Build your own mac and cheese restaurant coming to Augusta

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A new restaurant plans to open at The Village at Riverwatch in Augusta that is all about mac and cheese.

I Heart Mac & Cheese is a build-your-own mac and cheese franchise that started about 2 years ago. They have locations in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Illinois and New York. Recently, the first Georgia location opened in Athens. The Augusta spot will be the second I Heart Mac & Cheese for the Peach State.

So what is it? Think Chipotle or Your Pie, but instead of TexMex or Pizza, its mac and cheese. Elbow noodles and cheese are the base and then you chose what to add on.

You were probably already interested simply because you love mac and cheese (vegans don’t tune out just yet). However, the story behind the Augusta branch of the franchise is bigger than everyone’s favorite side dish becoming the main course.

Brandie Taylor is opening Augusta’s first I Heart Mac & Cheese. She is a veteran, a mother and now an entrepreneur. She shares a story to which many of you in this military town can relate. She finished with the Army and though–“well, what now?”

Now, she is using the skills she learned while serving our country in the business world.

“I wanted to bring something new and fresh to this area,” Taylor says.

She talks about some of the dishes they will serve once they are open, hopefully later this year.

“We have a lobster mac and cheese with truffle oil,” Taylor sasy. How fancy is that?! It just elevates something that used to be such a child dish and makes it ok for us to have as a full meal,”

On the menu there will be some options already built out. You will also have the option to build your own. Taylor says there are healthy options and options for vegan eaters.

“You can customize it however you want so if you’re on some kind of low carb diet or something like that, you can chose a different base,” Taylor says.

Taylor would like to open multiple locations and plans to grow within the Augusta area. She says the city’s recent growth inspired her to stay.

“I started to kind of feel like maybe I do belong here. Maybe I can start a business here because I had been looking for options to start a business somewhere else,” Taylor says.

Taylor was a medic in the army and says when she finished her service, the jobs she was qualified to do did not pay what she made as a soldier. She used the skills she learned while in the Army to reinvent herself.

“I wanted to focus on my strengths. I noticed that I have good leadership skills and things like that so I wanted to kind of go to the business side of things,” Taylor explains.

Taylor is a veteran, a mother and a woman of color. Historically the person who falls in those categories has been underrepresented in business ownership, but that is changing.

“I just hope that I can make a lot of other veteran women of color follow in my footsteps and go out and do something new and do whatever they dream,” Taylor says. “I think we live in a year where we can do anything we want to do.”

They hope to open the Augusta I Heart Mac & Cheese in the spring or summer of 2020. Taylor says they will start hiring about 3 months before the opening date.

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