Augusta Magazine, I am thrilled to see our community thrive.  The future of Augusta and its surrounding area are poised for greatness.  In this issue we introduce you to 10 of our area’s brightest young men and women. A pastor, human resource professional, attorney, educator and a financial analyst are among the distinguished group. These individuals are leaders in our community. Each has a clear vision for the future and is eager to make a positive impact on the city.They are deeply rooted in community service and bring the experience and enthusiasm that will carry us forward. I share their mission.  I grew up in Columbia County and have witnessed tremendous growth through the years. A sea of retail stores now surrounds the neighborhood where I grew up and my middle school has been replaced with a Big Lots and Home Depot. I will be the first to admit that change isn’t always easy or popular, but it is inevitable. As stewards of this city, it is our responsibility to ensure its vitality and sustainability. Augusta Magazine is a hallmark of our great city. For...

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