Some of the opening day shoppers at Aldi in Bluffton seemed to be in a traffic jam in the produce section. LYNN WILTSE

Well, that month went quick. Welcome to the blink. 

I always feel like Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt tethered to the pipe in “Twister” during this stretch. It’s like the calendar saying, “You had your holiday breather, now here, take on these 98 projects and come up for air in May.” 

(As an aside, there is talk of a “Twister” sequel being made with Hunt and honoring the deceased Paxton. The movie made $500 million in 1996 dollars and they didn’t make five more of them. How refreshing. But I digress.)

There is much going on in our business bubble. Let’s discuss.

Main Street Village comings and goings: It is the long-time small business epicenter of the North End, but there isn’t typically a lot of business movement in Main Street Village. It is one of those rabbit hole gems, where you might be pulled in by the Harris Teeter but then end up browsing through the rows of shops for the afternoon. 

So, long-time shoppers might call this a seismic event in that corner of shoppers paradise, as one business has opened and two businesses closed. 

First, the departed. Gr8 Bites closed its doors in the center on New Years Eve after their lease was not renewed. 

Chef Greg Elmquist turned his experience at Chart House and Sigler’s into his own place when he and wife, Beth, took over the former Munchies in November 2022. Now, they have moved about 8,000 feet down William Hilton Parkway to Northridge Plaza, where they have taken over a space formerly occupied by a sushi restaurant. 

The couple took over the new space in November and did renovations there while keeping the Main Street locale open. 

The new space is larger but will feature the same breakfast faves and lunch specials like comfort food lunch specials like pork schnitzel and Nathan’s hot dogs. 

No new tenant for the old space has been announced by Main Street officials. 

Another part of the merchant family, Bohemian boutique Luna and Lillies, is leaving so owners Karli and Will Dixon can focus on their new baby. A jewelry store will be taking over that space at 1401 Main Street. More on that to come in our next update.

The new arrival on Main Street is Limoncello’s Cibo Italiano, a counter service Italian eatery at 1203B Main Street. The spot has been in the works for nearly a year and features handmade pasta, daily homemade sauces, ready-to-heat to-go meals and unique Italian desserts.

Black Marlin closed for renovations: It is technically the F&B offseason, though if you ask the industry veterans, they will tell you there is no offseason here anymore. That’s good sometimes, but not when it comes to the freshening up that eateries do in taking advantage of the winter lull. The SERG Group is no stranger to that, as it seems one of their restaurants is remodeled each year. 

This year, it’s the Black Marlin Bayside Grill that’s getting the update. The restaurant closed in early January and will be closed through mid- to late-February. If it’s anything like past renos, prepare to be wowed.

Tio’s owners taking over Fiddlers: Sometimes the universe just aligns and a plan on which you had no designs becomes the new path. Sally and Lynden Zuniga have been busy building their Tio’s empire, continuing to grow both their Shelter Cove location and their Bluffton locale at Buckwalter Place. The couple were looking for potential investments when a commercial realtor alerted them of a potential opening at Fiddler’s Seafood Restaurant and Market in Ridgeland. 

Long-time owner Donna Rowell was looking to sell the beloved West Main Street staple. On the surface, it was a weird move for the Zunigas and their Latin American cuisine focus. 

But seafood is a centerpiece of Chef Lynden’s menus, and as it turns out, the family has roots in Ridgeland, as Sally’s brother Nate, who has been overseeing the growth in Bluffton, has a budding farm in Ridgeland that includes a pair of newly adopted rescue pigs. 

“We went up there on a whim and just fell in love. Any investment we were looking at, we wanted a project that’s immersed in a community. That’s exactly what Fiddler’s is – they have developed a following because they care about the people and about every dish they sell,” Sally Zuniga said of their recently finalized purchase of Fiddler’s. “They have an amazing staff that will continue to be the face of the restaurant. We’re not looking to change. We just want to continue to build on what Donna and his staff have already expertly built.”

That will include a few cosmetic upgrades in the dining room and in the adjacent market building on South Green Street. But the Zunigas wanted Fiddler’s loyal customer base to know there will be no reinventing the wheel.

“This is a vital part of Ridgeland and we look forward to continuing the legacy that Donna has built in town,” Zuniga said. 

The UPS Store has opened at Buckwalter Place at 7 Venture Drive, next to Icon Carts and Hotworx. Spokesperson and Bluffton partner Kate Pesaturo, who also runs one of the franchise locations in Savannah, said the new store is ready for your Amazon returns, shipments, shredding, printing and passport photo needs – just to name a few of the services the jack of all small business services store provides.

Oh yeah, Aldi opened. It’s the news that just about broke the local internet. The long-awaited German grocery titan has opened its location in the Hobby Lobby plaza at the intersection of U.S. 278 and Burnt Church Road. Store officials welcomed a crowd of more than 350 diehards that had waited for hours for the chance to win gift cards and a Golden Ticket shopping spree. 

This is the Trader Joe’s we never got. The fervor for this new edition to the grocery scene makes us believe many of that brigade is already saying, “Trader Who?” after decades of being scorned by the chain. 

The store had a soft opening on Jan. 25 and its official opening on Jan. 26, and yes, the Aisle of Shame and the red bag chicken are everything they were cracked up to be. If you know, you know. Like a good movie, I don’t want to spoil too much of the surprise for y’all. 

An official welcome to the Lowcountry and danke schoen for the smiles and savings you’ve brought to our lives.

D.J.’S Day of Giving coming Feb. 24: It’s hard to believe it’s been yet another year, but we are now prepping for the third annual D.J.’s Day of Giving to honor fallen Bluffton teen Dwon “D.J.” Fields, Jr. This year’s event is once again on the 55th day of the year in memory of the number DJ wore for the Bobcats football team. 

More than 70 businesses participated last year in giving a percentage of their sales for the day to the Live Like D.J. Scholarship Fund. The fund has raised close to $100,000 since Fields was killed in a March 5, 2021, shooting, and the family welcomed the first class of Live Like DJ Scholars in 2022. 

This year’s scholarship application deadline is March 13. For more information and to donate to the fund, go to For more information on this year’s Day of Giving, go to And if you’re a business looking to take part, please call or text me at 843-290-6242 or email and we will make you part of our 2023 lineup.

Pork butt sale coming: An array of local businesses and community leaders is once again cooking up the world’s most delicious pork butts on Super Bowl weekend to raise money for local charities. F3 Lowcountry is taking reservations for the 2023 Pork Butt Sale on Feb. 11. 

This year, seven local businesses – High Point Family Dentistry, Elite Sports Therapy, Bella Straw, Kinghorn Insurance, SERG Restaurant Group, Vaux Marscher Berglind (VMB) and J.K. Tiller Associates – are sponsoring the sale to help offset the cost of purchasing the epic amount of pork butts that the F3 crew will cook up in the VMB parking lot off May River Road. 

DJ’s Day of Giving was one of the fund recipients in 2023, and this year, the proceeds will go to Save the Shutters, a charity focused on providing home renovations for low-income families, and The Celebration Project, a nonprofit that provides birthday parties and special events to families fighting severe illnesses.

The roughly 5-pound finished butts are $40 each and can be picked up from 9 a.m. to noon at 1251 May River Road on Feb. 11. I can tell you that Kevin Icard and his crew cook up insanely succulent gifts from culinary heaven that give all of our Old Town smoker experts a run for their money. Make your reservation by Feb. 7 by email at or by calling 843-901-3476.  

Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton.