Despite Pandemic, New Business Ventures Popping Up In Albany

Carlton Fletcher The Albany Herald, Ga.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) While many businesses have shut down in the months since the pandemic started, there are several entrepreneurs in one Georgia city who are betting on their ideas and a bright future.

Albany

From the eastside to the westside, and in the heart of downtown, new businesses are springing up in Albany despite lingering concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

A ride around the city and a check of various social media sites show almost a dozen new businesses have opened in recent days or are planning to open soon in a community that was once one of the world's hot spots for the pandemic that all but brought national, state and local commerce to a standstill.

"I've watched so many businesses shut down in the months since the pandemic started, so it's amazing to see the true entrepreneur spirit of theses businessmen and -women who are opening up at a time when COVID is still with us," Albany City Commissioner B.J. Fletcher, herself a businesswoman, said as she talked about the city's business outlook. "Now is the time we have to support businesses like these, make sure that we help keep these businesses open. If we do that, when the pandemic is out of our lives, they will flourish."

Among the new businesses that opened recently or are planning to open soon are:

— The 7 Cherries Bakery, 1019 N. Westover Blvd., cakes and baked goods; — Cork N Bottle, Village Green Square, spirits and cigars; — King Corn, 204 Pine Ave., candy, popcorn, snacks; — Temp Coffee & Brew, 1900 Weymouth Drive, coffee, drinks; — Cod & Tail, east Albany, seafood and chicken restaurant; — DJ's Oasis Car Wash (expansion), 2535 Stuart Ave., automated car wash; — Pretoria Fields Collective Tap Room II, Walker-Ducker Road, craft brews, events; — Pretoria Fields Brewery (expansion), adding a still to make distilled spirits; — Broken Heart Bakery, to be located on West Broad Avenue; — Colony Bank (new location), corner of Old Dawson Road & Pointe North Boulevard; — Unnamed washeteria, under construction on North Slappey Boulevard.

When Gwendolyne Stock's husband came to Albany as a part of the city government, she and sister Alba Alfisi, natives of Venezuela, brought more than a couple of decade's worth of combined baking experience to the Good Life City.

The sisters recently opened The 7 Cherries Bakery and now offer baked goods that bring an international flavor to southwest Georgia.

"Most of the recipes we got from our moms, our grandmoms, and from other women in our country," Alfisi said. "We also both went to bakery school, learned recipes there. Our recipes include some traditional baked goods, but we offer snacks from all around the world. (Gwendolyne Stock) is very creative; she makes beautiful cakes and tarts.

"We are versatile. We have many breads and treats that are native to our country."

Alfisi said she and Stock, who came to America five years ago, have had no trouble "blending" with American culture.

"There will always be a bit of homesickness for the people we love, and it can be difficult at times to adjust to the language, customs and traditions of a new country," Alfisi said. "But we have been welcomed with open arms. We love the weather here and the people."

Ankit (Andy) Patel said few of the stores that sell spirits in the region can match Cork N Bottle's assortment of drink options, and none can match the walk-in humidor that houses the store's cigar selection.

"Many people say they have a humidor, when it reality it is just a cabinet," Patel, the owner of the establishment that is part of developer Dave Patel's multimillion-dollar Village Green Square reboot, said. "Here, for cigar smokers, there is an experience. The humidor keeps the tobacco moist; you don't have the cigars drying out like in other places. And we have a wide range of cigars; some of the top-line ones that get better with aging."

In addition to the variety of products offered in Cork N Bottle, Ankit Patel said the business is designed so that shopping there is an experience. "It's laid out so that you can easily find something specific you might be looking for, but customers will also have the opportunity to see and perhaps try other spirits that they have only heard of," he said. "We're going to have the biggest selection of anyone around, and our prices will match or better the lowest prices anyone else offers."

Lam Cheng, the principal of High Point Construction Co. in Atlanta, said his company had completed work on the Cod & Tail restaurant and that the establishment will open soon.

"The owners are going through that process with the city and the health department, getting all the inspections and requirements done," he said.

"You should be hearing of that restaurant opening soon. And we have another project (a tea room) in Albany that's going through the process of getting all the permits, so we'll be back down there working soon."

Pretoria Fields principle Dr. Tripp Morgan announced plans recently to add a second tap room on land the collective owns on Walker-Ducker Road in southwest Albany at a location that will host concerts and other events and provide agritourism opportunities. The collective also will distill spirits for sale and consumption at the 120 Pine Ave. brewery.

"We felt both of these plans fit in well with what we're doing in the collective," Morgan said. "They're in keeping with the spirit of sustainability."

Construction workers on Slappey Boulevard confirmed Friday that the work they were performing on a building along the busy thoroughfare was for a washeteria that is expected to open shortly. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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