Downtown Augusta sees 40 new businesses during pandemic year

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – While some businesses closed during the pandemic, dozens opened. That was good news for downtown Augusta.

Whether it’s something to eat or a sweet treat, some businesses took a risk during a tough time and started a new venture.

Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard shared with NewsChannel 6, “We’ve got about a net gain on the Broad Street Corridor of 40 new businesses.”

Blink and it’s a Downtown Augusta you may not recognize. That’s because some new spots are calling the area home.

“We were ready to pull the trigger and open the doors and ride the wave of COVID re-openings,” Troy Adamo, Co-owner of Vance’s Bakery Bar told us.

While the CSRA and everywhere else battled its own coronavirus health weapon, Troy and Amy Adamo rolled out alcohol infused treats and drinks at Vance’s Bakery Bar.

Adamo added, “You’ll get things like margarita cupcakes that include tequila and Grand Marnier or bourbon chocolate chip cookies made with Second City’s bourbon from right here in Augusta.”

Nearby, the owner of Pineapple Ink Tavern took a chance too.

“We actually opened up on March 5th of last year and then literally within the week everything shut down,” said Owner Allan Soto, who said he offers high end bar foods and salads.

He also told us he chose downtown because of the boom that already started a few years ago.

Pineapple Ink Tavern

Woodard said it took everything slowing down for people to start up.

“I think some people had an opportunity during the pandemic or pre pandemic to kind of reimagine themselves, what do they want to in life,” she explained. “Maybe after that second or third Zoom call they said I don’t know that I want to stay in the corporate world.”

Additionally, Woodard said the DDA was hoping to hold steady during the pandemic with some closings and openings, but she said growth could be see in other parts of Georgia too.

New to the Garden City as well is Bike Bike Baby.

Bike Bike Baby

Owners Alvin and Cristina Watson hail from New Orleans where they say bicycle tours are popular. So, they chose to set up shop downtown adding, “It’s safe, provides outdoor fun, social distancing during these pandemic times, and it promotes health and exercise,” said the Watsons.

They added they also wanted to provide a type of normalcy, but it was personal too. Cristina Watson shared, “My husband was not working at the time and we needed to figure out another source of income. Although we had to spend money to make money, the pros outweighed the cons in doing so.”

One popular trend to launch a business is to get people to check out what you’re offering before opening a store.

“A lot of people are doing pop up stores. They’re partnering with existing retailers that are downtown and creating pop up stores to test the market,” Woodard said.

Amy Adamo, Co-owner of Vance’s Bakery Bar did just that.

Alvin and Cristina Watson, Bike Bike Baby Owners

“We had been doing popups for a really long time. So, we built a following on social media. We were pretty sure that those people would come see us.”

Woodard said there is a plan for those just testing the waters.

“We’re working with theses businesses to figure out what the next step is. Do we need incubator space? Do we need a commissary kitchen?”

Of course you can open up, but Woodard said even during a non-pandemic year, it’s survival of the fittest. And she said December is typically when you find out who closes.

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