Hyatt Celebrates its Downtown Florence Grand Opening with Ribbon Cutting

by Ardie Arvidson

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce welcomed Hyatt Place Downtown Florence as a member of the chamber with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday afternoon that included the grand opening of the newest hotel in downtown Florence. The event included music by Prettier than Matt.

The five-story, 103-room Hyatt Place was the 333rd Hyatt Place to open, said Ron Glancy, senior vice president of operations for Rains Hospitality. It opened its doors in February.

Owned by East Evans Hospitality LLC, the hotel is managed by Raines Hospitality, which manages several hotels in South Carolina and Florence. The property was developed by Springbridge Development. The hotel represents approximately $20 million investment in downtown.

Glancy said this is Raines’ third hotel to open since July.

“We are opening a lot of new hotels,” he said. “It is our first partnership with Hyatt Place.”

He said Hyatt Place was great to work with and it gave Raines Hospitality a tremendous amount of support.

“This is not our last Hyatt Place,” he said. The company will be opening one in mid-May in Mt. Pleasant and looks to have others.

Glancy said the hotel is situated on what was once part of Evans Street. He said the street was straightened for the hotel.

He said the view view of downtown from the upper hotel rooms is amazing.

“It is an urban oasis in downtown Florence,” Glancy said. “It is a fun and exciting addition to the community. We are so happy with the finished product.”

The hotel offers a casual atmosphere with amenities such as free Wi-Fi and 24-hour food offerings in the Gallery Kitchen. Guests can also access the Gallery menu 24/7. A coffee bar is available day and night, and the cocktail bar is open late.

The hotel offers meeting spaces for guests and the community, a 24-hour gym, and an outdoor pool.

Guests staying at Hyatt Place Florence Downtown can enjoy the close proximity of the hotel to the arts and entertainment district downtown, Guests can also enjoy shopping within walking distance of the hotel.

Faith Rogers is general manager.

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Notch 8 Catering Company Holds Ribbon Cutting at Florence Chamber

by Ardie Arvidson

Notch 8 catering company held a ribbon cutting at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce office on Tuesday with chamber ambassadors participating.

An off-site catering company, Notch 8 does everything from cookouts to caviar, said one of its chefs.

Shaina E. Bazen, marketing and sales director for Notch 8, said the business can do everything from a pig pickin’ to an oyster roast and every event from a wedding to a corporate lunch.

Notch 8 is a budget-minded catering company with a menu to match, whether it is muffins by the dozen, a full-service dinner with linens and servers or a picnic.

“We provide quick, easy and price-efficient menus,” Bazen said.

Bazen said the menus are flexible. She said Notch 8 can drop off boxed lunches, come back and clean up later or stay the entire time.

“I have really enjoyed the process of creating the menu, watching it start from something very small and blossoming into something amazing,” she said.

“One thing that excites us is how different and creative our menu is,’ she said. “We have taken the norm and tried to put a new, modern spin on it.”

She said that was also one of the biggest challenges, trying to make a menu that was different and putting a new twist on what was already out there.

Another thing she has enjoyed in the start-up process has been designing the boxes the boxed lunches come in.

Notch 8 is a railroad term for full throttle and many of the boxed lunches have railroad-themed names such as the All Aboard, High Liner, and Full Throttle.

To learn more about Notch 8 Catering, visit or call 843-507-9919.

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Texas Roadhouse Joins Florence Restaurant Scene

by Ardie Arvidson

A ribbon cutting for the new Texas Roadhouse was held at noon Monday with the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and its ambassadors participating along with restaurant staff and management.

The restaurant officially opened for business at 4 p.m. Monday. It is located in front of Magnolia Mall at 2691 David H. McLeod Blvd., next to IHOP.

Texas Roadhouse is famous for its hand-cut steaks, fall-off-the-bone ribs, fresh-baked bread and made-from-scratch sides.

The atmosphere is lively and family-friendly. The wait staff is known to break out in a line dance without any notice. It makes a special deal of birthdays, too.

Florence’s community-themed western décor includes items representing the Darlington Raceway, first responders, local schools, a jukebox and more.

As does every other Texas Roadhouse, the new Florence restaurant has a painting of an American Indian, said Jackie Brown, LSM coach.

The Indian is a trademark, she said, and was started by Wayne Kent Taylor, founder and owner of the first Texas Roadhouse in Clarksville, Indiana.

She said one mural she is especially proud of is the one that features a local first responder taken from a photo.

Brown said the company is built on partnerships with the communities where they reside.

On Friday and Sunday, the restaurant was open by invitation-only to give their staff practice and to raise funds for two local charities, I Play Florence (Friday) and the Care House of the Pee Dee (Sunday). Money was raised through individual donations and drink orders during the evening.

On Friday night, the guests raised $1,988 for I Play Florence. And on Sunday, guests raised $2,802 for Care House of the Pee Dee.

Both organizations were represented at the ribbon cutting on Monday and were presented ceremonial checks. They presented plaques to the Texas Roadhouse in appreciation.

Managing partner Andrew Ivester said he is very excited to be in Florence, and he wants to have a successful partnership with the community.

“We are excited to partner with these amazing organizations and can’t imagine a more meaningful way to celebrate our opening,” he said.

“I am thrilled to be here.”

Larry DePasquale, a market partner with restaurants in South Carolina and parts of Georgian and North Carolina, said he has 11 stores and has been patiently waiting for a long time for the right spot to open up in Florence.

“When this property (on David H. McLeod Blvd.) came available, we grabbed it,” he said. “We love the people here. They have been very welcoming. I have met a lot of people in the short time we have been here.”

He said Texas Roadhouse is involved in the communities where they are located.

He said they have a full-time employee dedicated just to working with the community.

The Texas Roadhouse was started in 1993 in Indiana. The restaurant chain has more than 525 locations in 49 states and seven countries. Its headquarters is in Louisville, Kentucky.

Texas Roadhouse brings nearly 200 new jobs to Florence. The restaurant has a seating capacity of approximately 300.

Texas Roadhouse is only open for dinner during the week. The restaurant is open for lunch on the weekends.

Florence hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 843-536-4507.

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Carolina Havoc and Florence Chamber Celebrate Season Opener with a Ribbon Cutting

Carolina Havoc celebrated their season opener this past Friday, March 15, with a ribbon cutting to signify their membership with the Florence Chamber.

Carolina Bank Holds Ribbon Cutting for New Headquarters in Florence

by Ardie Arvidson

Carolina Bank held the grand opening and ribbon cutting on Thursday for its new headquarters in downtown Florence. It was nearly two years in the making. The bank is at 185. W. Evans St.

A soft opening was held in December 2018 for the 19,200-square-foot building, which cost an estimated $4.5 million. It hosts the bank’s 15th branch location in addition to its new headquarters.

“We are very pleased with the results,” said Vera Herbert, vice president and a fourth-generation member of the Beasley family, founders of the family-owned bank more than 80 years ago in Lamar. “It was a lot of work to get to this point.”

Renovations were started in June 2017.

Adding a third story to the two-story building is what took so long in the renovation process, Herbert said.

Herbert said that in the early 1900s the building was three stories. She said it is believed that the third floor burned and was never replaced.

When Carolina Bank purchased the building it was only two stories and housed the Art Trail gallery.

“In order to house our operations, we needed a third floor,” Herbert said.

The bank tried to go back as much as possible to the original look from the turn of the century.

The first floor houses the new branch operations and the wealth management services. The second floor includes operations such as loan and deposit operations, as well as information technology. Located on the third floor are the executive offices and the audit department.

“A lot of our coming here had to do with the growth in Florence,” Herbert said.

She said the bank wanted to be a part of that growth and to be more accessible to many of its customers.

The bank has helped finance projects downtown and looks forward to being a part of the growth in the downtown district.

Bank President Rick Beasley said at the ribbon cutting that his grandfather had a vision in 1936 and opened a small bank in Lamar. His son opened one in Darlington and from there it has grown. And now they have moved their headquarters to Florence.

“This is just the start of what is going to happen in Florence,” Mayor Pro Tem Frank J. “Buddy” Brand II told Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, business leaders, bank personnel and friends gathered in front of the bank for the ribbon cutting. “Florence is on the move.”

He welcomed Carolina Bank to Florence’s downtown as part of the city’s growth.

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Florence Chamber Hosts Ribbon Cutting for Event Planner

by Ardie Arvidson

Jamey Kirby, owner of The Last Detail Wedding and Event Planning, joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to celebrate her new chamber status with a ribbon cutting at the chamber office.

Born and raised in Myrtle Beach, Kirby has been in Florence for approximately three years. She said her business started out as a hobby and was part time but has grown into a full-time business.

She specializes in weddings, birthday parties, holiday events, bridal showers, baby showers, corporate events, engagement celebrations, dinner parties and other events.

She said she has different levels of packages available to fit most everyone’s budget, from partial to full service planning, including catering and bar service.

“I understand that brides are on tight budget, and I will work with them,” she said, “to make their day special within their budget.”

She said the most popular wedding venues with her clients are outdoor locations that are rustic, in fields and barns, in the country.

She said she is in the process of building or acquiring a venue for her business.

She said she joined the chamber to get recognized in the Florence area. She travels from North Carolina and South Carolina to Tennessee to plan events.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time to join the chamber,” she said. It’s finally came together, she said. Kirby is looking forward to working with the chamber.

She currently works from home and is also the director of marketing for S.C. Troopers Association.

For more information contact Kirby at 843-385-3840 or

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Carolina’s Electronic Repair Service Joins Chamber

by Ardie Arvidson

Carolina’s Electronic Repair service joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to celebrate its new chamber membership with a ribbon cutting at the chamber office.

Brandon Summers and his sister, Mary Summers, opened the electronic repair service on the first day of January this year.

They repair laptops, tablets and cellphone, including cracked screens, water damage, and other technical problems.

“I learned the trade from working with others,” said Brandon.

He said they can fix most anything with a microchip.

Mary said she is certified in computer repair work and also works on software.

She has worked at several electronic repair shops.

“I can fix most anything,” she said. “I love to repair devices. It is interesting to me. When you love it you are good at it. It is not just a job, which is what separates us from other repair shops.”

Brandon said it is her passion.

Both said they thought joining the chamber was a great business opportunity and would help them build their brand.

They are originally from Florence.

Brandon recently moved back to his hometown from Irmo.

Their hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mary’s office is at 612 S. Irby St. Suite B. She can be reached at 843-472-6625.

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SPC Credit Union Opens New Facility in Florence

by Ardie Arvidson

SPC Credit Union of Hartsville held a ribbon cutting at its new facility in Florence at 1312 Celebration Blvd. on Thursday.

Checks were presented to West Florence High School, Wilson High School and South Florence High School and the McLeod Foundation as part of the celebration.

SPC operates in Darlington, Florence and Marlboro counties.

“We are so excited to be here,” said Linda H. Weatherford, president and CEO of SPC, “and to bring a new approach with a hometown, local feel.”

“We have been in banking for almost 80 years,” said Weatherford. “We are rooted in history but embracing our future.”

She said the newest facility and its services represent a good collaboration of the two.

Weatherford said this branch has an open retail space concept, which is new for the credit union. There are no teller lines and no drive-through window, she said.

This branch is connected by a video center to the main office in Hartsville where customers have access to all of the services and can have one-on-one conversations. The credit union also has a computer station where associates can help customers set up all of the online needs.

Florence employees are all universal sales associates, Weatherford said.

Jenny Morrell, vice president of branch operations, said they took elements from the main office and a branch office and incorporated them in the design of the Florence building. The fireplace and portico are also found in main office, which was originally the Arcade Hotel, built in 1913.

The exterior brick is similar to that of the branch in Bennettsville, she said.

The artwork is local and depicts local businesses and people. Written on one wall are three key words that depict their focus on compassion, connections and community.

To show support for the community, SPC presented a check for $25,000 to the McLeod Foundation and $500 checks to each of the three high schools.

The schools will also receive $1 from customers’ $10 purchase of debit cards depicting th credit union’s logo and colors, said Sabre Knight of the Florence office.

SPC Credit Union was organized in 1941 by Sonoco Products Company, Weatherford said.

In 2004, SPC expanded its charter to include anyone living or working in Darlington, Florence or Marlboro counties.

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Tarr Group Holds Ribbon Cutting at Florence Chamber

by Ardie Arvidson

Kevin Pulis of the Tarr Group LLC joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to celebrate the group’s new chamber membership. A ribbon cutting was held at the chamber.

Pulis, a civil engineer who grew up in Florence and recently moved back, said he joined the chamber because he wants to be a part of the community now that he is back.

Pulis said he is eager to get back into the community and work with the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

“I want to help it (Florence) grow and prosper,” he said.

He said Florence is becoming a very impressive place, especially the downtown.

Pulis is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in civil engineering and has 14 years of experience in civil engineering. He recently joined the Tarr Group.

The Tarr Group is a national civil engineering consulting firm with offices in Portland, Oregon; Denver; Indianapolis; and Florence.

Pulis said it is a consulting firm with experience in commercial, industrial and residential services. He said the group does site work from start to finish.

To contact Pulis, call 843-633-3579.

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Allstate-Hardee Insurance Agency Holds Ribbon Cutting After Joining Florence Chamber

by Matthew Robertson

FLORENCE, S.C. — The Hardee Agency had a ribbon cutting Thursday to mark both its joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and its change in ownership as of Jan. 1.

Formerly Ben Stevens Allstate, the agency is now owned by Brandon Hardee and has remained with Allstate.

Hardee bought the agency from his father-in-law on Jan. 1 when he retired.

“My family’s been in insurance. My dad’s been in insurance for 30-plus years,” said Hardee, who has been in insurance since 2012.

The Hardee Agency is a full-service office that offers personalized insurance, home, auto, life, counsels on retirement needs and offers some commercial coverage products, Hardee said.
“This business has been in this location for 25 years,” Hardee said. “I’m excited to continue that legacy he started so many years ago.”

The Hardee Agency is at 1600 Second Loop Road in Florence. It can be reached at 843-665-4496. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

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