Opinion Columns & Blogs

Fort Mill's downtown is becoming a boom town

Southern Sugar is a new boutique bakery, espresso and wine bar on Fort Mill’s Main Street.
Southern Sugar is a new boutique bakery, espresso and wine bar on Fort Mill’s Main Street.

It was very refreshing to spend a recent evening in downtown Fort Mill of all places.

If you haven’t had the chance to get to the formerly sleepy Main Street, it is now a bustling hotbed of activity. While Local Dish and Hobo’s have increased traffic over the past few years, two newcomers, Amor Artis and Southern Sugar have really added an extra jolt. Amor Artis is a new craft brewery with an excellent atmosphere, a wide selection of wine and beer, and a rotating fleet of food trucks parking in the back.

Southern Sugar is a bit more complicated to describe. It is a mix between a bakery, café/coffeeshop, bar and restaurant. So many choices. If you want a quick pastry and mocha or come for weekend brunch or a glass of good wine, this is your place. Add in the Towne Tavern Express as a place to get wings and sandwiches and the soon-to-open Improper Pig for some tasty barbecue, and downtown is a destination to visit, shop, eat and drink.

When I look back at the years in the aftermath of Tony’s Pizza burning down in 2007, Main Street may have been at its lowest point. There was very little reason to go there, especially in the evenings. I think Hardee’s was literally the only business open past 6 p.m.! By 9 p.m. on that recent Saturday night, we had already had drinks and appetizers at Southern Sugar, stopped at Amor Artis for some Caribbean fare from a mobile eatery and some tasty beers. As we were leaving to go home, both Local Dish and Hobo’s had people still waiting to get a table.

The area has done a complete 180 degree turn from just a couple of years ago.

I wrote a column recently about often going to Charlotte for eating and activities, and that has been rapidly changing. There’s nothing better than supporting local places, and we are starting to have numerous options to be able to do that. With the weather finally rounding into form, staying outdoors is an option at many of the locations as you have patios, decks and lawns to take up a spot and enjoy the food, company and people watching.

Kudos need to be given to the business owners who have helped revitalize the area and the locations that have been there for years have persevered and are now also getting the benefits of more traffic. As a growing community, I look forward to more destination areas being developed in the coming years!

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