McDonald's in Lexington

A McDonald's is set to open soon across from Lexington High School, just one of several fast-food places to come to the area. Mike Fitts/Staff

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COLUMBIA — Where residential growth and high school students come together, retailers are sure to follow including fast food franchises, which are cropping up one after another in the vicinity of Lexington High School.

Along U.S. 1 west of Lexington, several new fast-food restaurants are under construction across from Lexington High and the Lexington Technical Center, the adjacent vocational education facility for Lexington District 1.

Just across the street, a McDonald's is under construction and expected to open in late January, according to Patrick Chambers, a commercial real estate broker for NAI Columbia. Next door to McDonald's will be a two-tenant building featuring a Starbucks and a Walgreens location, both of which are expected to open in the summer, Chambers said.

The stores are next to a shopping center anchored by Lowes Foods that opened in May 2017. That shopping center has its own set of fast-food places already in place with an Arby's, Jersey Mike Subs and a Little Caesars Pizza. 

Just to the west of the high school on U.S. 1, a Sonic Drive-In is complete and advertising for staff in preparation to open. 

Several new subdivisions also are being built in the area west of Lexington, continuing the fast residential growth of the county across the Congaree River from Columbia. Lexington County has added almost 75,000 residents since the year 2000, according to U.S. Census estimates, making it the state's sixth most populous county. 

This spurt of retail growth seems like all that the area west of the town of Lexington will get for now, Chambers said, but he expects the area to continue to see residential growth. Builders have been able to find good, affordable land west of the town, he said.

Another benefit for those moving to the area: Interstate 20 is being widened to three lanes across Lexington County. That will allow residents to more easily use I-20 to commute to downtown Columbia rather than getting caught in the town's traffic, Chambers said.

More drive-thru space for Chick-fil-A?

The frequently crowded Chick-fil-A in the Five Points district has told Columbia officials that it can help its traffic problems by adding a second order lane to its drive-through, according to an application the restaurant made with the city's Board of Zoning Appeals.

Under the plan for the restaurant at 901 Harden St., a second lane would be added to help with the placing of orders, then the two lanes would merge into one heading around the building to the pickup window.

The proposal for a zoning exception, which was slated to be considered at a Tuesday hearing, asserts that the added lane would help with the frequent problem of traffic backing up all the way around the building and out of the Chick-fil-A lot during peak business times. The plans for the restaurant also include a kitchen expansion, which should help reduce backups, according to the application.

Drive-through lanes have been controversial in Five Points before.

A plan to bring a Zaxby's restaurant, complete with drive-through, to the intersection at the heart of Five Points was controversial and eventually was abandoned amid opposition in February 2018. That restaurant location eventually became Home Team BBQ.

Craft and Draft hits Irmo

Craft and Draft, the craft beer retailer that has become a mainstay and favored hangout on Devine Street, has expanded to Irmo, opening a location about 7,000 square feet. The new location will have about 12 taps for craft beer along with dedicated taps for nitro beer, wine and cider. The larger location also has a back room where the owners plan to host live music and other events.

Chapin restaurant planned

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Henry Griffin, a chef/restaurateur/butcher who has been a force in such Columbia-area restaurants as The Kingsman and Rosso's Trattoria, is creating his own wood-fired pizza place called The Griffin in a new retail center in Chapin.

The restaurant will have space for about 70 inside and more on a seasonal patio. The menu will feature pizzas from wood-fired ovens and barbecue, with meat sourced from his butcher shop, The Royal Butcher in Lexington.

“Chapin is one of the fastest growing parts of the metropolis part of Columbia,” Griffin said. The restaurant is expect to open on July 17.

Opening and closings

World Market has announced it is closing its store at the Village at Sandhills on Jan. 25 and is liquidating its inventory. Other locations of the retailer of food, furniture and decorative items in the Midlands will remain open. 

Southwestern-style fast casual venue Diablo's Southwest Grill located at 460 Killian Road has closed. Another restaurant is expected to open in the same space soon, showing the high demand along that corridor for such eatery locations, according to Patrick Palmer of real estate company NAI Columbia.

The longtime location of Sub Station II sandwich shop at 736 Saint Andrews Road has closed. 

David Clarey and Tug Baker contributed to this report. 

Do you know of a retail business in the Midlands that is opening, closing or expanding? Reach Mike Fitts at

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