LIBERTY, S.C. – The city of Liberty has all the makings of a classic Hallmark film. It’s a sentimental, sweet, and safe small town with a feast of traditions where everything feels familiar.
Only this isn’t a tale about how the heroine who returns home falls in love and just so happens to save the town. This is a story about opportunity and some of the people behind revitalizing and enhancing the quality of life in Liberty.
Hops & Harvest, a new dog-friendly social pub at 16 S. Commerce St., is expected to open in September, according to owner, Donna R. Garrick. A Realtor with Modern Real Estate Consultants, Garrick is not only opening the new family-friendly business, but she has moved to Liberty. When she was a child, her mother operated a restaurant in Liberty. In fact, her mother received the first beer and wine license in the city.
The newly renovated 2,400-square-foot dog bar features a large, beautiful concrete bar top, 10 brew taps, various wines by the glass, and cheese and charcuterie boards. With a classic arcade room and walls lined with 10 big screen televisions, Hops & Harvest is a trailblazing concept customers and their best friends are sure to “BARk” about.
“I’m a die-hard college football fan, and I truly want this to be a place where it is like walking into your living room with friends,” she said. “I think it’s really a good time to ‘get in’ (to invest in downtown). I really think there’s potential for good growth here in Liberty.”
Garrick, who travels everywhere with Hobie, her Australian Shepherd, said the city is full of young dog lovers. The median age is 38, and there are three to four dog groomers inside the city limits.
“In Liberty, there are close to 4,000 people,” she said. “With all the housing coming online, there’s a huge population to serve.”
At 50 W. Front St. on the corner with Commerce Street, the former Nino’s Greek and Italian Restaurant is undergoing major renovations for the future home of El Charro Mexican-Grill’s second location.
“It’s a beautiful 3,800-square-foot restaurant,” said Cesar Bautista, a partner in El Charro Mexican-Grill. “I like to see old stuff and bring it back to life – whether that’s bringing it back to the original or making it better.”
Earlier this year, El Charro Mexican-Grill opened its first family-owned location in Westminster, S.C., where within its first month the restaurant turned a profit. Bautista said small towns like Liberty are prime for new restaurant concepts. Offering traditional Mexican cuisine with a mix of favorite Tex-Mex dishes – including high quality steaks – El Charro Mexican-Grill offers quality ingredients and top food presentation and plating techniques with an emphasis on cleanliness and exceptional service.
The restaurant is expected to open in January 2023.
“There is a lack of restaurants in Liberty, which means there is tremendous opportunity here,” Bautista said. “I realized it was the right move when I spoke to the fire chief, the mayor, and many others. This is a community that’s coming together.”
Two years ago, the community conducted surveys, interviews, and focus groups to craft a strategic vision for the city of Liberty. Revitalizing downtown became a priority, which included a renewed interest in festivals and the arts, enforcing actions concerning abandoned buildings, and altering ordinances to make Liberty more business friendly.
“I appreciate anyone who is coming into Liberty and investing here, whether they’re purchasing buildings or starting a business,” said Mayor Erica Romo Woods. “It’s just wonderful – kind of like a Hallmark movie. We want to revitalize our downtown and keep our small-town charm.”
Woods says Liberty values and supports small businesses owners, such as Debbie Chapman, who operates Solid Grounds. The small boutique shop outgrew its space, moved across the street, and renovated the building at 141 W. Front St. so it can serve coffee and pastries.
“They totally transformed their space,” Woods said of the rustic and vintage-inspired Solid Grounds. “These are the types of businesses we are seeking where details are important to them, and they bring a spirit of excellence.”
The former Veterans Service Station – known for its stonework and unusual roof line at 404 E. Main St.– had remained vacant for years. Earlier this year, Easley-based Jack’s Parlour, a high-end barbershop, opened a second location in the bottom floor. The top floor is being used as office space.
Adding to Liberty’s “Hallmark story,” are its community events, including the Love My Liberty July 4th Celebration, and its Christmas Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade. The city is planning more family-friendly activities, including ways to celebrate the arts.
“These have turned out to be wonderful experiences,” Woods added. “What we are working on here in Liberty is something truly unique and something the community is really excited about.”
For businesses looking to move to Liberty, there is currently more than 10,000 square feet of space available. Quarter Investments Inc., a local real estate investment firm, recently announced the availability of 25. S. Commerce St. The former Tony’s Pizza & Subs location offers more than 1,900 square feet and is ready for its next tenant.
Established in 2013, Quarter Investments is a locally owned and operated asset management firm. Specialized in the revitalization of residential and commercial real estate, the company has owned, developed, acquired, and managed real estate assets throughout South Carolina. For more information, call (864) 230-1923.
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