Wanted in Columbia: Jillian's closes and Famous Toastery

Jillian's closes. Longstanding Columbia bar and restaurant Jillian's is closed. The owners blamed the closing on lost revenue from the floods, but honestly, increased competition is probably more likely to blame. A vacant Jillian's is a massive space in the Vista that is now open to redevelopment. Cola Daily reports "something" is already in the works to replace it.

Famous Toastery. Columbia could always use more breakfast/brunch spots. And one is on the way for Assembly Street. Famous Toastery is slated to take over a section of the old Moe Levy's.

Wanted in Columbia: Brookland, Finlay Park, Arcade Mall, Fresh Market

Brookland approved. Not surprising, but the Brookland development in West Columbia was approved last week. Should be a nice development for that side of the river. Now only if they can move the chicken plant.

Finlay Park renovation. Columbia City Council is considering a much needed renovation to Finlay Park. Will be interesting to see if Columbia can find the money to build a flagship park.

Renovation of the Arcade Mall. I discovered this gem walking at lunch on Main Street a few years ago. Excited to see it restored and renovated.

Fresh Market coming to Lexington. The mystery grocery store in Lexington is a Fresh Market. A nice addition to 378.

Wanted in Columbia: Office Space, Brookland and Blaze

The State has an interesting article on the office space market in Columbia. I talk to folks all the time who don’t understand how the city can support all the new construction. The reality is that the Columbia area — and especially downtown Columbia — is growing and expanding and demand is strong.

The battle continues in West Columbia about the Brookland development, but with 400 parking spaces, I assume this will win council approval. The Chamber of Commerce has expressed their approval of the project.

Blaze Pizza is opening at Harbison in a few weeks. And as I’ve mentioned before, Del Taco is under construction at Harbison and will be the first in the state.

I'll be rebranding and changing up Wanted in Columbia soon. Look for more details coming soon.

Wanted in Columbia: Forest Acres, Brookland, War Mouth

Despite some community resistance, the planning commission in Forest Acres has approved the Cardinal Newman redevelopment plan. It now moves to a council vote. And in West Columbia, the Brookland development is facing opposition to the density of the project. In both cases is that increased traffic is the biggest concern.

And I’m hearing good things about The War Mouth in Cottontown. More independent restaurants is always a good thing. Can’t wait to try it out. And I hope the momentum continues from downtown over Elmwood and up North Main Street.

Still trying to figure out what the next step for my retail blog will be, but until I figure that out, I’ll be posting here on Mondays...

Bedtime story: E-mergency

Tonight's bedtime story choice, E-mergency, was from my middle child, who quite likes this silly story about what happens when the letter E gets hurt. I fully admit that I love the book as well, as I am completely a sucker for puns. E-mergency is full of delightful puns and jokes, many that go completely over the kids head... My daughter doesn't have to twist my arm to read this one.

Wanted in Columbia: BullStreet, Free Times and Forest Acres

I was traveling last week, but there was a fair amount of retail news.

The State reports that 85 storefronts will be built at the Commons at BullStreet*, opening in the second half of 2016. Still no details on tenants.

The Free Time has a Volume 3 of their “What Columbia Needs” list. A couple of good ones, including a downtown multiplex and downtown small boat landing with parking.

And finally, there is opposition to the development at the old Cardinal Newman school in Forest Acres. I guess, I shouldn’t be surprised, but whatever goes there is going to generate traffic.  I’m not really sure what opponents to the project are expecting… that the property will just sit there unoccupied. Unlikely in such a hot retail corridor. (And yes, I understand that traffic is bad. That’s why companies will want to locate there, because there are potential customers driving by…)

I mentioned in my post on my publishing schedule that I'm thinking about renaming Wanted in Columbia and finding it a new home. Still researching options, but until then, I'll continue to post on Mondays here.

* I hate it when corporations slam words together for unknown reasons. I think they are trying to be edgy by going with "BullStreet" as one word, but it just looks like a typo.




As Advent comes to a close, I’m still working on my Advent Resolution of preparing for 2016. In fact, last Friday, in the post-Star Wars euphoria, I took a day off and sat down to put in writing all the ideas and plans that I’d been working on. 

I quickly became completely overwhelmed.

I started by grouping my goals into four categories… fitness, family, professional and household. And then started trying to figure out how to make all these things happen. But the list of things I want to change are long and two things happened:

  1. I got discouraged: How am I ever going to do all these things next year?
  2. I got depressed: I have to change all these things to feel like I’ve accomplished anything.

And planning and preparation came to an abrupt halt. Friday night though, I came to a conclusion: I really love my life and I don’t have to change anything. But I want to be healthier, more organized and more connected to my family. I can’t make all these things happen at one time. They have to happen gradually as part of a lifestyle change.

I tackled my list with renewed energy. I tried to prioritize items as I grouped and I noticed a pattern: Every category had a foundation. 

For the fitness and health, the foundation goal is walking at lunch. When I walk at lunch, I eat better and feel better, and I’m more likely to work out more and log my food in Lose It. All my other goals start to fall in line if I make time to walk around downtown Columbia at lunch. 

For my family, it’s eating dinner at home as a family around the dinner table. With our busy schedules, it’s too easy to eat out. Things just run better when we eat at home and get all five of us around the dinner table.

For professional improvement, it’s the blog. When I’m posting regularly, I’m more creative and energetic. Writing about design and creativity typically sparks ideas and projects. 

And for household, it’s sitting down with my wife to plan the week, figuring out meals and schedules for the week ahead. Life’s a lot easier when we are on the same page.

As I started to structure my goals, it became clear that if I do those four things, lots of good things tend to follow. I’m going to add a few more things like using my phone less and some specific long term fitness goals. But I’m starting with my four foundation goals.

And I’ll build from there.

Wanted in Columbia: Mini

When I was first in the market for a car, many of the dealerships I visited were in one of two places: Two Notch Road in Northeast Columbia and Greystone Boulevard near the zoo.

Greystone still has a concentration of dealerships, but many of the Two Notch dealerships are moving to Killian Road off of I-77. The State has a story about the mass exodus.

Dealerships need a lot of land and really must be close to an interstate. They are moving out the interstates to less developed exits where land is more available and affordable. There is a Honda dealership in Lexington off of 378. Toyota on I-26 past Harbison. Chevy and Hyundai have dealerships at the Clemson Road exit at I-20. And of course, the explosions of dealerships at Killian Road at I-77.

In Columbia, we’ve got almost all the dealerships* that you would expect to find in a city our size with one exception: Mini**. 

2016 Mini Clubman

2016 Mini Clubman

Judging by the number of Minis*** that you see on the road, you’d think there was one in Columbia. But the closest dealerships are located in Charleston, Greenville and Charlotte.

Most Mini dealerships are connected to BMW dealers, and I think that is the problem. BMW of Columbia is located off of Two Notch in a pretty dated facility. I’ve assumed that at some point, that dealership will move and I’ve hoped that when they build a new complex, they’ll make room for a Mini dealership. I’ve long assumed that they will build out around the Killian Road area, but they aren’t mentioned among the dealerships planning to make the move from Two Notch to Killian Road. Until they move, Mini lovers will likely have to drive an hour or more for sales and service.

* I wouldn’t expect to see a Tesla dealership in Columbia anytime soon. But I’d love to see a Supercharger station.

** Mini is #5 on our Wanted in Columbia list.

*** I really like the new Mini Clubman. Might be a possible replacement for my Rabbit in a couple of years… unless I decide to go electric.

What I loved about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night and completely loved it. J.J. Abrams did an amazing job capturing the spirit of the original and building an awesome new environment for the future of the franchise. 

It's not a perfect movie, but it is amazingly fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. If you haven't seen it and are even remotely a Star Wars fan, go and see it.*

You can find spoiler-free reviews all over the internet. I'm not going to do a review or spoil any plot points, but I want to talk about the things I really loved in the new movie.

  • Rey. I have daughters. And I couldn't be happier that Rey is a strong, independent and awesome character in the Star Wars universe. The original trilogy didn't have any strong women outside of Leia. I can't wait to see what my daughters think of Rey.
  • Droids. BB-8 steals the show. Seriously great. And great moments from C-3PO and R2-D2, too. Funny and comical in the same way that they were in the original trilogy. Not obnoxious and slap-stick like the prequels.
  • Spoiler Free. I went into the movie completely spoiler free. I hadn't read reviews or online spoilers. I watched the trailers, but that was it. I didn't have any idea what was coming next. And it was perfect.
  • Mystery. Lots of mysteries are revealed, but even more are teased and not answered. Plenty to reveal in the next two movies.
  • Production Design. The movie looks incredible. It's a perfect visual extension of the original trilogy. The ships are great. The planets look amazing. And the whole thing looks like Star Wars.

I'm going to see it again tonight with my wife and will probably have more thoughts. But as a Star Wars fan, I'm happy. Thanks, J.J.

* And see it now, before the movie is spoiled for you. 


Last week, it was "Attack of the Comic Book Trailers." This week, the awesome trailers are about space.

First up, a trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence. Looks like a fun summer action movie that tries to recapture the spirit of the original.

And then, the trailer for Star Trek: Beyond was released. It's going to be shown with Star Wars, which makes sense since they are both J.J. Abrams reboots. It also looks great. I enjoyed the first two Star Trek reboots and this looks to extend that world.  As a designer, I love the look and the art direction.

And of course! Thursday! Star Wars! So excited!

Wanted in Columbia: Bull Street and Costco

As the Christmas season approaches, I don’t expect much retail news. But there is a little bit:

Bull Street. We’re still waiting for details on Bull Street, which were promised by the end of the year. The Free Times has a story on the development of the property.

Costco. I drove past Piney Grove road the other day and construction is starting on the new Costco.

Speeding along

Three candles.

Three candles.

Advent is speeding by and my preparations for the new year are moving forward. But I feel like I'm running out of time to prepare for 2016.

I tried this week to limit my phone use and honestly really struggled. I made a couple of simple changes that I hope will help. I turned off virtually all notifications to limit the “pull” of the phone. And I reordered my apps so that only the necessary apps — like banking, calendar and to-do list — are on the home page. Social media apps like Twitter and Facebook are now on page two so hopefully I won’t get sucked into other apps on my phone when I just need to check and appointment time.

This week, I’m going to think about health and fitness. My biggest challenge is our crazy family schedule. We eat out too much and don’t always make time to work out. I’ve got some ideas for how to plan a little better and work out more consistently. I’m hoping to hammer out details this week.

I bought a Fitbit Charge recently and I’m tracking my activity. I’m going to start using Lose It for food tracking again. Personally, I find that having those data points help me be healthier. 

Comic book trailer season

As we count down the days to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it looks like Marvel and DC are getting their summer blockbuster trailers ready for the surge in holiday movie goes. And they all look pretty impressive.

I've already posted about Captain America: Civil War. Looks incredible:

I wasn't excited about Batman v Superman... until the latest trailer. I haven't been super impressed with the DC cinematic universe. It's so dark. And I wasn't sure how this Batman v Superman plot would play out. Now I'm intrigued. Wonder Woman looks awesome. 

And now, Fox has dropped the trailer for X-Men Apocalypse. I really do like the last two X-Men movies. And considering that I grew up with X-Men as my favorite comic, I always want to love the X-Men movies. I'm cautiously optimistic.

U2 in Paris and on HBO

HBO had been teasing for months that they were going to air a U2 concert from Paris. That concert was postponed because of the terrorist attacks in Paris, but was rescheduled for December 7. HBO’s showing the concert now and it’s incredible. If you are a U2 fan (and you happen to have HBO) you should check it out. In many ways, the performance reminds me of U2’s Super Bowl halftime show after 9/11. Hopeful and inspiring.

You can see the playlist at U2gigs.com. And if you’ve ever been to a U2 concert, it’s fun to find the concert you attended and check out the playlist.* For example, I was in the seventh row for their concert in Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina

* How amazing is the internet that there is an online record of all of this…

Wanted in Columbia: Palmetto Compress, Brookland, street names and Muschamp

Palmetto Compress. The State had an article about the Palmetto Compress site’s conversion into apartments. It’s an interesting look into renovating a historic building that has been underutilized for decades. The most surprising part to me: They are cutting an atrium into the center of the building.

Brookland. Looks like development will begin soon on the “Brookland” development in West Columbia. Right now, it’s just a big gravel lot on a major road, overlooking the Congaree River. West Columbia’s development is interesting to me. There’s a lot to like about that side of the river. State Street is awesome. The riverfront draws visitors. And then there is the chicken plant. They really need to move the chicken plant.

Street Names: Bull Street has street names. Soon, hopefully, we’ll know the names of some businesses located on those streets.

Muschamp: Welcome to Columbia, coach. We don't have an Apple Store, but we've got pretty much everything else you need.

Stars on the beach: A moment of focus

Two candles.

Two candles.

My wife and I took a trip to Hilton Head a few weeks ago. We got to the resort late, but decided to take a stroll around and check it out anyway. We walked out to the beach. 

It was pitch black. 

A clear and moonless night. We could barely find our way down the path. (Hilton Head significantly restricts night lighting to protect sea turtles.) We stumbled down the path with our pitifully inadequate iPhone "flashlights."

We reached the beach and turned our flashlights off. Looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, the stars were brighter than I've ever seen in my life. Stunningly beautiful. It was remarkable how much more vibrant the stars were without the distraction of the light from the ground or moonlight.

But as beautiful as the stars were, you couldn’t do anything else but enjoy the night sky. You could hear the waves, but couldn’t see the water. It would have been very challenging to find our way back to the resort without our iPhone flashlights. We almost fell a couple of times looking for the path back.


As I reflect on my Advent Resolution, “focus” keeps coming up. How do I focus on the important things and cut back on the distractions? But it’s not as easy as that.

Just like on the beach. When you hit that moment of maximum focus… When you are completely locked in on the stars in front of you… You can’t easily do the other things in life that you need to do. 

So while I have goals and objectives for 2016, I’ve got to figure out how to focus without losing sight of the other important things in my life.

I need to figure out how to focus, while still maintaining balance. I think one of the easiest ways to find focus is to minimize the main cause of distraction in my life: My iPhone.

I’m going to experiment with a couple of different things this week:

  1. Changing how and when I use my phone. I’m going to try to minimize my phone use during the day in attempt to focus on the task at hand. That means that I’ll be on social media a lot less, which I also think is a good thing.
  2. Set time to handle emails and administrative tasks. I’m going to try and block some time in the morning, after lunch and at the end of the day for email. And ignore it for the rest of the day. My hope is that I’ll be more focused and effective at the task at hand. We’ll see how it goes. All notifications are off.
  3. No phone use when the kids are around. I want to have time to focus on spending time with them. No Twitter, no Facebook, no random games, no surfing. The only exceptions I’ll make is for things like entering food items into Lose It, taking a picture or adding something to the shopping list. I tried this the other night and it worked well, but I can’t tell you how many times I reached for the phone.

My hope is that these things will allow me to focus on the task in front of me and enjoy the moment of focus. I’ll try it this week and see if it's something I want to adopt for 2016.

I'm writing about my Advent Resolution. Read the background here.

I finally found a travel mug that I like

This summer, I got an electric kettle for my birthday and I’m really getting into making tea and french press coffee. I started grinding beans and making coffee in the morning. I love the smell and process of making french press coffee and can’t believe it took me this long to discover it. 

My newfound love of coffee at home had a limitation, though. I could never find a travel mug that I like. I always preferred the old school ceramic coffee mug and no travel mug felt like that.

I had a couple of stainless steel mugs, but I didn’t love them. I tried the Tervis tumbler style mugs, but I didn’t like them either. I was looking for a mug that was a little more substantial and didn’t have a plastic lid.

A few weeks ago, I was in Starbucks and noticed a ceramic travel mug. I hadn’t seen a mug quite like it and bought one. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was exactly what I was looking for so I bought a second one, too.

The Starbucks Double Wall Traveler is a fully ceramic travel mug. Even the lid is ceramic. The lid has a silicone seal to keep the coffee from spilling. It's heavier than most travel mugs and fits perfectly in my car cup holders. There's a little rubber circle on the bottom to keep it from sliding around.

There are tradeoffs. It only holds 12 oz. of coffee (but it looks bigger than that). You can’t microwave it and they recommend washing by hand. But none of those issues are a problem for me.

The designs that I bought aren’t available online right now, although the Navy one is similar to the first one I purchased. Starbucks seems to continuously add and retire designs. There are a couple of nice designs in the store right now that weren't available a couple of months ago.

If you are looking to give a gift this holiday season for a coffee-loving loved one, these mugs might be a cool gift.

Earlier this week, I failed.

At the very end of October, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, an “event” where you commit to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I started an account. I joined the local Facebook group. I was excited. I had an idea. I was ready to write.

In fact, I was going to write here about the experience of writing a novel.

As I started to read the advice from others, I realized that they had been planning for months. Working on outlines. Character concepts. They had a plan. I only had an idea. I was not ready to write.

No worries, I thought. I’ll rough together an outline quickly. Make some decisions about characters and I’ll catch up.

I never did.

This week marks the end of NaNoWriMo and I have virtually nothing written. My first attempt at NaNoWriMo* was a complete and total failure, although I have a sweet outline and a couple of (very bad) chapters. 

But this failure was one of the driving concepts behind The Advent Resolution. If you aren’t prepared to tackle big goals, they won’t happen. And if you never set aside time to prepare, you’ll never be comfortable setting those ambitious goals.

I’ve got a lot of goals and ideas for the next year. I'm too often guilty of trying to tackle them all at the same time. Right now, I’m trying to work out which projects I will tackle and which ones will stay on the shelf. 

So I’m committing this first week of Advent to thinking about focus. Wondering how to tackle these goals while still being a great dad and a husband. I’m reflecting on the influences in my life that strengthen and sustain me. I'm trying to remember how to focus in a multitasking world.

We’ll see where it leads me.

The Advent Resolution is simple: Prayerfully prepare for the coming year.

* I plan to try again. Next time, though, I'll actually be prepared.

Wanted in Columbia: New ballpark, Gold’s Gym and Del Taco

New ballpark. The Free-Times has a short update on Spirit Communications Park, the ballpark being built at the center of the Bull Street property. It seems to be coming along. I need to drive back in there and check it out. Still no word what will be surrounding it.

Gold’s Gym. Gold’s Gym is undergoing a name change, at least here in Columbia. The franchisee is switching from Gold’s to Müv. Kinda odd, but it sounds like it should pretty much remain the same. Driving through Lexington this weekend, they were in the process of taking down the old signage.

Del Taco. The old car wash on Harbison has been torn down and a Del Taco is under construction. Looks to be the first in the South Carolina. I've never eaten at one, but it looks like a Taco Bell.

Every Monday, I post a Wanted in Columbia update. See the most recent updates on the Wanted in Columbia page.

The Advent Resolution

One candle

One candle

I’m a big fan of the season of Advent — the time in the church year where we wait and prepare for Christ to come. I remember opening Advent calendars when I was young, counting down the days to Christmas. Advent is also the beginning of the church year – the liturgical New Year’s Day.

Last year, I got this idea to make my New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of Advent.* It’s the beginning of the church year so I figured I’d make some appropriate resolutions for the “new” year and get a jump on 2015. But my “Advent Resolution” didn’t seem right. Advent’s about preparing and waiting. Starting my “New Year’s Resolutions” on the first Sunday in Advent was just taking action a month earlier. I never got around to making any “Advent Resolutions” last year.

This year, Advent starts on November 29. And I’ve got a plan. I’m going to use the start of the church new year to prepare for the calendar new year. 

The Advent Resolution is simply this: Prayerfully prepare for the coming year.

I resolve to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider how to change the things I want to change in 2016. Then, take action on New Year’s Day.**

I’m not limiting this time of reflection to spiritual or religious changes. Everything is on the table. Diet, exercise, personal growth… pretty much anything. I’ll research and pray and think and write and plan. And when 2016 rolls around, I’ll be ready to act.

I’m excited to start my Advent journey. I’ll be writing about it and will post thoughts and reflections here. If you join me in making the Advent Resolution, let me know on Twitter at @sketchbookb.

* A quick Google search indicates that using Advent as “New Year” for religious resolutions has been done before…

** Advent ends on Christmas Day. So I suppose that I should start my New Year’s Resolutions on December 25. For various reasons, that would be difficult, so I’m starting January 1.