Buzz on Biz April 2019 Issue

Page 1

Annual tour puts spotlight on Augusta’s potential. Pages 8-9



ALTHOUGH SMALL, AUGUSTA’S AIRPORT CONTINUES TO GROW AND IMPROVE By Gary Kauffman In the first full week of April, the relaxed pace of Augusta Regional Airport will transform into something closer to the manic activity of a big-city airport as the annual Masters Tournament brings tens of thousands of people to town. But the normal easygoing atmosphere of the airport belies a facility that has been constantly improving over the past few years and has more improvements planned for the future. “One of the most important things is that we focus on customer experience,” said Herbert Judon, executive director for the airport. To that end, the airport has installed new passenger bridges, charging stations for phones and other electronics, and terrazzo flooring through most of the airport, and it has instituted Passenger Liaison Assistants (PAL) to help with bags and directions. Currently, a VIP room is under construction for frequent flyers. In addition to the changes inside the terminal, Judon said there have been many improvements to the airfield. One of the biggest changes occurred at the beginning of March, when American Airlines added a direct fight to and from Dallas-Fort Worth, American’s biggest hub. From there, flyers have access to more than 200 destinations. “It’s one-stop for many international destinations,” Judon said. Early indications show that it will be a popular flight. During the first week, flights were at about 90 percent capacity. But Judon still has his eyes set on a bigger prize — a direct flight to Washington, D.C. With the move of the Army

The picturesque terminal lounge at Augusta Regional Airport usually has a relaxed atmosphere, although that all changes during Masters Week. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Cyber Command to Fort Gordon and the resulting increased presence of cyber contractors, the need to travel to and from the nation’s capital has increased. Augusta has had those direct flights in the past but currently does not. “The priority is Washington, D.C.,” he said. “That’s clearly our No. 1 market.” Last year, AGS (Augusta’s official designation) set a record with 613,000 passengers. “We continue to see year-to-year growth, which bodes well for us,” Judon said. The airport handles about 1,000 pas-

sengers per day, although the spacing between flights seldom makes it feel crowded. That all changes during Masters Week, of course, when the airport performs a little more than 3,000 operations; that represents a month or more of normal operations. AGS also sees bigger commercial aircraft during the week, and airlines schedule direct flights from places including Miami, New York and Chicago. There are also many private aircraft landing and staying for the week.


“We utilize almost every piece of paved space for aircraft parking,” Judon said. “It’s more intense, more congested and replicates a larger airport.” The current terminal, built in 2008, gives homage to its Southern heritage with the feel of an antebellum mansion, as well as its golf heritage, currently displaying a statue of 1976 Masters champion Raymond Floyd. Augusta’s musical heritage is also honored with a display of some of the resplendent suits AugustaSee AIRPORT on Page 2


2834 Washington Rd, Augusta 5121 Washington Rd, Evans

(706)-737-0477 (706)-250-3618

AGS HAS SERVED AUGUSTA NEARLY 70 YEARS Augusta Regional Airport got its start as a flight school in 1941, helping with the military buildup prior to World War II. That year, two training planes collided, killing three people. One of those killed was flight trainer Donald Bush, and the airfield was named Bush Field in his honor. The school was closed in 1944; since the Army no longer needed it, the federal government transferred ownership to the city of Augusta. In 1950, it opened as a commercial airfield. There was a brief moment of controversy when the city decided to change the name to Curry Field in honor of a local politician. After citizens protested, the

name Bush Field was reinstated a month later. Bush Field soon attracted the attention of Eastern and Delta airlines, and air traffic at the field began to grow. The airport became an important destination in the Southeast, and by the mid-1960s was the 135th-busiest airport in the nation. Daily jet service began in 1965. The airport officially became Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field in 2000. Traffic at the airport continues to grow. In 2018, a record 613,000 commercial passengers flowed through the airport, representing a 20 percent increase in less than a decade. – Gary Kauffman

W E A LT H M A N A G E M E N T P L A N S F O R g e n e r at i o n s

Augusta-area native James Brown is honored at the airport, with several displays that include some of the resplendent suits he wore on stage. Photo by Gary Kauffman


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area native James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, wore on stage. The airport also regularly gives local artists and musicians a venue to display their talents. Local artists and photographers are invited to display their work in the hallway leading to the waiting area. Twice a year, during Masters Week and during the Thanksgiving-Christmas period, local musicians serenade the people passing through the airport. But AGS isn’t all about boarding and deplaning airline passengers. The airport recently created an aerospace incubator, a shared business space where upstart companies can innovate and grow, and maybe eventually become airport tenants. “It’s exciting because there’s so much going on with drones and other systems

2 Buzz on Biz April 2019

that are cutting-edge,” Judon said. “We’re hoping to recruit more aerospace business here, and hopefully this will help in recruitment.” Judon hopes to see more diversity in the airport’s operations and to create more diverse revenue streams. Part of that plan is expanding the commercial business side of the airport. That could include roles for military, food and beverage concessionaires, cargo and storage enterprises, or other types of businesses that could gain an advantage by being near the airport. “There’s a reciprocal relationship between the airport and the business community,” Judon said. That’s a relationship he believes will continue to grow at AGS. “At the end of the day, we’re here to provide connections to our constituents, both business and leisure,” he said. “We give as much service as we can.”

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Don’t let personal stress spill over into your business success By Gary Kauffman Life can be uneven at times. Everything can be going great in your business, but then your personal life takes an unexpected turn that threatens to consume your thoughts and time. Dealing with the stress in your personal life without upsetting the good direction of your business can be tricky. I currently find myself in that position as I deal with my 87-year-old mother’s descent into dementia. For various reasons, it seems that the best course of action is to bring her from her longtime home in Indiana to Georgia. That has meant extra time spent checking out local memory-care facilities, dealing with doctors back in Indiana and making plans to sell the property, all things I’ve had to be involved in. It creates a lot of stress. I realize that other businesspeople around my age are also dealing with the issue of aging parents. But personal stress can come in a variety of ways — illness of a spouse or child, marital strife, personal financial setbacks or any of a dozen other issues. Adding to the stress is that often, like in my situation, we end up being the person trying to find a solution to a problem

Are you feeling overwhelmed by something going on in your personal life? There are ways to get through it without letting it damage your business.

that we had no part in creating. So, how can you deal with personal stresses without carrying that over into your business? Here are a few thoughts. Spiritual guidance. As a Christian, the first thing I do is pray, knowing that I need a higher power than my own to get through the situation. A pastor or other spiritual leader can also help give you a broader, long-term perspective on the issue. Education. Sometimes simply re-

searching the available information and options in dealing with the situation can bring some peace of mind. One of our greatest fears is of the unknown, so extra knowledge can often ease that fear. Take time. You might as well admit that you’re going to have some worrisome thoughts cross your mind. Instead of trying to push them to the side, take five or 10 minutes to let them run wild, assess them and then deal with them — then, move on. Talk about it. Make time to sit down to talk things over with your spouse (assuming he or she isn’t the issue), a friend or other confidant who will be a good sounding board. Often, when you start talking out loud about the problem, you’ll see how ridiculous your worries sound, or you’ll suddenly have a revelation about a possible solution that simply didn’t present itself while things were just ruminating in your mind. Find distractions. I’m not talking about avoiding dealing with the issue. But during those times when you just can’t seem to quit thinking about it, pick up a book to read, do a crossword, watch a movie or exercise. The distraction will give your tired brain a much-needed rest. Get professional help. Life coaches

Features A man-cave spa............................................4 The Refinery redefines the haircut experience for men

Striving for a vibrant downtown............. 16 Main Street South Carolina and local groups share big dreams for North Augusta.

Buzz Bits................................................... 6-7

Businessperson of the Month.................. 22 Travis McNeal leads Golden Harvest Food Bank with passion for people.

More than the Masters............................ 8-9 Red Carpet Tour highlights Augusta’s people, fun and business potential Openings, Closings............................. 12, 13 Upcoming Events................................ 14, 15

Second location........................................ 28 Southbound Smokehouse opens at SRP Park. Building on first-year success.................. 29 GreenJackets fans enjoy the experience of games at new SRP Park.

Columnists Mark Alison: Have the courage to face the truth..........................26 Samantha Barksdale: Netflix explores the world of winners and losers...................................................................................................30 Ben Casella: Local brewery impresses with Cautionary Tale....30 Tony Creighton: Softwashing and its role in increased home value............................................................................................................20 Ed Enoch: Nothing stays fixed in mechanics or in business....24 Christine Hall: If time is running out, tax extension is an option..........................................................................................................23

Russell Head: Health care price transparency: Will behavior change?......................................................................................................24 Gary Kauffman: It pays to be nice to everyone – sometimes in a big way...............................................................................................27 Susan O’Keefe: Bogey’s Grille is up to par for quality food.......31 Dagan Sharpe: Words have the power to build up – or tear down...........................................................................................................20 Tammy Shepherd: Chamber efforts help county schools, parks, roads...............................................................................................10

and counselors are trained to help you think through situations and come up with potential solutions. Like with talking with a friend, often just the act of talking it out can ease stress and bring up potential solutions. Delegate. If you’re a business owner, personal stress can add to the regular strains of business. This is a good time to delegate some tasks to the people working for you. Sometimes a helping hand with little tasks, like answering business emails or ordering supplies, eases tensions. Just make sure it’s someone you trust so you don’t add worrying about those tasks to your already full plate of stress. It won’t be easy, and not any one of these things will solve all of your problem — in fact, it often takes a combination of several of these. But with a little forethought, it’s possible to deal with stressful personal situations without upsetting your business. In addition to serving as editor of Buzz on Biz, Gary Kauffman is a Christian life coach working from an office in Martinez. Contact him at 803.341.5830 or kauffman or visit

The Buzz on Biz mission is to act as an inspirational tool for those in the workplace and those who are entrepreneurs, and to provide useful, practical information to increase their companies’ bottom lines. To order a 12-month subscription mailed to your home or office, please mail a check for $49 (includes sales tax) to cover postage to the address below. Publisher Ashlee Duren, Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman Assistant Editor & Layout Amanda Holahan Multimedia Journalist Witt Wells, Photography Witt Wells, Gary Kauffman Sales Manager Lisa Dorn, Sales and PR Leslie Whitney,, 706-823-3719 Ad Building Michael Rushbrook Distribution Ken Brown Opinions expressed by the writers are their own and their respective institutions. Neither Morris Media Network nor its agents or employees take any responsibility for the accuracy of submitted information, which is presented for informational purposes only. For the latest news, visit us at Like us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter @BuzzonBiz 643 Broad Street, Augusta GA 30901

April 2019 Buzz on Biz



THE REFINERY REDEFINES THE HAIRCUT EXPERIENCE FOR MEN By Gary Kauffman If you’re a man of a certain age, you probably grew up getting haircuts at a place similar to Floyd’s Barbershop on the Andy Griffith Show. Usually there were two chairs, one staffed by a loquacious barber who talked twice as much as he cut, and the other by a taciturn ex-Marine who had never heard of the concept of gentleness. They always asked how you wanted your hair cut, but when they finished you pretty much looked like the fellow before you and the fellow after you. Men’s hairstyles have come a long way in recent years, but no one has done more in Augusta to turn a haircut into an experience than Shelly Craft of The Refinery (formerly Men’s Refinery). Craft’s facility, aptly called a barberspa, runs the gamut from a simple haircut to massages, alcohol, golf and parties — and recently began offering dinner and music shows. “Going to the old barbershop gave men a sense of community,” Craft said. “From the very beginning, I wanted to build an experience for men where they could get spa services and still feel like men. But I also wanted to build that sense of community.” The Refinery, at the corner of Reynolds and 10th streets in Augusta, has a distinctly masculine feel, with cement floors, brick walls, exposed rafters and earth tones. Sporting events play on most of the televisions. A bar serves beer and wine. And there’s not a flower to be seen. Dealing with the hair needs of men started early with Craft. “My first victims, when I was probably 14-15 years old, were my brother and my boyfriend,” she said. “I rolled my first perm in my boyfriend’s mullet, which tells you how old I am.” She started in the traditional role for women, attending cosmetology classes in high school and going to work for Special Effects in North Augusta at age 19. Ten years later, she took over ownership of Special Effects, but she had broader ideas than a

4 Buzz on Biz April 2019

Owner Shelly Craft sits at the bar inside The Refinery barberspa. In addition to haircuts, The Refinery offers a wide range of spa experiences geared toward men. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Making changes means facing fear — and overcoming it When it comes to making changes to a successful business, Shelly Craft says fear can be expected. The secret is to continue in the face of it. “There’s always fear — that’s what people don’t understand, that no matter how successful they perceive a person to be, they’re never absent of fear,” she said. “It’s just that you can never get held hostage by it.” Craft has some advice for business owners who are ready to step out of their comfort zones. “For the existing business owner to step out of their comfort zone, first you need to look at what you’re passionate about and what you enjoy doing,” she said. “If it doesn’t excite you, you’re probably in the wrong business.” For Craft, her passion is in connecting with people and seeing them have a good typical beauty salon. “When I started with Special Effects I adopted someone else’s baby,” she said. “I had a vision of doing a business more as a spa experience.” That led to opening The Men’s Refinery, first in North Augusta, then moving to the current location in downtown Augusta four years ago. The idea of catering to

time. For other businesses, she said, that could mean being passionate about a new product or process. She advised being careful who you listen to. Don’t listen to the naysayers, but be willing to take counsel from trusted advisors. “And when things get really tough, you’ve got to go back to that initial passion and vision,” she said. “I often go back and ask, what is my original plan?” Commitment is another important word for stepping out of a comfort zone. “You’ve got to commit to it,” Craft said. “When you’re the boss, the owner, you’re the one in charge. You’ve got to be 100 percent committed to doing the hard stuff.” The bottom line, she added, is that a business has to keep moving. “There’s no such thing as maintaining,” Craft said. “You’re either moving forward or you’re failing. You can’t be afraid to change.”

men in a spa environment was a new concept for the area. “It was ahead of its time for North Augusta,” Craft said. “But I started noticing that men needed these services. The day of men being groomed was starting to come back.” At the same time, traditional barbershops began phasing out as barbers retired and men turned

to women’s salons for a more styled cut. That exposed men to more of the spa experience. “Men started being OK with using product in their hair and paying more attention to their skin,” Craft said. But there was still something lacking. “Men really wanted an experience like women had, but they were typically too shy to

admit it,” she said. “And they didn’t have a place to go. They’re not going to sit and get a manicure or pedicure with women staring at them.” Craft added manicures, pedicures and massages to her list of services. Men could get those treatments in a man-friendly environment. A bar was added, along with a golf simulator, creating a spa experience inside a virtual man cave. The venture quickly proved to be a success. But Craft didn’t rest on that success. Instead, she has continued to evolve her business. “I’m always thinking what I can do to make the experience better,” she said. “Humans are about relationships. You may have 500 or 1,000 friends on Facebook, but do they really know you? I want to create a place where people feel important and they feel known, where they can let their guard down.” To that end, The Refinery is a popular wedding day spot for grooms’ parties. The men can get their final grooming, play golf and darts, and perhaps get a massage in a relaxed atmosphere. Craft has a meal catered for them. Sometimes they even bring their tuxes and get dressed there. The facility has also been used for rehearsal dinners, Christmas parties and business events. The most recent addition has been The Refinery After Hours dinner and music show. Once or twice a month, Craft transforms the waiting lounge into a venue for an intimate music experience headlined by up-and-coming artists out of Nashville, Tenn. Local artists often provide the opening act. Craft books national and touring artists. “I make sure they have a good following, and I look for people writing their own music,” she said. “My hope for the local community is that this gives them inspiration and connections.” The next show is set for April 27 and features Leigh Nash, lead singer for Sixpence None the Richer. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and the show at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at mensrefineryspa. com.

buzz bits Chamber’s Golf Classic is set for May 13 The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce will hit the links on May 13 for its 19th Annual Golf Classic, this year held at Gordon Lakes Golf Course. The time on the course, both before and after, allows plenty of time for networking. Registration and practice range open at 10:30 a.m. Lunch provided by Chick-fil-A will be served prior to the 11:30 a.m. shotgun start. A dinner and awards program begin at 5:30 p.m. This year’s Annual Golf Classic includes prizes for longest drive, closest to the pin and player raffle. The hole-in-one contest grand prize features a premier golf vacation package, sponsored by Matthew Motors and PruittHealth Hospice–Augusta. There will also be a putting contest, sponsored by Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton–Augusta and a silent auction prize-bid item courtesy of Textron Specialized Vehicles. Registration is required by April 5. For more information, visit

Pedestrian bridge opens downtown Pedestrians trying to get from the Convention Center at the Augusta Marriott to the parking garage will no longer have to cross Reynolds Street after an overhead pedestrian bridge opened March 20. The $1.2 million pedestrian bridge con-

nects the parking deck with the Marriott and makes it easier to reach restaurants and the Jessye Norman Amphitheater on the north side of Reynolds Street.

Development authority honors 3 manufacturers Three Augusta manufacturing facilities were honored at the Augusta Economic Development Authority’s annual Celebration of Industries event on March 1. FPL Food LLC, the nation’s 12th-largest beef processor, which is on Augusta’s south side, won the Large Manufacturer of the Year award. The Fortune 500 company is dedicated to employee safety and animal welfare. It has more than 500 employees. Winning the Medium Manufacturer of the Year award (100-500 employees) was Starbucks Regional Plant in Augusta Corporate Park, which is located south of the airport. Starbucks, which opened the plant in 2014, is expanding to add roasting machines to supply Starbucks stores and grocery stores with both ground and wholebean coffee. A fourth-generation family-owned business, Macuch Steel Products, was named the Small Manufacturer of the Year (fewer than 100 employees). The 70-year-old company, which is just south of the medical district, fabricates structural steel and manufactures steel stairs and rails. The company hires skills-challenged workers through Goodwill Industries and Hale House.

A pedestrian bridge linking the Convention Center at the Augusta Marriott and the parking garage on Reynolds Street has opened. Photo by Gary Kauffman

6 Buzz on Biz April 2019

Rosemary Inn is one of only 21 properties in South Carolina to earn a four-diamond rating from AAA. Photo by Witt Wells

Rosemary Inn earns award for 7th time

For the seventh consecutive year, North Augusta’s Rosemary Inn Bed and Breakfast has been given a Four Diamond Award from AAA, a rare accomplishment only achieved by the premiere hospitality venues in the region. Co-owner Diane Combs said that of the 21 properties in South Carolina that received Four Diamond status, only three were in places other than Hilton Head, Charleston and Myrtle Beach. “An anonymous person comes and gets the total experience,” Combs said. “They check our cleanliness, meal and hospitality. Then we have another inspector that shows up unannounced. We have no idea who they are or when they come.” AAA inspectors assess more than 27,000 eligible properties throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean based on cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. Each hotel is awarded a diamond rating, between one and five. Six bedrooms at The Rosemary can be booked by the public: Jackson Suite, Alexander Suite, Carolina Suite, Ate-

lier Suite, Magnolia Room and Gentleman’s Quarters. “I just think people feel like they get a getaway, and they go back in time,” Combs said. “It’s an antebellum house. When we have all the original gas filters, original tile, original marble … the house is in pristine condition. They enjoy that it feels like a home and not a hotel. “The ambiance of the place is what attracts people and keeps people coming back.” Combs said she and her husband, Kelly, were told by the inspector that they would have been given a five-star rating if the property had a swimming pool or restaurant. Nightly rates at The Rosemary start at $179 during the week and $199 on the weekends, and they top out at $259. Only 121 properties inspected, or 0.4 percent, achieved Five Diamond status. Combs said she and Kelly are usually the only momand-pop operation present in Charleston for statewide awards for hospitality. “We’re in a completely different ballpark, but we have probably the most unique property,” Combs said.

Chiropractic office earns Small Business of Year award Brantley Chiropractic received the 2018 Small Business of the Year award at the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s 68th annual Meeting and Banquet on March 1. The meeting, themed Mission Possible, was attended by a sold-out crowd of 320 at Crowne Plaza North Augusta. Brantley Chiropractic PC has provided precise chiropractic care for more than 25 years, providing quality care for its patients through the latest research and techniques. Dr. Julie Blankenship and her staff also volunteer with and donate to several organizations and programs in the community. “I feel blessed to have touched so many lives in the community through personal and professional interactions,” Blankenship said. Greg Dietz was named 2018 Ambassador of the Year. The Ambassador of the Year award honors a Chamber Ambassador who has volunteered many hours of time, talent and energy to the success and growth of the North Augusta Chamber. Dietz consistently supports the Chamber at various events each month. He is the corporate partnerships manager for the Augusta GreenJackets.

N. Augusta development wins state nod Riverside Village in North Augusta has caught the eyes of people throughout South Carolina. North Augusta was recently named the winner of the 2019 Joseph P. Riley

Award for Economic Development for the work at Riverside Village. The award is through the Municipal Association of South Carolina and recognizes innovation and achievement in economic development by a local government. Riverside Village is home to SRP Park, the city-owned stadium housing the Augusta GreenJackets, a Crowne Plaza hotel, two apartment communities and Southbound Smokehouse. The city will be recognized at the Municipal Association’s meeting in July.

Columbia County voters pass E-SPLOST The 1 percent E-SPLOST sales tax passed easily in Columbia County in a special election held March 19. The special purpose local option sales tax, which funds education needs in the county, passed with an 83.7 percent approval rating. Voting was light compared to regular elections, at 6.27 percent, but was higher than the last special election four years ago. The Harlem and Martinez areas showed the most support for the tax. Voting precincts at the Harlem Branch Library and Genesis Church and Stevens Creek Church in Martinez all showed 90 percent or more with yes votes. The E-SPLOST funds construction of new school buildings, the purchase of school equipment and school buses. It has allowed the debt-free construction of 16 Columbia County schools in the past 19 years. Columbia County has the 15th-largest student population in the state.

SRR contract is extended Starting April 1, Savannah River Site’s liquid waste team will have an 18-month government contract. Savannah River Remediation had been operating on a 10-month contract that was set to expire March 31. The Department of Energy announced that it plans to extend the contract until Sept. 30, 2020. SRR has been handling the site’s liq-

Photo by Gary Kauffman

buzz bits

Prospect of lower river draws concerns

The Savannah River flowing through Augusta could be facing a drop in its depth, which has community leaders unhappy. In order to protect spawning grounds for endangered fish, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed replacing the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam on the river next to the airport with a weir dam. That would permanently reduce the level of the Savannah River flowing between Augusta and North Augusta. Community leaders in both Augusta and North Augusta are concerned about the proposal because of the economic impact the lowered water level could have. The proposed change could drop level

by as much as 2 feet, which could have a significant impact on recreational boating activities. In mid-February, the corps lowered the water level to what it anticipates the level would be, showing the significant difference from the current level. The initial report from the Army Corps of Engineers states that it would be too expensive to rehabilitate and then maintain the current lock and dam. Although the first report recommended tearing down the lock and dam, since the negative reactions from the February simulation, the engineers are looking at an alternative, although that is likely be more costly.

uid waste, involving millions of gallons of nuclear waste, for about 10 years. It is also responsible for underground storage tanks.

Aiken Golf Club gets high marks The best-kept secret in South Carolina golf might not be secret much longer. The South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel recently named The Aiken Golf Club “South Carolina’s BestKept Secret,” choosing the 107-yearold Aiken course from more than 360 courses in the state. It is also listed among the “The Best

Courses You Can Play,” a compilation of some of South Carolina’s best courses that are open to the public. That puts it on even footing with well-known courses such as the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and Harbour Town Golf Links. The Aiken Golf Club is one of the oldest public courses in South Carolina.

Catch the Buzz! Get more on events and follow business and economic news across the CSRA at April 2019 Buzz on Biz


Red Carpet Tour Augusta attendees get a warm welcome as they arrive. The tour is a chance for local business leaders and officials to show executives, consultants and developers all that the area has to offer, including the Masters Tournament. The Augusta event is part of the statewide Red Carpet Tour that has been held since the late 1950s. Photo contributed


RED CARPET TOUR HIGHLIGHTS PEOPLE, FUN AND BUSINESS POTENTIAL By Witt Wells The week of April 11, visitors will pour into Augusta to watch one of the most famous sporting events on Earth. They’ll watch the most talented golfers alive play on the highest level. They’ll head downtown to eat and drink at Frog Hollow and The Bee’s Knees and Nacho Mama’s. They’ll stay at the brand-new Hyatt House downtown and the Crowne Plaza North Augusta and in residences across the city. They’ll make their way to Evans to watch Darius Rucker and Josh Kelley take the stage at Rock Fore! Dough. When they aren’t exploring Augusta National Golf Club and roaring as a crowd at highlight-reel shots, they’ll eat, drink and play their way through the most action-packed week in Augusta all year. But then most of them will go back to their home cities, and they won’t come

8 Buzz on Biz April 2019

back until the next Masters Tournament. Many of them might never step foot in the Garden City again. That’s what separates the Red Carpet Tour Augusta from the rest of Masters Week. While most of Augusta puts on a show for tourists and locals to give them the best possible few days, the Red Carpet Tour has a bigger vision. Red Carpet Tour Augusta attracts some of the world’s most successful executives, consultants and developers to Augusta for Masters Week, not just to watch the tournament, but to showcase the Augusta area and all that it has to offer companies that are considering locating here. “They’re sometimes very surprised at the extent of the community and the size of the community,” said Sue Parr, president and CEO of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Most people don’t realize that Augusta is Georgia’s second-largest city.” From Sunday to Sunday, tour hosts will

give five different groups of businesspeople, consultants and developers an extensive look at Augusta: the potential sites, the Southern hospitality, the widespread development, the people and, of course, one of the world’s most legendary sporting experiences. “These are companies that have already shown interest in Augusta, and we’re going to try to further their interest,” said Cal Wray, president of the Augusta Economic Development Authority. “A couple of my invites of last year and this year are in active site location process. There’s an enjoyment factor of it where it’s a more relaxed environment, and we can have an enjoyable conversation. They can relax and actually see the community from a different perspective.” The event isn’t exactly based on selling locations. At its essence, the Red Carpet Tour Augusta is selling a cultural and lifestyle experience in the heart of the South, with a prestigious sporting events

as its centerpiece. “It’s never been intended to be a hard sell of Georgia,” Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said of the Red Carpet Tour. “It’s meant to build friendships and relationships over the long term.” Although Red Carpet Tour Augusta is its own event, it’s also part of a statewide Red Carpet Tour run by the Georgia Chamber, which has been showcasing the state as a business destination since 1960 and has used the event to help bring tens of billions of dollars in investments to the state. In the late 1950s, economic developers in Georgia began looking for ways to draw investment from Northern states. An annual six-day economic development tour across the state would end in Augusta. At the time, the Masters Tournament was nearing its 30-year anniversary, but it hadn’t gained the fame that would characterize the tournament

over next two decades as stars including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player began dominating the tournament. The Augusta business community, Augusta National and developers throughout the state decided that the Masters would make the perfect main event for a tour of Georgia. “Now, here we are 59 years later basing the program around Augusta, around the Masters,” Clark said. “When we talk to the guests — some that were with us 10 to 20 years ago — two things always come up. First, walking up that fairway at No. 1. [Second] is the people. They talk about meeting people in Augusta, hearing the history of people who grew up around Augusta, having a bloody mary with someone, having a pimento cheese sandwich with someone at the course. That’s how we connect with people on a personal level.” Clark said other states have tried to replicate Georgia’s model built on the Masters. The problem is a lack of an anchor event of such a high caliber. Even so, the tournament is just one element of the experience that the tour provides. “We always make a point to take them through those beautiful neighborhoods,” Clark said. “That tells a great, great story. We might take them kayaking. We might take them deep sea fishing. There’s so many activities to build a great quality of life in Georgia, and people don’t really see those until they’ve been on the ground here for a few days.” On a local level, Wray said around 30 unique groups will be in attendance at the Red Carpet Tour Augusta this year, including representatives from Georgia Power, Georgia Economic Development, Georgia Electric Membership Corps and others. “It’s 100 percent relationship-building,” said Robbie Bennett, executive director of the Columbia County Development Authority. “It starts from the time our guests come in, to going to the course, to following up with them afterward and hearing their story. Watching them see the golf course for the first time — to see them at the Masters for the first time — is awe-

Then-Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross (second from right) talks to guests during the Red Carpet Tour. Tour guests have helped create $3.2 billion in investment and 15,000 jobs in Georgia since the tour began in 1959, according to a report in The Augusta Chronicle. Photo contributed

inspiring. And they remember it.” Those memories turn into long-term relationships, which can turn into investments, even if the payoff is 10 years down the road. “It is an invaluable tool that we are blessed to have, building lasting relationships with companies and prospects,” Bennett said. When attendees aren’t soaking up the Masters Tournament and local culture, they’re touring the city to see what Augusta offers when it comes to development, business and industrial opportunities, from Fort Gordon to the Augusta Corporate Park to Augusta Regional Airport. Wray said the sheer amount of acreage in the Augusta area that is ready for development is a rarity. Many communities around the United States don’t have that advantage. “Whether it’s five acres or 500 acres, we have all that to offer here,” Wray said. “A lot of places don’t have the acreage to make that feasible.” Tour guests have helped create $3.2 billion in investment and 15,000 jobs in Georgia since its inception in 1959, ac-

cording to the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. According to a 2018 report in The Augusta Chronicle, local investments after past tours include carbon concrete additive manufacturer EdenCrete’s $70 million manufacturing plant and service provider Sitel’s customer service center. “I can’t say enough about Sue Parr and the team at the Augusta Chamber,” Clark said. “They give so selflessly and go above and beyond. We’re blessed to have them there doing that work.” While local hosts are busy guiding five groups of Red Carpet Tour attendees throughout the city over the course of Masters Week, the Georgia Chamber will be doing the same thing on a statewide scale. Guests are paired with an industry leader in Georgia, giving them a source of personal insight into what it’s like to do business in the state. The tour includes two nights in Augusta during the tournament, one night in Atlanta and two nights in a location that the chamber doesn’t disclose until the tour. The 60th anniversary of the Red Carpet Tour comes at a time when Georgia

finds itself at the top of various lists of the best states to do business. Site Selection magazine has named it the best state to do business several years over the last decade, highlighting Georgia’s robust economic development initiatives and pro-business environment. Area Development, another site selection and planning publication, named Georgia the top state to do business in 2018, giving the state a five-year run in the top spot of Area Development’s rankings. The publication based its rankings on 11 categories that relate to location and facility planning, including overall cost of doing business, corporate tax environment, business incentive programs and access to capital and project funding. When the 83rd Masters kicks off, the Red Carpet Tours, both the statewide tour and the Augusta tour, will aim to introduce those advantages to potential investors via a unique, personal experience in the Peach State. “We do Southern hospitality better than anyone else in the world, and the Masters and the Red Carpet Tour give us a platform to show that hospitality,” Clark said.

“We do Southern hospitality better than anyone else in the world, and the Masters and the Red Carpet Tour give us a platform to show that hospitality.” – Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce

April 2019 Buzz on Biz



Chamber efforts help county schools, parks and roads By Tammy Shepherd April is the month for the greater Augusta region to shine! Our area is poised to wine and dine you, not only during the first full week of April, but every day of the year. We truly believe in Southern hospitality! The annual golf tournament has such an impact on our local economy, but so does every sporting event, weekend tournament, convention or trade show that chooses our area to be its host. We welcome you with open arms. In March, the Columbia County Chamber was responsible for bringing more than 70 colleges and universities to the inaugural Career and College Expo. We were excited to have college representatives from Tennessee, Alabama, Morehouse, The Citadel and many more from the southeastern United States. The event yielded more than 2,000 local and out-oftown attendees. Also in March, the Columbia County Chamber hosted the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Staff Conference. Nothing like having about 150 Chamber executives from throughout the state here in town! The conference was held at the Columbia County Exhibition Center, and the night out on the town was held at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion Dance Pavilion. What a blast we had! Columbia County, just west of Augusta/Richmond County, used to be considered the bedroom community to Augusta. Now ranked the 28th-fastest growing county in the entire nation, Columbia County has exploded in population, from 87,000 in 2000 to an estimated 155,794 in 2019. When you do the math, it adds up to an increase of more than 68,000 people in only 19 years. In a young community, where the median age is just 38, you can witness firsthand the growth by the number of rooftops, and business is booming! Consisting of the communities of Evans, Martinez, Appling and Phinizy, Columbia County also includes the cities of Grovetown and Harlem. The largest government bodies are the Columbia County Board of Commissioners and the Columbia County Board of Education. Primed for business growth, Columbia County’s household median income is $73,211, and even more impressive is the Evans area’s approximately $97,000 median income. The county’s largest employer is the highly rated Columbia County school system. With almost

10 Buzz on Biz April 2019

The No. 1 economic driver and the reason why people moved to Columbia County is the school system. The county has built 16 schools in the last 19 years debt free with the help of the education special purpose local option sales tax.

28,000 students, the county ranks as the 15th-largest school district in the state. The overall population of the county boasts 37 percent of residents with bachelor’s degrees or higher, while 32 percent have some college experience. That kind of knowledge provides talent to such major employers as John Deere Commercial products, Club Car, GIW Industries, Nutritional Resources and the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. Who are considered visitors, and why do we like them so much? Visitors are defined as anyone who travels more than 50 miles to come to Columbia County. Did you know that each county household saves $210 per year thanks to taxes generated by tourism? Tourism also generates 1,200 jobs in Columbia County and has generated 21,000-plus visitors to the Savannah Rapids Visitors Information Center per year. Not only do tourists contribute to the great quality of life in Columbia County, but so do residents of surrounding counties, when they buy something here. While Columbia County continues to grow retail stores and has three super Walmart stores, anyone who spends money contributed to our capital improvements of our SPLOST. So, you may ask, what is a SPLOST? It is a special purpose local option sales tax. For Columbia County, SPLOST provides wonderful capital improvements that provide a great quality of life for residents. Let me break it down for you. First, the No. 1 economic driver and the reason why people moved to our county is the school system. Columbia County has built 16 schools in the last 19 years debt free. The Education SPLOST (or ESPLOST), which has to be renewed by

voters every five years, is a one-cent sales tax that pays for capital improvements to include new schools, additions and renovations to existing schools, technology and new buses. Did you know that 20 buses cost $1.8 million annually? The Columbia County School System has 235 buses on the road each day! What would happen if we did not have ESPLOST? The burden would fall on resident property owners and business owners. The county SPLOST has undoubtedly contributed to our great quality of life. Did you realize that Columbia County has built Patriots Park, Savannah Rapids Pavilion, Riverside Park, Columbia County Exhibition Center and the new Cultural Arts Center and much, much more since it began? Even if you don’t use them or attend something at these fabulous facilities, you probably drive on the roads or drink the water from the improved infrastructure. Our last SPLOST is for major transportation. The General Assembly passed the legislation for the Transportation Investment Act in a 2012 referendum. Voters in Region 7 passed the TIA (or TSPLOST) to assess themselves one cent over 10 years for major road projects. Region 7 was one of only three regions out of 12 around the state that actually voted in favor of TIA. What does that mean for us? Well, it’s our money, our roads and our improvements! Columbia County has eight major projects set for 2013–23, which are all major corridor projects that we need for connectivity to the Augusta/Richmond County area. Our first project completed is the largest! The extension of Riverwatch Parkway, which had been waiting

for funding since 1993, was funded with $35 million in TIA funds and $30 million in federal funds. Other projects on the radar include the widening of Flowing Wells Road, Horizon South Parkway, Lewiston Road and Furys Ferry Road near the state line. The Columbia County Chamber is proud to represent this great community. As the only Five-Star Accredited Chamber in this Georgia region — and one of only 103 in the entire nation — we believe that Columbia County is squarely focused on leading business and growth for the greater Augusta area. With the U.S. Army’s relocation of Army Cyber Command, nearby Fort Gordon is projected as one of two Army bases in the entire U.S. to experience growth in the near future. The greater Augusta region — from the Nathan Deal Cyber Institute in downtown Augusta to the ever-expanding intelligence presence on the military installation — is well-positioned to be a national leader in the cyber industry. As Fort Gordon grows, so does the demand for housing. When families relocate to this area, they look for good schools and safe neighborhoods. Columbia County is positioned to provide the quality of life that will make the county an even more attractive place to live and work and call home.

Tammy Shepherd is president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and has worked at Disney World, Savannah Rapids Pavilion and Columbia County Magazine. Email tammy@columbiacounty

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April 2019 Buzz on Biz


openings, closings and moves OPENINGS

Dollar Tree A new Dollar Tree is planned for the Village at Riverwatch shopping center, according to a report from The Augusta Chronicle. The 10,000-square-foot store will be at 804 Cabela Dr. So far, Guitar Center, Southeastern Synthetic Surgery, and Augusta Animal Emergency and Specialty Center have been announced as tenants at the Village at Riverwatch. A new studio for WRDW is also set to break ground there. Those tenants will join Cabela’s, Riverwatch Cinemas, Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers, and offices for Comcast and Delta Air Lines. Dollar Tree has 16 stores in the Augusta-Aiken area, according to the report. Meadows Original Frozen Custard A new ice cream shop is getting ready to open in Grovetown. Meadows Original Frozen Custard and Espresso Cafe, a Pennsylvaniabased franchise, will open at 715 Gateway Center Blvd. The shop will likely open in April, according to the owners. Owners Bethann and Brandon Goller relocated to the Augusta area in 2016 and noticed a lack of ice cream shops. Bethann and Brandon had both worked at Meadows in college and saw an opening for an old-fashioned, fullservice creamery. “We’re unique in that we offer drivethrough, sit down and walk-up,” Bethann said. Frozen custard is the franchise’s specialty, but it also offers Italian ice and espresso drinks. The 15,000-square-foot shop will seat around 32 people. The shop will also serve coffee from Marietta, Ga.based coffee shop Cool Beans Coffee. Namaste Indian Street Food A new Indian restaurant will soon open in Evans. The restaurant, Namaste Indian Street Food, will open at 4272 Washington Road, Suite 5A, the spot Laziza Mediterranean Grille moved from in January. (Laziza is still located in the same shopping center.) Namaste, which is owned by Manoj Parameswaran, specializes in Indian street food, including curries, tandoori chicken, kebabs and more. Parameswaran previously worked as a

12 Buzz on Biz April 2019

New bar’s owners look to be part of downtown Augusta’s growth A bar concept new to Augusta will hit downtown soon. Vance’s Bakery Bar, which will specialize in mixed drinks and boozy desserts, will open at 123 James Brown Blvd., near the corner of James Brown Boulevard and Jones Street behind the new location of Laziza Mediterranean Grille. The bar and cocktail lounge, named after the late father of coowner Amy Adamo, will create items including rum-infused Mexican mousse, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky cheesecake and bourbon chocolate chip cookies. Troy and Amy Adamo plan to open the bar in the late spring or early summer. After the Adamos started to think about plans that would follow Troy’s retirement from the military, they decided that they wanted Augusta to remain their family’s home. Amy wanted to spend her time baking for people. Troy had always wanted to open a bar. They decided to do both. That realization came at a time when the couple, who have both lived in the area for around 20 years, began to see a lot of potential in their city. “We feel a sense of pride,” Troy said. “It’s not just our city during the week of Masters, this is our city all the time. It’s where we want to be. We want people to come here and have a great experience and want to come back. It’s just been really cool to see the growth.”

Boozeinfused desserts will be among the items on offer at Vance’s Bakery Bar, which will open soon near the corner of James Brown Blvd. and Jones Street.

The 2,000-square-foot lounge will seat around 50 people and will have a midcentury-modern style. The entire business will have a local focus, from a mural created by a local artist inside Vance’s to products that feature spirits from soon-to-open Second City Distillery and local breweries. “We have these desserts and these drinks, and we’re gonna try and tie them to Augusta in any way we can, whether that’s in the name, or using ingredients that are regional or local,” Troy said. “When I first moved down here in 1989, the riverwalk was booming,” Amy said. “Everyone went down there on Friday nights and go eat and sit outside, and it was booming. And then it crashed, and then nobody wanted to come downtown, and it all went out to Evans and things like that. So, we love that it’s coming

chef at Augusta National Golf Club and decided it was time to pursue his passion of opening up his own restaurant. He said the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Platinum Detailing A new business called Platinum Detailing of Augusta is open downtown. The custom cleaning shop does shampooing, stain removal, dog hair removal and other detailing needs. It opened in January. “Just the stuff you’re not gonna get

back, and there’s different, new kinds of things coming up. And we want to engage local artists, local musicians, local businesses and try and bring it all together.” The Adamos said they’ve only seen concepts like Vance’s Bakery Bar in New York City and Nashville, Tenn. They hope to feature their treats around town at places like the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Augusta & Co. and Second City Distillery. “Our vision for Augusta is to continue to move forward with this,” Troy said. “We want to see a food and beverage store, a walking tour of downtown where people can go to these different places and try different things. We want to encourage those types of things and see if we can figure out ways to make it more and more of a destination.” whatever they need to get done, that’s what we do.” Platinum Detailing of Augusta is at 1201 Greene St. and is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Platinum Detailing of Augusta offers custom car cleaning services.

at the title place or the tire place or any other car wash,” said Eric Heard, owner of the shop. “So, we’re custom needs —

Zack’s Farm & Grill Zechariah Ha can wear the hat of both a farmer and a restaurateur now that he has opened Zack’s Farm & Grill Restaurant in Evans. Ha grows much of the food on the menu on his 60-acre farm in Clarks Hill, S.C. Ha, a native of South Korea, formerly owned Zack’s Wings & Seafood in

openings, closings and moves south Augusta. The menu at the new restaurant features mainly American cuisine with a few Asian dishes. Ingredients include eggs, poultry, fish, mushrooms and even some fruits that are grown on his farm. He also grows his own grapes for wine and uses honey from his beekeeping operation. Even the furniture is farm-grown. He used timber harvested from his farm to build the restaurant’s tables. The 2,400-square-foot restaurant is at 4408 Evans to Locks Road, in the plaza between Belair and Washington roads.

CLOSINGS Sno-Cap Drive-In on West Avenue has been a popular spot in North Augusta for decades. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Iconic eatery is changing hands Three local Bi-Lo stores will be closing, the company has announced.

Bi-Lo Supermarkets Supermarket chain Bi-Lo announced that three Augusta-area stores have closed or will close soon. Two Martinez locations and one North Augusta location of the chain were to be closed by March 25, including the stores at 111 Edgewood Ave., 500 Furys Ferry Road and 4480 Columbia Road. The company did not release the number of employees who will be displaced. The owner of Bi-Lo, Southeastern Grocers, also owns Fresco y Mas, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie chains. Tin Lizzy’s Cantina Tin Lizzy’s Cantina on Washington Road has closed. A sign on the restaurant’s door informed patrons: “Thank you for your support and patronage, it has been a privilege and honor to serve you,” the sign reads. “Unfortunately, Tin Lizzy’s Augusta is closing its doors effective 2/27/19.” The Atlanta-based chain restaurant was at 2821 Washington Road. The space was previously occupied by Famous Dave’s Barbecue and Mexican restaurant On the Border.

An iconic local restaurant has been sold to an iconic local family of restaurateurs. The Sno-Cap Drive-in on West Avenue in North Augusta has transferred ownership from Kenny and Rachel Franklin to Havird Usry, who is part of Fat Man’s Café and The Southern Salad. The drive-in has been part of North Augusta’s landscape for 55 years. Usry will become the third owner of the restaurant. The Franklins bought it in 1996. Usry is no stranger to North Augusta; his wife, Dr. Brook Usry, took over Dr. Ron Bryant’s practice on West Fatz Cafe Evans restaurant Fatz Cafe has closed. The restaurant first opened in 2004 and is owned by Cafe Enterprises Inc., which is based in Taylors, S.C., and also owns the chain Taverns 24. A sign on the restaurant’s door at its 464 N. Belair Road location read, “Sorry y’all, this location has closed. We’ve enjoyed providing southern hospitality to our community over the years.” Fatz Cafe was founded in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1998.


Baldino’s and Bojangles Two local eateries have temporarily closed for remodeling and will be open later in the year. Baldino’s Giant Jersey Subs at 3336 Wrightsboro Road is currently remodeling its building and plans to reopen later in the summer.

Avenue, just a few blocks from Sno-Cap, and the couple lives in the city, too. Usry plans to continue the popular bike night for motorcycle enthusiasts on the fourth Tuesday of each month and the Last Saturday Cruise-ins. The drive-in will continue under the name Sno-Cap and will serve lunch and dinner. There will be some menu changes, including hamburgers made from meat from Lanier’s Fresh Meat Market in Augusta. Usry also plans to bring back outside ordering and incar dining.

At 3852 Washington Road in Martinez, Bojangles Famous Chicken has also shut its doors for remodeling. It is expected to reopen later in the year.


Art & Soul Art & Soul of Aiken, the hub for local artists in downtown Aiken, has announced that it is expanding at its current location in The Alley in Aiken. “We have been very gratified with how well Art & Soul has been received by Aiken artists as well as by those who shop for high-quality local art,” said Kim Rising, co-owner of Art & Soul. Co-owner Stacy O’Sullivan said the expansion, which doubles the store’s square footage, gives the gallery more floor space for displays and more room for art classes and special events. There are 47 artists who rent spaces at Art & Soul. All maintain their own

floor space where they display a wide range of art, from stained and leaded glass to sculptures and pottery to paintings and wood creations. Rising and O’Sullivan also showcase and sell their work at the gallery. The two co-owners said that they founded Art & Soul in 2016 as a place where local artists could gather, display their work and encourage visual art in Aiken. Instead of paying Art & Soul a percentage of sales, the co-operative arrangement allows member artists to pay a monthly rent and keep the proceeds from their sales. Rising and O’Sullivan said this keeps prices down. There also is studio space in the gallery so people can come in and see artists at work. Among Art & Soul’s special events is an annual art contest for Aiken County students, including ones who are homeschooled. Art & Soul moved to its current location at 208 The Alley from Richland Avenue in 2017. April 2019 Buzz on Biz


upcoming business events Wednesday, April 3

Columbia County Chamber Executive Luncheon Series, 11:30 a.m., Savannah Rapids Pavilion, Martinez. Dr. Sandra Carraway, superintendent for Columbia County schools, and Scott Johnson, Columbia County administrator, will offer status updates on current projects, discuss future projects and answer questions. Registration is required. For more information, visit

Friday, April 5

First Friday Means Business, 7:30 a.m., 117 Newberry St. NW, Aiken. Informative breakfast meeting with a keynote speaker. For more information, visit

Saturday, April 6

Aiken Young Professionals Project Vision, 7:30 a.m., Aiken Chamber of Commerce, 121 Richland Ave. E, Aiken. The AYP will help a local disabled or senior homeowner with improvement projects. For more information, visit

Monday, April 15

Chamber After Hours, 5 p.m., Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, 1000 Business Blvd., Evans. A networking meeting. For more information, visit

Thursday, April 18

Networking for Leads, 4 p.m., Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, 1000 Business Blvd., Evans. A structured program designed to cultivate

14 Buzz on Biz April 2019

Ribbons cuttings scheduled March 29: Mane 18 Hair Studio, 4405 Evans to Locks Road, Evans, 12:30 p.m. April 17: More Than a Game Athlete Development Center, 4304 Sudan Drive, Augusta, 1 p.m. April 18: Fairfield Inn & Suites, 3023 1/2 Washington Road, Augusta, 4:30 p.m. April 22: David L. Huguenin PC, 4070 Columbia Road, Martinez, 4 p.m. April 25: Rising Chiropractic, 625 Ponder Place, Unit 2, 4 p.m. meaningful business relationships. For more information, visit

Tuesday, April 23

Doing Business with UGA – Procurement, 10 a.m., SharedSpace, 901 Greene St., Augusta. At this session, the University of Georgia procurement staff will provide small business owners with information on how to build a purchasing relationship with UGA. Registration is required. For more information, visit Women in Business, 11:30 a.m., Legends Club, 2701 Washington Road, Augusta. A guest panel will discuss the definition and qualities of an entrepreneur. The panel will share advice and lessons learned. Registration is required by April

19. For more information, visit Intro to Federal Contracting and Small Business Certifications – Procurement, 1 p.m., SharedSpace, 901 Greene St., Augusta. In this session, small business owners can learn the ins and outs of procuring federal, state and local contracts. Registration is required. For more information, visit

Thursday, April 25

Third Thursday Business Builder, 11:30 a.m., Augusta Metro Chamber Office, 1 10th St., Augusta. Melissa Furman, assistant dean at Hull College of Business at Augusta University, will speak about learning more affordable and no-cost career development strategies for recruiting and

retaining a diverse workforce. Registration is required by April 22. For more information, visit Business After Hours, 5 p.m., Westminster Memory Care, 2288 S. Centennial Ave., Aiken. A networking event for local businesses. For more information, visit

Saturday, April 27

QuickBooks – Basics and Beyond, 9 a.m., Small Business Development Center conference room, 2907 Professional Pkwy., Suite B, Augusta. In this all-day class, attendees will learn the basics of using QuickBooks Online. Registration is required. For more information, visit

Monday, April 29

Business After Hours, 5 p.m., Rosemary Inn Bed & Breakfast, 804 Carolina Ave., North Augusta. A business networking event for business professionals. For more information, visit


AT THECLUBHOU.SE April 3: 1 Million Cups features Plan with Gray and Augusta Locally Grown. 8-9 a.m. April 8-12: will be open for limited hours the week of the Masters Tournament. April 16: Join Peacing Life Together for an evening of talking about grief at the Academy on Telfair. 6-7:30 p.m. April 18: Augusta Blockchain plans to start building community around blockchain projects in greater Augusta. 6-8 p.m. April 23: Agile Augusta presents on the team mindset of Agile Project Management. 6-7 p.m. April 25: Augusta Developer welcomes Run Code Ninja to talk to our developers about the challenges of building a programming challenge platform. 6-8 p.m. April 26: AFCEA Small Business Roundtable connects the public with activities surrounding Fort Gordon. 8-9 a.m. April 26: Growler Gardening with Augusta Locally Grown at Community Garden on Telfair Street. 5-7 p.m. April 26: Run Code Night with Run Code leading some programming challenges live at! Come get started on Southern Dev challenges and win prizes the next day. There will be a n00b Nook for beginners. 6-9 p.m. April 27: Southern Dev Conference, presented by at the Georgia Cyber Center. All things DEVELOPER! 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 30: PyAugusta is presenting an Open Computer Vision (OpenCV) demo. 6-8 p.m. ONGOING EVENTS l Entrepreneur members of theClubhou. se meet every Wednesday morning for Founders Circle, 9-10 a.m. l Augusta Locally Grown’s downtown pickup location is at’s Telfair Street location from 4-7 p.m. every Tuesday. ALG has launched its initiative Nourishment19 out of theClubhou. se. This includes a variety of agricultural endeavors, from harvesting to buying local produce, educational movie nights and collaborative projects. Read more at its website,

Catch the Buzz! Get more on upcoming events and follow business and economic news across the CSRA at



ENTREPRENEURSHIP Buona Caffe John Curry, Owner Reflecting back to starting very young with his lawn business, John Curry commented about entrepreneurship, “I guess, really, it has always been part of my life.” A side business in photography during high school developed into a 35 year career in the newspaper industry. John spent the last 14 years of his career running the photography department of The Athens Banner-Herald and being the Visual Director at The Augusta Chronicle. John also had a rental property business in Athens, Ga and began roasting coffee as a hobby. Side projects have a knack for finding their way into a primary focus for John, and coffee was next to take center stage. Buona Caffe Artisan Roasted Coffee officially launched in Augusta, Ga in 2010. When asked how he discovered his co-founder, John shared, “Pat, my wife is co-owner of the business. We found each other 40 years ago at work!” They began popping up at the Saturday Market at the River and events around town to build a following. John also went knocking on doors of local restaurants to sell their coffee. At this time, they were roasting in a store front across the street from their current Central Avenue location. Originally self-funded, a small SBA loan helped to open the first coffee shop/ espresso bar in summer 2013. In preparing to expand into new spaces, Buona Caffe recently went through a rebrand with the Alison South Marketing Group. A second location opened in summer 2018 at the new Georgia Cyber Center. And most recently, they have expanded into a third location on Reynolds Street in downtown Augusta which serves as a storage & roasting facility and houses a classroom & training area where they

train baristas and hold coffee related tutorials for customers. When you visit, you can also see the espresso machine showroom! Many days, the routine for John is to resupply locations with fresh baked goods, coffee, and general items, and as with any business owner, reply to emails and handle bookkeeping. Once a week, John commits a full day to the bulk of the roasting, taking over 400 pounds of coffee from green to optimal roast. Usually he has a second roast day of 150 pounds later in the week. Along with supplying their two locations, Buona Caffe roasts and sells coffee wholesale to restaurants, coffee shops, caterers, etc. If you have had a cup of coffee with your meal out and about in some of Augusta’s fine dining, you’ve likely enjoyed a cup of Buona coffee. Travelling to the Wilcox in Aiken, Greystone Inn at Lake Toxaway, or the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta is a long way to go for a cup of Buona, though it will also be there waiting for you. Reflecting on the past few years, John explained, “The business has very much grown and developed over time. The largest impact of growing the customer base has been word of mouth. We really have the best customers.” John spoke to the next steps, “Since we have recently made the jump from one to three locations, our main focus will be getting all three running smoothly and to finish implementing the initial plan for our production facility. We will also be hiring some key people. For that, we look at resumes, go through an interview, and get a sense of behind bar interactions with customers as part of the hiring process. A large number of our employees come from being customers. We are also considering some coffee centric certifications.”

John Curry Being a member of has also had its impact. “There is always something to learn. I think the opportunities for networking are very valuable and I have met other entrepreneurs that I’m now doing business with.” Of running your own business, John remarked, “Be prepared to work hard and long hours. No one is going to care about your business as much as you do.” John derived one of his hallmark motivations from a favorite book of his, The Go Giver, by Bob Burg and John D. Mann: Provide more value than they expect.

WANT TO BECOME A MEMBER? VISIT Would you like to schedule a tour? STOP BY 100 Grace Hopper Lane Suite 3700 Augusta, Ga EMAIL

April 2019 Buzz on Biz



By Witt Wells As North Augusta’s Riverside Village has come to life over the last year with a new baseball park, high-end apartment complexes and a riverfront restaurant, a sleepy downtown North Augusta has remained largely unchanged. On one hand, that’s how much of the North Augusta community prefers it. It’s a simple, easygoing community that is “going to treat you like family,” said Suzanne Fanning, owner of North Augusta ice cream shop Pink Dipper. “I think people feel like North Augusta is a sleepy little bedroom community,” Fanning said. “We like it this way, but you know … it’s harder to maintain than it is to just change with the times.” As downtown Augusta experiences ongoing revitalization and Riverside Village redefines entertainment and living on the riverfront, North Augusta finds itself with an opportunity to revitalize its own downtown. Main Street South Carolina, a nonprofit that consults 22 downtowns statewide and partners with local development organizations, began working toward that goal last year when it selected North Augusta as a partner city. In February, Main Street presented a new vision for downtown North Augusta during a presentation with North Augusta Forward. “The part that made me excited was seeing the people outside of North Augusta Forward, outside of city government,” said North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover. “There were a lot more people who came. It transcended our organizations and actually got the greater citizenry involved.” Several ideas were pitched at the meeting, among them a restoration of the former North Augusta Carpet and Wallpaper building that could become a collection of casual dining and office space. Other plans included converting Marrh Theater into a winery, adding more crosswalks to make downtown pedestrianfriendly and giving storefronts a facelift. Making downtown more pedestrianfriendly became a priority for Main Street pretty early on. It’s an issue important to many North Augustans involved in the dialogue, from business owners including Fanning to officials including Glover. “I think that could be maybe even one of the first initiatives, because there is funding out there already,” Glover said. “There is the source of funding to do that work.” Fanning said crossing Georgia Avenue is an ordeal that discourages pedestrian

16 Buzz on Biz April 2019

North Augusta leaders and residents are making plans to revitalize downtown, capitalizing on the opportunites in such places as the old North Augusta Carpet and Wallpaper Shop property (above) and popular ice cream shop Pink Dipper. Photos by Gary Kauffman

activity altogether, when a downtown should be designed for walkability. “We want you to actually go and visit your neighbors,” said Jenny Boulware, director of Main Street South Carolina. “Make a day of downtown North Augusta. Bike the Greeneway. But also helping with rehabbing the structures.” Main Street’s approach to downtown revitalization includes design, organization through coordinated partnerships, promotion of the community and economic development. Main Street brings in a resource team focused on design, landscaping and organizational improvements to assess the community infrastructure and opportunities for growth. Based on that analysis, Main Street works with a local organization (in this case North Augusta Forward) to seek out the best creative strategies to build the fabric of the downtown and recruit new businesses. After three years of collabora-

tion, North Augusta would officially become a Main Street community. “It is refreshing when folks of this caliber come to our downtown and are overwhelmed with the potential for revitalization,” said Avery Spears-Mahoney, executive director of North Augusta Forward. “That says it all.” Main Street also wants to involve locals in all of those discussions. “We ask pointed questions,” Boulware said of the community presentation that was open to the public. “What do you like about your community? What do you want to see? We reached out to over 100 people over a day and a half. It was tremendously successful.” The most popular suggestion? A wider variety of restaurants. After conducting an online survey among North Augustans, Main Street found that locals’ favorite places downtown heavily favored eateries, Your Pie, Sno-Cap and Pink

Dipper among them. Food is an area where downtown North Augusta could expand, Boulware said. “The general consensus is we have enough pizza, we have enough Mexican,” Fanning said. “We have to stop replicating what we already have. Anything that’s new and original. There’s already been a lot of buzz about some of these other restaurants downtown, like Salt+Marrow. I’ve heard good things about the Jackson’s Bluff with the little rooftop bar — just the view itself looks insane. Southbound Smokehouse is coming down, that’s something different.” The way Glover sees it, Riverside Village, apart from being a destination on its own, gives North Augustans an opportunity to show what the rest of their city has to offer. “It’s introducing North Augusta to people who have never been there before,” he said. “I think it’s going to benefit the entirety of downtown, not just Riverside Village.” Glover also said he would like to see more residential development in the downtown business district. “As much as anything, it just gets people’s imaginations going,” he said. “When you start getting entrepreneurs and investors thinking about investing, that’s when things start to happen.” According to an Augusta Chronicle report, Tripp Muldrow, a project manager for Main Street South Carolina, said during a presentation in February that the city exports about 8,000 white-collar professionals across the river. Investments in new restaurants could provide an economic boost for the city, should it become a more attractive destination. “One of the biggest takeaways with the Main Street approach is it’s not a project,” Boulware said. “You always need a person or group in that downtown space to make sure it’s cared for and guided. This Main Street effort allows for a way to get people plugged in.” Among all the revitalization projects she has worked on, Boulware said she was particularly impressed with the involvement of North Augusta Forward’s board members. “The NA Forward board is comprised of folks that are engaged in the community and passionate about fostering positive change and appropriate development in downtown North Augusta,” SpearsMahoney said. “They know the value of collaboration and have a desire to work with all stakeholders on both sides of the river.”

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April 2019 Buzz on Biz



URBAN FARMS BECOME A REFUGE IN AUGUSTA’S FOOD DESERT By Witt Wells Five years ago, Judy Stocker had a heart attack. Hypertension and high blood pressure, for which she was taking 12 doses of preventative medicine at one point, along with three daily doses of Metformin (a diabetic medication), were two of the main causes, she said. She believes another one of the factors was her diet, which triggered a major wake-up call for Stocker. “I’m fairly certain that my diet was one of the culprits,” Stocker said. Soon after she had the heart attack, Stocker was taking a walk through her neighborhood and noticed a small market set up at the corner of Broad and Eve streets. Stocker started socializing and found herself in a conversation with Kim Hines, director of Augusta Locally Grown, an organization that supports small farms and gardeners by making their natural, locally and sustainably grown foods available for sale in the Augusta area. Hines asked Stocker if she’d be interested in manning a gardening advice booth, which eventually led Stocker to enroll in ALG’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, which provides locally grown produce to 40 families at risk of diet-related diseases while also teaching them to cook good, local food for themselves, and to incorporate healthy food into their diet on a daily basis. Participants are also able to double their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) value by purchasing from the Veggie Park Farmers’ Market on Eve Street. Of the 219 individuals who received a voucher for $1 per day per household member in 2017, 79 percent had a household income of $25,000 a year or less, 57 percent received food stamps, 34 percent were uninsured, and nearly half were covered by Medicaid or Medicare, according to a report from The Augusta Chronicle. Thirty percent reported hunger as a result of being unable to afford to buy food. At the end of the six-month program, only 3 percent of people said they were still hungry. “We would go in once a month to see the doctor — height, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, waist circumference, talk about where you’re doing well, talk over the strategies on how to correct that if there was correction needed,” Stocker said. Stocker said that by the time she was finished with the program, she was only

18 Buzz on Biz April 2019

Ashley Gutierrez Siler, project facilitator for Golden Harvest Food Bank, checks out the urban garden at The Master’s Table downtown. Augusta Locally Grown partnered with Golden Harvest to build the garden, one of several with which it is affiliated. Photo by Witt Wells

taking three pills for high blood pressure and one dose of Metformin. “I feel better, I have more energy, I’ve lost some weight — not nearly as much as I’d like to,” Stocker said. “There’s a lot less medicine on my shelf these days. I’m spending more time with friends and family instead of dragging myself from day to day.” As an advocate for community health through natural and local foods, Stocker knows what she is up against as a Harrisburg native. According to a 2018 report from Food Research and Action Center, Richmond County ranked 11th nationally in food hardship in metropolitan areas (Georgia ranked ninth among states). For several years, Augusta has also performed poorly on an annual community health study conducted by WalletHub. The study takes into account health care, food, fitness and access to green space. Among 174 metropolitan areas in the country, Augusta ranked 168. While its health care rating was 115, it came in second-to-last in highest percentage of adults not eating enough fruits and vegetables per day.

“Our city is defined as a food desert for lack of a grocery store (in the city center),” Hines said. “That affects a lot of people.” Following the release of the same WalletHub study in 2017, in which Augusta also landed near the bottom of the ranking, Rodney Lyn, director of the Division of Health Management Policy at Georgia State University, was interviewed, along with a local personal trainer, about the causes of good and bad community health. “If you’re not an environment that supports and promotes a healthy choice, it becomes very difficult,” Lyn said. “If you want to eat healthy and you live in an urban area, can you access healthy foods? Those are things that really matter. Are we creating environments that support healthy behaviors?” Thomaston, Ga.-based internist Dr. Earl Stewart Jr., who is from Augusta, wrote the following in a column in The Augusta Chronicle in 2018: “Fresh fruit and vegetables are crucial to maintaining adequate nutrition in preventing chronic, preventable medical conditions tied to obesity and obesity-related illnesses.

Bring them a farmer’s market. Give them a grocery store where they can purchase fresh produce, and do it now. To do nothing is not an option. Take a communityfocused approach and perform a needs assessment.” Before Stocker retired, she worked at call center Sitel in south Augusta. She didn’t have a car and was fully reliant on public transit, so she would leave home at 10 a.m. in order to get to work by 3 p.m. She would walk from her Harrisburg home to Broad Street, then to the nearest bus station, and catch that bus to the transfer terminal, where she would wait for the bus that would take her to Gordon Highway to another transfer point. That bus would then take her to Peach Orchard Road. From there, she would walk around three quarters of a mile to Sitel. On that kind of schedule, Stocker’s dietary schedule was pretty straightforward: grab whatever she could get — usually a cheeseburger, fries or fried chicken — and keep on trekking. The same goes for making a grocery store run that might take the average person with a car around an hour, she said.

“The transportation in the city being what it is, it’s really very difficult for people to get to the grocery store,” Stocker said. “Especially folks in this neighborhood. When I was driving to the grocery store, I could be back home in less than an hour. Trying to catch the bus to go to the grocery store, it can take half a day. That’s not going to fit into people’s schedules if you’ve got children, you’ve got a job. For the elderly, there’s the issue of just trying to get around. It becomes next to impossible.” In that context, shopping for daily meals at convenience stores, discount retailers or eating fast food becomes a preferable choice on a daily basis. “Talking about the fast food density, I just think about Walton Way out there, 15th Street to Druid Park,” said Havird Usry, co-owner of The Southern Salad and Fat Man’s Mill Café. “It’s like Cookout, McDonalds, Burger King, A-Town Wings, Dunkin’ Donuts, Waffle House, Arby’s. It’s crazy. And these people have no grocery store, so their income is being shot directly over to these fast food joints and gas stations, and that’s what they’re living off of. “Let’s face it, that doesn’t improve that statistic, it never will.” Usry and Stocker both pointed out that, when healthy options are available, smart spending in a produce section can leave a shopper walking out of the grocery store

“This is about all of us as a city learning how to appreciate these foods in their whole forms, in their real forms, without added sugars, without preservatives, without high processing.” – Kim Hines, director of Augusta Locally Grown with more money than they would have after stocking up on packaged foods. “A lot of the folks don’t have that nutritional education,” Usry said. “I was raised by my mom, who’s a personal trainer and hands out plans for diets. There’s a lot of homes that aren’t like that.” “With folks with restricted budgets, it makes economic sense,” Stocker said of homegrown produce. “Twenty dollars you can get seeds, you can get the veggies and fruits you’ll need for a year. You can just save your seeds and continue to grow those crops over and over and over again.” Realistically, downtown Augusta might not get a grocery store for a few more years. But food education is at the core of what ALG does with partners including Icebox Urban Farm (ALG partners with around seven urban farms and gardens throughout the city), which Stocker manages and has grown as a nutrition and gardening education ground in Harrisburg.

Icebox Urban Farm, on Fenwick Street, operates as a teaching garden and greenhouse, and attendees can become certified naturally grown gardeners. Graduates from the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program and others often stay connected and cook with each other, Stocker said. Instead of the hamburgers that were a staple of her diet a few years ago, Stocker will prepare a sweet potato with black bean enchiladas. On one of her three meatless days per week, dinner might be vegetable soup, usually made with ingredients from her own garden. “With Augusta Locally Grown, I’ve become more involved with the community, I’m more active with my church, just doing a lot more stuff that I’ve always wanted to do,” Stocker said. In the context of a food desert that spans much of the city, it’s a very small step. But that’s how education begins — with the planting of a seed.

“I see a lot of good things happening,” Hines said. “A Richmond County public school hired the first gardening educator. The other day, we had a mushroom-growing workshop here, it more than double sold out. But we need a whole lot more resources.” While the fruits and vegetables prescription program is one of ALG’s prized initiatives, Hines envisions a day when the program impacts 2,000 people who lack food security instead of 200. But currently, ALG just doesn’t have the resources for that many diet-related preventative interventions. Over the last few years, the group has applied more data-driven studies to programs like the fruit and vegetable prescription program, which has allowed ALG to gather biometrics data to measure the effectiveness of progress among members. Hines hopes that once ALG has a few more years of solid data across several programs, funding through partnerships will be more likely. “This is about all of us as a city learning how to appreciate these foods in their whole forms, in their real forms, without added sugars, without preservatives, without high processing,” Hines said. “People across the nation … we are in the cycle of more convenient, highly processed foods. We’re all coming to this table together, and we all have this problem.”


April 2019 Buzz on Biz



Words have the power to build up — or tear down By Dagan Sharpe Words are powerful — truly, the pen is mightier than the sword. Yet, so many people struggle with controlling their tongues. Rather than using our words to edify, encourage and inspire, we so often use words to degrade and disrespect. But some of the most strategic principals to improve both our leadership and our language can be discovered in a variety of sources.

l Resist promoting yourself, but let others promote you. It’s much more effective in getting noticed. l The one who dominates the conversation is often the most insecure but is trying to not let anyone else know it. l The one who listens more

and speaks periodically is often perceived as the smartest and most confident. l We get more with “honey than vinegar.” Kindness over cruelty gets more. l Helping others without telling others how often you help others displays authentic leadership. l Speaking to encourage, edify, nourish and elevate is more effective than speaking to criticize, complain and critique. Clearly, there are many more such thoughts, but

these collected nuggets are quite often the most ignored, perhaps through ignorance or pure selfish ambition. Yet, as we read them, they might conjure up images of people we know. We may also feel the sting of conviction, as we realize we can also be among those guilty of committing these verbal infractions. Thankfully, we can learn, often by seeking out mentors we most admire, even if they are not directly among us, via books, blogs and various online outlets. The key is investing the time to develop ourselves, our leadership, our communication skills and our confidence so that we can make the best contribution possible — wherever we might be. It reminds me of some helpful insight I once heard. It was, “Whatever others think about us, we have taught them to think.” Therefore, let us always consider: What are we teaching?

Dagan Sharpe is senior vice president of Queensborough National Bank & Trust and the author of Highways End and Full Disclosure. Email him at


SoftWashing and its role in increased value of your home By Tony Creighton As the saying goes, “first impressions stick,” and there is nowhere that is more evident than when a home is on the market. The very first impression is often the one that stays with prospective buyers, and often, a home covered in dirt or algae doesn’t stand a chance. Indeed, when a home does not look clean, nothing else seems quite right. A SoftWash of your home’s exterior siding, stucco or brick, and its driveway and walkway surfaces increases the value because it removes dirt, grime, mold, mud, algae and other organic growth and materials. By so doing, it increases the aesthetic value of the house, making it vi-

20 Buzz on Biz April 2019

sually appealing to the buyers. Additionally, a clean home exterior will give prospective buyers the impression that your home has been well maintained. You as a Realtor or seller are communicating to prospective buyers that your home is worth the time, effort and money you’ve put into it for regular care and maintenance and can greatly add to the value of your home. Given all the advantages of pressure washing, Realtors and homeowners must consider hiring professional pressurewashing companies if they want to increase their curb appeal and raise the value of their property. Selling a house at the highest possible value is not an easy task, and it requires your full attention to detail.

The exterior parts of the house, such as the roof, siding, driveway/walkway and patio surfaces, are the focal points of the entire house; without an appealing curb aesthetic, prospective buyers might never even make it inside to see the rest of your home. Professional cleaners are trained to use the proper equipment, techniques and detergents to ensure the highest-quality cleaning of your home’s exterior surfaces. By using a professional pressure-washing company, you’re guaranteeing your home will receive the highest-quality cleaning while also ensuring no damage is done to its surfaces. Everyone loves a clean environment. Pressure washing makes the house exterior clean and helps the prospective

buyer feel that the house is the best one for him or her. You can move into a pressure-washed house more easily and settle down faster than in one that has not been pressure-washed. Indeed, buying a dirty house when clean ones are out there beats logic, and that is why pressure-washed houses normally sell faster. Tony Creighton is the owner/ operator of ALLCLEAN™ Pressure Washing LLC and its subsidiary, Augusta PROCLEAN™ — committed to providing high-quality cleanings for the CSRA’s commercial properties and homes. Call 706.651.8089 or email allclean

NEW BARBECUE RESTAURANT OPENS DOWNTOWN Barbecue shop Riverside Smoke has opened at the corner of 10th and Ellis streets in Augusta. Riverside Smoke is the first full restaurant venture from Scott Gibbs and John Johnson, who founded the North Augusta-based food truck of the same name. The duo has been honing their craft and serving it to area residents since 2012, when they competed in Evans’ Banjo-BQue and found enough success to feel confident buying a food trailer. Six years later, they set out to create a dynamic local barbecue joint with a “Nashville flair” in the center of downtown. “We’re trying to bring good, quality brisket to Augusta on a consistent basis,” Gibbs said. “And really, more important than anything, the fellowship. Barbecue’s a product that people enjoy together.” The new restaurant, which is open Wednesday through Saturday, seats around 75 people and has a fast-casual option for easy pickup. The back of the restaurant has a full-service bar and an open room designed for live music and spacious seating. While brisket and pork are Riverside

Riverside Smoke, at 302 10th St. in Augusta, seats about 75 people and has a full-service bar. The spot specializes in barbecue pork and brisket.

Smoke’s specialty, the eatery will serve a variety of other dishes influenced by Johnson’s and Gibbs’ Georgia-Carolina upbringing. “We’re really proud of the place, excited to show everybody what we’ve been up to for the last six months,” Gibbs said. Riverside Smoke is at 302 10th St.


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April 2019 Buzz on Biz



McNEAL LEADS GOLDEN HARVEST WITH PASSION FOR PEOPLE By Gary Kauffman Many people feel they’re on the right career path, but only a few can say they were chosen for their jobs by God. Travis McNeal is one of those few. McNeal is executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta, which partners with about 270 agencies to distribute food to the food insecure — people who either don’t have the funds to purchase food or have no way to get to food within 15-30 minutes. That includes all types of people, from schoolchildren to seniors, in a 30-county area. Golden Harvest also runs the Masters Table, which serves 325 hungry people 365 days a year at its location in downtown Augusta.

Travis McNeal, Golden Harvest Food Bank Golden Harvest began in 1982, when a group of people asked Mike Firmin to create a food bank. Since then, the food bank has distributed 250 million pounds of food to 14 million people. As Firmin began winding down his career 10 years ago, he prayed that God would show him who his successor would be. McNeal, as an associate pastor at Warren Baptist Church, had collaborated with Golden Harvest for several years and occasionally shared a meal with Firmin. “After getting to know him, he revealed to me over lunch that he felt that God told him I was to be his successor,” McNeal said. “God was moving in a miraculous way through something only He could do. There was nothing I could do to make it happen.” Getting involved in a mission-type outreach was nothing new for McNeal, who had spent 20-plus years as a pastor raising awareness about helping others. Although new to the food bank business, McNeal realized he had a unique set of skills to do the job. “I had a strong level of confidence from the beginning because I knew God had designed me with certain experiences,” he said. Those experiences included being raised in a household where his father owned businesses, working in sales in those businesses, and then years of being

22 Buzz on Biz April 2019

Golden Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Travis McNeal says the food bank is striving to focus on health in addition to hunger, working with medical professionals to more completely address people’s needs. Photo contributed

on stage in front of people, as well as appearing on television. He also is passionate about people. All of those skills have come into play as the leader of Golden Harvest. “I’m a people person,” he said. “You’ve got to love people and be passionate about what they do, especially in feeding the hungry. You must have great passion for it. You can’t fake it.” Taking the mantle from the founder of an organization after 30 years can be a daunting task. “You have to go into it with complete humility and openness to learn everything you can,” McNeal said. McNeal and Firmin spent three years working side by side in an office to make the transition in leadership. On his first day, McNeal bought a large sponge and placed it on his desk as a reminder that he needed to soak up all the knowledge Firmin could give him. Since taking the reins at Golden Harvest, a key word in McNeal’s vocabulary has been “innovation.” “Going the next step means walking in faith to see where the next opportunity is, where we can be most effective and efficient in serving the hungry for the next 30 years,” he said. “That requires change, but I’m not afraid of change. I actually love change if it moves us to touch more people.” Toward that end, Golden Harvest is focusing more on health, both in the food it distributes and in urging life changes. It is partnering with health care professionals, insurance providers, doctors and pharmacists to create a more well-rounded approach to the social and health is-

sues that can lead to hunger. “Today, it’s about much more than just providing food,” McNeal said. “We’re also concerned about social determinants that lead many of our clients to poor health and young children to poor development of their minds.” A pilot program with medical professionals will assess the needs of patients while Golden Harvest provides a nutritious food box. The program will gather data that will help them provide even better services. McNeal also has a goal of hiring a dietitian at Golden Harvest to help educate clients on how to access and prepare healthier foods.

In his own words

What are you passionate about in your business? “One element I’m really passionate about, because we’re a faith-driven food bank, is that we will continue to awaken the churches in our community that it is our biblical responsibility to take care of those less fortunate than we are. One way we’ve done that is by partnering with over 270 agencies that come alongside us with the same heart, so that the individuals are at the core of everything we do. That’s why our mission statement is three simple words: Feeding lives together.” What’s the best thing about being a nonprofit? “The best thing at Golden Harvest Food Bank is that we get to do one of the greatest things I can think of every day. Everything we do is focused on making a person’s life better. What can be more rewarding than that?”

What is the hardest thing about being a nonprofit? “The most challenging thing is that a lot of the responsibility rests on your organization being successful. And receiving enough funding in this competitive nonprofit culture in Augusta. Will there be enough funds to go around? Will the cost of food and transportation squelch our ability to be as effective as we have been?” How do you unwind? “Over time I’ve learned not to take my work home. You can’t work all day and all night. I like to work in the yard. In the summer, I like to walk in the river and collect rocks. My wife, Angela, and I are not people who do a lot, but we’re always together. We’re empty nesters now, but before that we always did things as a family.” Who inspires you? “All throughout life there are many people and factors that are the building blocks of inspiration, in school and all the different jobs, the church teams I’ve served on and some of my pastors, throughout all of life. Key friendships are always a great source of trust and inspiration. It’s a joy to find moments when people inspire you. I’m regularly inspired by my own team members. That’s an honor and a privilege.” How do you give back to the community? “Outside of my lanes at the food bank, I like to give back to others. I live a life of giving back to others. God provides opportunities for that when you’re in the right places and your heart is in tune with it. I give back through whatever church I’m serving in. My wife and I give monetarily, whether that’s a Christian radio station or monthly support of a missionary.” What does the future hold for you and Golden Harvest? “I’ve got 10-12 more years to serve somewhere. I’m not at the point (of passing on leadership), but it’s something I think about frequently. I’m always trying to lead this company and team in a way that they could do it without me. I don’t want to be the Blockbuster of yesterday or the giraffe of Toys ‘R Us, so I want to spend my time preparing an innovative platform of assuring that tomorrow’s generation will know how to plug in and take care of the hungry, who will always be with us.”


If time is running out, tax extension is an option By Christine Hall Obtaining a six-month extension to file your personal income tax return is relatively easy, and there are legitimate reasons for doing so; however, there are also a few downsides. If you need more time to file your tax return this year, here’s what you need to know about filing an extension. An extension of time to file is a formal way to request additional time from the IRS to file your tax return, which, in 2019, is due on April 15. Anyone can request an extension, and you don’t have to explain why you’re asking for more time. Individuals are automatically granted an additional six months to file their tax returns. In 2019, the extended due date is Oct. 15. Taxpayers should be aware that an extension of time to file a return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your taxes. In 2019, April 15 is the deadline for most people to pay taxes owed and avoid penalty and interest charges. One misconception is that if an extension is filed, a taxpayer has a better chance of getting audited. This is totally untrue. Being audited is not dependent on when you file your return. As with most things, there are pros and cons to filing an extension. Here are a few of both:

Extension pros

1. You can avoid a late-filing penalty if you file an extension. 2. You are able to file a more accurate — and complete — tax return. Rather than rushing to prepare your return (and possibly making mistakes), you will have an extra six months to gather up required tax records, especially if you are still waiting for tax documents that haven’t arrived or need more time to organize your tax documents in support of deductions. 3. If your tax return is complicated, then your tax preparer or accountant will have more time to work on your return to make sure you can take advantage of every tax credit and deduction you are entitled to under the tax code. 4. If you are self-employed, you’ll have extra time to fund a retirement plan. Individual 401(k) and SIMPLE plans must have been set up during the tax year for which you are filing, but it’s possible to fund the plan as late as the extended due date for your prior year tax return. Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA plans may be opened and funded for the

An extension is for time to file, not for extra time to pay. This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of filing an extension. previous year by the extended deadline as long as an extension has been filed. 5. Filing an extension preserves your ability to receive a tax refund when you file past the extension due date. Filers have three years from the date of the original due date (e.g., April 15, 2019) to claim a tax refund. However, if you file an extension you’ll have an additional six months to claim your refund. In other words, the statute of limitations for refunds is also extended.

Extension cons

1. If you are expecting a refund, you’ll

have to wait longer to receive it than you would if you filed on time. 2. An extension is for time to file, not for extra time to pay. This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of filing an extension. If you don’t pay a least 98 percent of the tax due by the April 15 deadline, you will be liable for late-payment penalties and interest. The failure to pay penalty is one-half of 1 percent for each month, or part of a month, up to a maximum of 25 percent of the amount of tax that remains unpaid from the due date of the return until the tax is paid in full. 3. When you request an extension, you

will need to estimate your tax due for the year based on information available at the time you file the extension. If you disregard this, your extension could be denied, and if you filed the extension at the last minute, assuming it would be approved — but it wasn’t — you may owe late filing penalties as well. Filing an extension is not a negative thing. Just be sure to estimate an amount that you might owe and pay it by April 15 to avoid late-payment penalties. The Internal Revenue Service understands that every tax preparer cannot file every taxpayer’s return in the short two-month period we are provided. There are literally not enough hours in the day, so be kind to your tax preparers! Christine Hall is a partner in Hall, Murphy & Associates PC, a full-service accounting firm. For a complimentary accounting, tax or business consultation, call 706.855.7733 or email cmh@

April 2019 Buzz on Biz




Nothing stays fixed in mechanics or in business By Ed Enoch

Health care price transparency: Will we change behavior? By Russell Head At the forefront of media-driven political rhetoric is the progressive idea of “Medicare for all.” Why have 106 House Democrats pushed forward with a new legislative bill to cover everyone through Medicare? The quick and easy answer is out-ofcontrol cost. We could certainly debate a number of different answers to that question, but cost is by far the most glamorous and gregarious at the same time. The most recent statistics show that Americans spend 17.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on health care expenditures. Unfortunately, the number seems to climb each year, with nothing to stop its insurmountable ascent. The Trump administration is considering publicizing the negotiated rates payers (insurance companies, HMOs, etc.) make with providers for health care services, drugs and medical devices, according to a request for comment tucked in the middle of a 700-page Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) interoperability rule released last month.

24 Buzz on Biz April 2019

This past year, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar made price transparency one of his top policy priorities by advancing a new regulation requiring hospitals to publicize how much they charge for procedures and treatments. The charges represent list prices, which are basically inflated amounts that consumers and payers never actually pay due to negotiated managed care contracts. Furthermore, the required disclosures use opaque terminology and old acronyms that are simply burdensome for the hospital to explain and confusing for the consumer/patient to understand. Perhaps even more perplexing is the fact that the list price reveals nothing about quality. Shouldn’t patient safety and well-being (outcomes) correlate with pricing? Ultimately, those aspects of quality have little to do with the managed care negotiated pricing. The United States needs a system where all reputable hospital ratings systems are gathered and presented in an easy-to-read format — and accessible electronically or on paper. Consumers of health care need to know and understand what is presented so they can make the appropriate compar-

isons and choices. We need every hospital to participate in reporting a standardized set of metrics on pricing, outcomes and patient safety. Withholding true price and quality transparency is unhealthy for decision-makers — consumers of health care. Let’s assume the consumer has this newfound transparent information at his or her fingertips. Here is the defining question. Will this change behavior? Simply because you have access to it, will you use it to make better-informed decisions of where to go? The health insurance industry has directed a consumer-driven health care environment for years, yet many would say it is simply cost shifting. The power of information to make informed decisions on health care choices should be transparent and readily available. Until it is, we should not expect behaviors in health care to change. Russell T. Head is CEO of Head Capital Advisors, an Acrisure agency partner and Augusta’s largest employee benefits brokerage. He can be reached at 706.733.3459 or

My son and I are rebuilding a 30-year-old motorcycle for his high school senior project. After several months of working on it, the machine was finally ready for the road. We anxiously took it to Augusta University for a maiden voyage. Before long, the motorcycle was shrouded in smoke, the clutch burnt out. As we pushed it back into the garage, my son looked at me and asked, “Nothing ever stays fixed, does it, Dad?” He is so right! It is a critical lesson we in business need to remember. Business conditions change, employees change and, most particularly for me, laws change. This came to focus recently when the federal Department of Labor (DOL) announced hearings on a new overtime rule. At the end of the Obama administration, the DOL announced a new rule to increase the minimum salary for employees exempt from overtime rules. The Trump administration blocked that rule. Now the DOL is back, asking for comment on a rule with a more modest increase. Businesses, particularly small businesses, need to stay alert and respond to changes in our workplace, be they internal nor external. We cannot be asleep at the wheel, assuming all is well. Stay informed, stay awake or get left behind, because truly, nothing ever stays fixed!

J. Edward “Ed” Enoch has practiced law in Augusta for more than 20 years, mostly focusing on helping business owners and companies to include formation, transition, business planning, contract writing, employment law and other areas of the law. Email jenoch@


Have the courage to face the truth By Mark Alison It takes blood and guts to be a business owner. You deserve a medal. What most people think is liberation from a 40-hour workweek is often an 80-hour or more workweek, and the reward is not always financial. Having started multiple small businesses of my own and marketed/consulted with many others over the past 40-plus years, I have seen or personally experienced a lifetime of good and bad decisions. I hope these insights will be valuable to anyone who chooses to take the risk. Secret shopping was all the craze once. Businesses would employ a company to actually shop at their stores and provide a comparison to similar stores based on best practices. Our research company, AnswersInc, provided this service for several fast food restaurants. The results were sometimes surprising, often amusing and always enlightening. Whatever business you have, even if it’s an online-only company, secret shopping or some variation of it is worth considering. At one location of drivethrough restaurants we “shopped” at, the third-shift window person had a habit of “accidentally” dropping a few cents on the ground when making change. Most drivers weren’t concerned about a few cents, especially enough to get out of the car at night, and so the window person would go outside at the end of her shift and pick up a few extra dollars each evening. This is an intentional deception. Most issues are not this flagrant, but they can be just as irritating to your customer. One particular auto parts company owner was having problems getting product into parts houses. His new salesman came with plenty of experience, and the products were priced well. The problem, as it turned out, was that the salesman had a chronic case of halitosis. Buy-

26 Buzz on Biz April 2019

Each day, when you wake up, take a moment to say to yourself, “Today, I will face the truth.” Several thoughts will pop into your mind; prioritize them, and then take care of business.

ers were so put off that they cut the sales call short. No one had the courage to let this poor guy know. And that introduces one of the most important points I can make to entrepreneurs — when you wake up each morning, sit on the side of the bed and say to yourself, “Today, I will have the courage to face the truth.” The things that you need to get serious about will pop into your mind. Some of them will

be more vivid than others. Prioritize them, and then take care of business. The owner knew the guy had bad breath — he just didn’t want to face the issue. Something as simple as having a college student call some of your previous customers to carry out a quick survey can be very enlightening. Have your caller ask questions such as, “Were you pleased with the service?” “Anything the company could have done better?” “Would

you recommend the company to a friend? Why or why not?” “If you had not called this company, what company would you have called?” “How did you come to know about us?” When you read the responses, don’t simply discount something negative. In response to a negative report, I had one client say, “Our rep knows that person, and they have always been a problem.” Take the data as a whole and

consider whether that problem could also be someone else’s problem. Maybe it’s worth looking into. And don’t put too much stock in your salesperson’s response to the issue, if the issue involves the salesperson. You might be thinking, “What? You mean my contact person might not be telling the truth? Could it be a case of ‘CYA?’” I am only saying everyone has a perception of an event based on his or her experiences. What sounds like a door slamming to one person sounds like a gunshot to another, and they both take appropriate action. Use your best judgment and stay neutral until you have the facts. So, do you always have to follow up on everyone else? The answer is YES! Here’s the problem you have: You stand in the gap between your customer’s expectation and what you promised. If the printer is late, it isn’t the printer they blame. If the cook puts mayonnaise on the sandwich instead of mustard, it isn’t the cook they blame. If the address is wrong on the work order and you show up late, it’s not the clerk they blame. It’s you! It’s your company. It’s your reputation. Employees come and go. Let the bad ones go. Follow up on issues until you are satisfied with the response. Have someone do some simple secret shopping to see if the service you think you are delivering is what your customers are experiencing. It’s not deceptive on your part to be the boss. It’s what you inherited when you signed up for this gig. Watch for more Blood and Guts articles and share this with other entrepreneurial friends. Believe me, small business and entrepreneurs need all the help they can get. Got any good stories yourself ? Shoot me e-mail at Mark Alison, the Business Accelerator, is an independent marketing counselor. He can be reached at


It pays to be nice to everyone — sometimes in a big way By Gary Kauffman A few years ago, a client of mine told me a story about his friend George that had changed my client’s outlook on his business. George was vacationing in Florida and one morning decided to take a walk along the beach. Because he was just going for a walk, he didn’t bother to shave and he donned a simple white T-shirt, cutoff jeans and some raggedy flip-flops. Along the way, he passed a marina offering yachts for sale. One of them drew his interest and he stopped to examine it. George noticed the spiffy salesmen glance at him, then look away. None of them came out to help him, thinking he was a beach bum or, at best, a poor tourist. Finally, a young kid named Donnie, whose job it was to clean the boats and sweep up, noticed George and asked if he could help him. George indicated his interest in the yacht and Donnie eagerly filled him in on the yacht’s details, taking him for a quick tour, before returning to his job of drudgery. George continued with his walk. What the salesmen and Donnie didn’t realize was that George owned a large company and was a multi-millionaire who could afford several yachts if he wanted them. The next day, George drove to the marina in his Mercedes, wearing a tailored suit. The salesmen practically tripped over themselves in their eagerness to help him and show him the boats for sale. George merely asked to speak to the manager.

When the manager arrived, George said, “I want to buy that yacht, but on one condition — that the commission goes to Donnie.”

cause he didn’t let appearances stop him from treating George with respect. My client said the story was a good reminder to him to treat all his customers with equal respect, regardless of their appearance. Years before that happened, a friend of a friend named Ken took my family and me to a large gameworks facility. We soon discovered that almost all the workers greeted Ken by name and were genuinely glad to see him. And Ken greeted most of them by name, too. Soon, we were receiving special privileges — early admittance, entry into games that were closed off to other pa-

People matter, no matter their position. That custodian or secretary is just as important to a company as the person who occupies the corner office. After some hemming and hawing, the manager agreed to the request. Donnie ended up with a fat commission check probably greater than his monthly salary — perhaps even his yearly salary — be-

trons, a few extra tokens — all because of Ken. Ken worked for a company that had installed much of the wiring in the facility, and the job required his periodic attention for maintenance. During his visits, Ken made a point of talking to the people — not the bigshots, but the ordinary workers. Ken didn’t do it because he thought he might get some extra game tokens but because he genuinely respected and cared about the people. He learned their names and some of their background, and he talked to them each time he did any work there. As a result, he earned their respect. It was a good reminder to me that people matter, no matter their position. That custodian or secretary is just as important to a company as the person who occupies the corner office, even if their position within the company may not seem as valuable. It might seem like our businesses are about products and services, but in the end, they’re all about people, both customers and staff. Customers go to companies where they’re treated well; employees work where they’re valued and respected. And, as Donnie and some red-faced boat salesmen learned, it pays to be nice to everyone you meet.

In addition to serving as editor of Buzz on Biz, Gary Kauffman is a Christian life coach working from an office in Martinez. Contact him at 803.341.5830 or kauffman or visit






April 2019 Buzz on Biz



By Witt Wells

Just weeks before the 83rd Masters Tournament and the Augusta GreenJackets’ 2019 season opener, Southbound Smokehouse 2 opened next to SRP Park in North Augusta. The Crowne Plaza, Ironwood Apartments and The Clubhouse Apartments have opened in the last five months, shaping what is becoming a high-end residential and entertainment development that is unique to the area. Buzz on Biz talked to Brian Brittingham and George Claussen, the owners of Southbound Smokehouse, about their vision for Southbound 2 as a multifaceted venue, the development process and their partnership with one of Atlanta’s most popular breweries. What was the initial inspiration for choosing this spot? Claussen: “It is so great to be by the stadium, but nothing’s better than being by the river.” Brittingham: “In my lifetime, there’s never been riverfront dining around here. These two communities are embracing the river right now, and it’s just perfect timing. There’s not any other restaurants on the water, there’s nowhere to eat and enjoy the view. You can see, it’s pretty amazing. “We don’t know what a baseball game’s going to look like here, we don’t know what a concert’s going to look like here. We can start to figure out what a normal Wednesday night looks like or a normal Friday night, but some of these things we’re going have to work through. We’ve got Master’s Week, and the Monday after Masters Week we have the first game.” Did you always want to do a restaurant and bar on top? Brittingham: “The truth is, when we were first talking to them [SRP Park], we thought it was going to be a single-story space that was going to be up here. We started looking at the plans, and it was actually two levels. The two personalities evolved as we were doing this. “It wasn’t like we had a concept for the up and a concept for the down. We kind of thought it was going to be one united space, and it is. It’s all Southbound. But up here feels a little different. It has a little bit different feel. We like them both equally, but they both turned out great.” Claussen: “You go downstairs, you feel like you’re in Southbound 2.0. The walls, the music décor, everything. It’s like Southbound in a glass box by the river. And then you come upstairs, and it’s still got that same vibe, but almost an industrial, modern feel. I think it turned it so

28 Buzz on Biz April 2019

Brian Brittingham and George Claussen, the owners of Southbound Smokehouse, say the new space by SRP Park in North Augusta has a cool riverfront vibe. Photo by Witt Wells

cool with the boat hanging from the ceiling. Upstairs I was really worried about ‘How are we going to get this to look like Southbound?’” Brittingham: “We’ve been so busy we haven’t been over (to the original Southbound) much. And we were finally over there last night on a good night with good music, and it felt good.” Claussen: “It’s two different crowds of people. Like you think you’re going to open something the magnitude of this, and you think, ‘Oh my god, we’re going to decapitate that.’ The people over there, they’re going to check this place out, of course, but the other location is still closer to where they live. We haven’t even opened the extension of Southbound.” How does the SweetWater partnership work? Brittingham: “They’ve been great. Initially there were talks of doing a brewery inside of here, but we looked at the footprint and how much room it was going to take, and how much maintenance, and all those things factored in. And so, we were going take up a lot of space, and at the same time, we’re going to be limited on production. Because even with the set-

up we had, it was only going to produce about 15 kegs about every two weeks. Once we get rolling and get into events and stuff, that’s not going to be enough. “We were meeting with the SweetWater guys, because they’ve never done any brewing under their brand name off premises like that. They said, ‘Look, we’re going make you a signature beer. We’ll make it (in Atlanta).’ “We’re starting with one, but they’re open to the suggestion of having multiple varieties for us, essentially. They’re doing a signature beer for us, exclusively for us. We worked with them on the beer, told them what we were looking for. We went out there and did some tastings. We had multiple beers that they brewed. “When you try it, you’ll see why we picked it. It’s a wheat ale with a hint of grapefruit. It’s a lighter beer so people can still be out here in the 100-degree heat and still want to drink multiple beers instead of having the one beer. Our mission was to sell a beer we could sell a lot of and that people would drink more of. You can day-drink these for sure. “We’re branded officially as SweetWater Taproom at Southbound Smoke-

house. Even our menu has the SweetWater logo on it. We’re looking at doing another mural or two, potentially inside or outside. There’s a lot of places that are kind of blank canvases still.” Claussen: “It’s really awesome to have a such a big company like SweetWater. This is the first time and right now currently the only other place that they’re brewing beer for exclusively.” What it’s like getting to be part of this development? It’s kind of like a smaller version of The Battery in Atlanta. Claussen: “That’s what it’s going to be.” Brittingham: “But on the river, which is way cooler. And then you have an amphitheater sitting here and a park, and they’re talking about having a splash fountain where the stage is, so if there’s not an event going on, there’s still a draw.” Claussen: “I mean, this is history for the next hundred years. ‘Oh, Project Jackson went over here.’ Well, Cyber Command went there. Both sides won. It worked out. Everybody’s here to work together, we’re here to help the GreenJackets out. We want everybody to work together. We’d have to work together for something of this magnitude to work.”

things to do

when off work


GREENJACKETS FANS ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE OF GAMES AT NEW SRP PARK By Gary Kauffman The first year of SRP Park in North Augusta is in the books, and it is a story of success. The Augusta GreenJackets, in their inaugural season in their new stadium, increased attendance by 48 percent over their final year in Lake Olmsted Stadium. The GreenJackets are the Single-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. “It was the biggest increase in all of minor league or major league baseball,” said Tom Denlinger, GreenJackets vice president. The team averaged around 3,500 fans on most weekdays and more than 4,000 on weekends. Denlinger attributed that to the “fan experience” of the new stadium. “What fans enjoyed most is that it was literally a three-hour experience, and you didn’t even have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it,” he said. Part of the experience is the layout of the stadium, with a concourse that allows fans to walk the entire circumference, providing unique views of the field. The TaxSlayer Terrace in right field offers two levels of viewing, of the field on one side and the Savannah River on the other. “I saw people walking the concourse two or three times during a game, talking with friends,” Denlinger said. The sights and smells of a day at the ballpark are also part of the fun, and the GreenJackets placed a food court or activity for fans every 50 to 75 feet. But there was also plenty for baseball purists to enjoy in the first season. The GreenJackets got off to a hot start and were one of the best teams in the league; in fact, the success of some players led to them being called up to higher levels. That tempered the team’s on-field success in the season’s second half. Fans also saw an increased number of home runs because the ball flies better in the new park. The players and coaches who re-

In 2018, the Augusta GreenJackets sold five times the amount of season tickets for SRP Park that they had in their old home at Lake Olmstead. The team has already surpassed that 2018 number for this season; the home opener is set for April 15. File photo

turned from the 2017 season also enjoyed the new field. “It’s night and day,” Denlinger said. “They love it. Their clubhouse may be nicer than some Major League clubhouses.” But SRP Park had always been billed as a venue for more than just baseball, and that has been true. The park, with its various suites and meeting rooms, has hosted galas, business training sessions, conferences and holiday parties. It has also been the starting point for several fundraising walks. This year, it will host Hootie and the Blowfish with Sheryl Crow during Masters Week, True North Church’s Easter service and the King of the Cage MMA event in May. High school and college baseball games are also on tap. The area surrounding SRP Park has also taken on a new look for 2019 with the completion of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, The Clubhouse apartments in left field and the Ironwood Apartments at Riverside Village. “It was built as a live-work-play area, and in 2019 we will have the work and live components,” Denlinger said. “This is going to be the place to be on the river.” Already, 2019 is shaping up to eclipse the team’s successful first year.

Last year, the GreenJackets sold five times the amount of season tickets that they had in the old stadium. They’ve already increased that number this season. New staff members — among them a former chef as food and beverage director and a new groundskeeper — are already making changes and improvements. One improvement is new grass in the area along the left field line that will allow parents to spread blankets and sit with their kids. The grass will also keep the kids from getting as dirty as they did last year in that area. The GreenJackets will host 10 fireworks shows, a drone show and a dueling pianos show this year. Denlinger said there is also a good slate of giveaways, including a bobblehead of the Giants’ No. 2 prospect, Heliot Ramos, who played for the GreenJackets last year. The team will also continue to tweak things with the video board, the Kids Zone and food cart locations. This year there will be a beverage bar in left field. Fans will also be able to take their pictures in front of a pair of mascot Auggie’s wings. “We’ll be able with the new staff to take the experience to the next level,” Denlinger said. “We keep adapting the stadium. I think fans will notice.”

Good pitching on tap for 2019 In the midst of everything going on at SRP Park, baseball fans will also be able to enjoy a good team on the field. At the time of this writing, the San Francisco Giants had not made final decisions on the GreenJackets’ roster, but from information he has received, Vice President Tom Denlinger expects the team to have some good pitching. “We’re supposed to be really good at the top of the rotation,” he said. The GreenJackets may also have some of the Giants’ good young bats on the team, although consistency is always an issue with young hitters. “It could be feast or famine,” Denlinger said. Carlos Valderrama takes over as manager of the club this season, and he’ll be joined by Jake Fox as hitting coach and Clay Rapada as pitching coach. All three had brief Major League careers. In 2018, the GreenJackets finished second, 2.5 games out of first place in the first half standings, and third overall, 9.5 games out, with a 67-70 record. – Gary Kauffman

April 2019 Buzz on Biz



Local brewery impresses with Cautionary Tale I recently had the honor of playing a young Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones Jr. at the Augusta Museum of History’s “Night at the Museum” benefit. It was an honor, a pleasure and an absolute blast to participate in the re-creation of a person so dear to our community and to the golfing world at large. So, to celebrate the event afterward (keeping in mind that I had a 7 a.m. flight to snowy St. Louis the next morning to re-engage in my eyeballscience nerd reality) I had a beer — a local beer — a beer from right here in my home of golf.

Cautionary Tale IPA

Riverwatch Brewery, downtown on Fifth Street, has really impressed me with this American Double IPA. It pours a copper gold with the expected head of a double IPA, which laces significantly as one sips — I do enjoy counting my sips like the rings of a tree trunk. The nose doesn’t overwhelm with alcohol like some double IPAs do, but the alcohol is present in the background for most of the experience until one swallows and breathes out (that’s when it came through for me, as a piggyback to the malts). I particularly enjoyed the blend of hops (which, of course, I’d better because I knowingly chose a double IPA).

Riverwatch doesn’t seem to get mixed up in this whole “how much hops can I cram into a bottle of beer” milieu. Its focus on keeping allegiance to a particular craft of beer while maintaining a sense of balance really shines through in Cautionary Tale. Try it with, I’m thinking, a pimiento cheese sandwich and a bag of chips — wink, wink. Ben Casella loves Augusta, but he especially loves it during the first full week of April. He extends a hearty Southern welcome to all those in town for the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship. Cheers!

Photo by Ben Casella

By Ben Casella

Netflix explores the world of winners and losers By Samantha Barksdale Is it just me, or has winter been exceedingly long? Even now, as I type, I’m wrapped in a blanket. Luckily, the first signs of spring are upon us. The grass is starting to green up, flowers are budding their first blooms, and my windshield has a sheer, yellow film covering it each morning. In the event you’ve missed nature’s signs, there’s one thing I’m sure everyone has noticed: Our city is gearing up for a little tournament. I don’t profess to know much about golf, nor do I care to. Quite frankly, I enjoy “watching” golf while I’m resting my eyes. I do know, however, that one cannot be successful without preparation, perseverance and patience. Even when one does possess these traits, success cannot be guaranteed. But there is something to be learned in every experience, even failure. This month’s reviews are dedicated to the learning that takes place after winning and losing.

‘Winning’ (2016)

What does it take to be a winner? This documentary answers that question by telling stories from the lives of five elite athletes. From the first time Edwin Moses ran around a track to Jack Nicklaus’ Masters Tournament win at the age of 46,

30 Buzz on Biz April 2019

The subjects of Netflix’s Losers show that failure can be even more rewarding than success — sometimes.

this film explores what it takes to be the best. As someone who only casually follows sports, I knew little about the athletes featured in this film. As such, I was engrossed in each of their stories from the first moment. From becoming paralyzed at the age of 8 and becoming a wheelchair tennis champion to being forced to wait eight years to defend one’s Olympic title due to a boycott, these athletes show that any adversity can be overcome.

‘Losers’ (2019)

As an educator, I spend my days telling kids to do their best. Does that mean

they’re always successful? Absolutely not. Sometimes our best just isn’t good enough. But there is a lot to be learned from failure, and Losers explores those lessons. The first episode of Losers focuses on the life of Michael Bentt. The son of an abusive father who forced him into boxing, he went on to win numerous titles as an amateur before turning professional. His professional career began in a humiliating way — he was knocked out in the first round. While he was able to make a comeback, he realized how unhappy he was and soon quit the business. Although his boxing career was not

as illustrious as many thought it should have been, Bentt has gone on to become a writer, actor and boxing coach in Los Angeles. His happiness was found in what some people consider failure. My favorite episode of Losers is “Lost in the Desert.” Mauro Prosperi is an Italian endurance runner who gained notoriety after he became lost in the desert during the Marathon des Sables. While the media spoke of him in the past tense, Prosperi was surviving on his own urine and on bat entrails. Rescued after nine days, he was planning his return to the race before he greeted his family. I realize that we aren’t all elite athletes. These days I struggle just to find time for basic physical maintenance. It’s times like this that I appreciate these inspirational stories even more. We’re all tired, we’re all busy and we’re all overwhelmed. But if it’s important, if you’re dedicated, you’ll do it. You might fall flat on your face, but trying is so much better than living with a “what if ” mentality. Samantha Barksdale, “Sam the Movie Chick,” is on a mission to find the best movies and TV shows for you to stream from Netflix. She loves good flicks, good food and good friends. Her eclectic tastes are sure to give readers a wide range of viewing choices.


Bogey’s Grille is up to par for quality food By Susan O’Keefe As the wife of a former professional golfer, I tend to associate bogeys with poor performances. But in the case of the recently opened grille in Evans, I had to reconsider. Bogey’s Grille on Evans to Locks Road is serving up quality performances, and true to its goal as stated on its website, is providing above par customer service, products and atmosphere. From a spacious booth, my colleague and I enjoyed the various golf photos and memorabilia adorning the walls. As Augusta prepares to host the golf world in April, we were curious to appraise the menu and were met with selections such as The Tee Offs, The Greens, The Clubhouse Fare and more. The menu was as inviting as the azaleas at Augusta National in the spring. Serving everything from burgers to chicken wraps to meatloaf and pork chops, there’s an opportunity to grab a quick bite and go or to sit and savor for a while. A couple of items caught my eye simply because of catchy names, such as the Pitching Wedge Salad, Birdie Wrap and Bogey Burger. The seared salmon topped with lemon butter sauce and served over rice pilaf with asparagus sounded scrumptious. However, the 9-ounce prime cut pork chop with mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable medley also whetted our appetites. We decided we would have to return for dinner in the near future for those items. We scanned the section titled “Clubhouse” and were enticed by the crispy salmon avocado BLT, the shrimp cake and the smoked pork grilled cheese. After a bit of discussion and pledges to share, we opted to order the burger, the seasonal signature salad and the BLT. I admit that I am a salad enthusiast and could not resist the description of local greens, gala apples, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, toasted sunflower kernels and a signature apple vinaigrette dressing. After she had promptly greeted us and delivered water, our competent and courteous server told us about the pasta and chicken special. She kindly answered our plethora of questions and allowed us to visit and soak in the surroundings of all things golf. As we were seated, we noticed a retired couple taking a booth with a view of the TV, eager to follow the latest birdies and

The sweet potato fries served up at Bogey’s Grille are a delightful departure from the typical restaurant French fry. Photo by Susan O’Keefe

Bogey’s Grille Rating is based on a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best).


If it’s a 19th hole golf fans are seeking or a casual business gathering, keep this bogey in mind. It’s the above par kind in a positive way.

Price Location Networking Noise Level Bogey’s Grille is at 3851 Evans to Locks Road. It is open 4 to 10 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed on Sunday. Reach it at 706-496-7703 or

highlights. A couple of businesspeople made their way to a corner table, perhaps to ensure privacy during discussions. There are booths, tables, a bar area and even an outdoor patio, which will be perfect most of the year in Augusta’s sunny climate. With adequate space for a confidential discussion as well as room to pull a few tables together and accommodate a larger party, Bogey’s is a welcome eatery

in Evans. Once our orders were delivered, we realized how famished we were and began devouring the food. It was the perfect combination of mixed greens, apples and bacon salad paired with the customblended Angus beef burger. The signature sweet potato fries were a twist on traditional fries. Seasonal mixed vegetables accompanied the seared salmon, avocado and bacon sandwich. Our servings were generous, and even after enjoying our fill, we had enough for a to-go box. Lunch items were priced in the $10-$15 range, which we found reasonable. If it’s a 19th hole golf fans are seeking or a casual business gathering, keep this bogey in mind. It’s the above par kind in a positive way. Located at 3851 Evans to Locks Road, Bogey’s Grille is locally owned. For more

information, give it a call at 706-4967703 or check out its website at www. Perhaps the next time my husband speaks of bogeys, it will involve a tasty meal for two at our new local establishment. Welcome to the CSRA, Bogey’s Grille. Susan O’Keefe has been reviewing restaurants for Buzz on Biz since August 2015. Her restaurant visits and reviews are done with a businessperson in mind.

Find other great places to grab a bite to eat across the CSRA at April 2019 Buzz on Biz


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