It was a joyous day March 12 when Monkee’s women’s boutique opened in the Promenade in Old Town Bluffton. COURTESY MONKEE’S

We are moving into prime-time tourist season and it’s just as busy for new businesses making their mark in the Lowcountry. Happy Heritage Month, y’all. We get started with news on one of the fastest-growing sections of Bluffton.

Big News in New Riverside: You’ve seen the DOT work and the streets being paved and the townhome and apartment shells popping up quicker than spring weeds. Now we have some real news as to how the commercial side of New Riverside Village is coming together.

First thing you may have noticed is that there is a placard on the May River Road frontage sign for the budding epicenter of commerce and leisure next to the roundabout. That belongs to Riverside Animal Hospital, but it really belongs to the folks behind Bluffton Veterinary Hospital. 

They were one of the OG veterinarians that sprung up on the Bluffton Parkway before even the first resident boom in the early days of Y2K. Now they plan to be one of the early settlers on the New Riverside side of town (Lowcountry Vets has already set up shop off Gibbet Road).

The largest part of the commercial boom at the Village will be a 16,000-square-foot restaurant and retail complex being developed by J.R. Richardson of The Richardson Group. The first official tenant announced is a familiar one – Local Pie. The Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzeria will open its third location as one of the dining anchors, joining their New Orleans Road location on Hilton Head Island and their first Bluffton location in The Promenade in Old Town.

TRG officials are working to finalize other retail and dining partners, including a second large eatery. I hear that an announcement on the names to fill those building is coming in the next few weeks. But Richardson Group officials said they hope to have Local Pie and other partners open by March 2024.

One more name we don’t need to wait on is a familiar coffee roaster. The Grind Roasters has signed on to join the Village and will be opening its second location this fall, according to owner Ian Duncan. He said they hope to get keys to their spot in early fall for an October/November opening. 

One footnote: There is construction activity across the street at May River Crossing as well. An urgent care facility is being built out next to the Ice Cream Stop and there was recent construction activity on the building that is still set to house the latest locale for New York City Pizza. There is currently a loud, red stop-work-order sticker on the window, but town officials confirmed that NYCP is still building there once it is properly permitted.

Corner Perk invades island: One of Bluffton’s other favorite java gems has officially crossed the bridge. Josh Cooke and his crew officially opened the doors on March 6, giving the first 100 customers through the doors a $50 gift card. There are so many nooks and crannies to the new locale – it feels like Cooke and Co. went into overdrive to create the optimum ambiance inside to compensate for the difference in outside vibes between The Promenade and the Hilton Head locale in the Publix shopping center. Mission accomplished. Between the comfy chairs, stylish workstation desks and the murals and decoration, the island locale has the comfy feeling that has become synonymous with the Perk. You’ve come along way since Bruin Road, my friend. Congrats. 

Yes, a third coffee item thanks to the behemoth: I have felt the pain of the Buckwalter crowd that has seen every corner of the U.S. 278 corridor get a Starbucks before them. That problem is getting solved, as plans have been submitted for a third Bluffton standalone location in the new Washington Square development off Buckwalter Parkway. The proposed 2,500-square-foot coffee shop would be located at 401 Bleecker St. next to Lowcountry Fresh Market and Café. One unique feature of the plan: A drive-through lane that would accommodate 12 cars before dumping into the 28-space parking lot. 

Same owner, new name at Berkeley Place eatery: It has been a while since we’ve been able to chow down on a glorious Cheeburger Cheeburger cheeseburger next to the Cinemark movie theater in Berkeley Place. That’s all thanks to extensive water and ceiling damage that shut down the location for many months. But that did not stop the mother-daughter Groark family team from rebuilding. They have shed the franchise label and re-opened as the Prime Time Grille on March 3, just in time for March Madness. While some may be sad to see the shake bar gone, in its place is a true bar area with TV screens that make it a much-needed sports bar locale for the Buckwalter set.

Lemon Island Seafood coming to Bluffton: Brandy Witherow has had a rollercoaster year. First, she won a $10,000 woman-owned business grant in September 2022. Then she finds out that the county is evicting her from her Okatie Highway location to build a parking lot for boaters. The coaster is on the upswing though, as Witherow has announced that she will be moving to Plantation Park Plaza off U.S. 278 in Bluffton. The new location will be next to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Witherow told her followers on Facebook that she hopes to open by May 1.

A new daily habit on the island: Michelle and Scott Allen have been a food and beverage staple on Hilton Head Island for four decades. The owners of Scott’s Fish Market Restaurant and Bar at Shelter Cove have opened up Daily Café HHI (, 843-686-2525), just down the row from Scott’s in the Shops at Shelter Cove Marina at 9 Harbourside Lane, Unit A1. The idea behind Daily Café is quality ingredients and grab-and-go foods, from breakfast items to salads and sandwiches. Scott has been involved in many eatery icons for decades, from Hugo’s to CQ’s to Fulvio’s and Harbourmasters, and early reviews have the Daily off to a roaring start since its March 7 opening. 

Hey, Hey, it’s Monkee’s: No, it’s not the iconic ’60s TV rockin’ goofballs. This is a Southeast-based women’s boutique franchise that has opened its doors in the Old Town Promenade at 14 Promenade Street, Unit 301 (, 843-707-4597). Each of the franchise’s locations are independently owned and operated, and Alison Haynes is the proprietor of the clothier’s latest location. Haynes previously worked for the family business, All Seasons Comfort, until her father’s retirement last year. Her husband, Alex, and his team at Genesis Construction, did the buildout and renovation of the space ahead of the boutique’s March 12 opening. Congrats to the Monkee’s team and to Alex and Alison, who just celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary.

Tonkin taking his shot: Jamie Tonkin has built up a strong reputation in the garage door business for two decades across the Lowcountry working for others. Now, he’s ready to build his own brand as he launches Coastline Overhead Door ( The company will focus on new and replacement installation, as well as annual tune-ups and preventative care to make sure your garage door is in top-top shape. Call Coastline at 843-422-8584 for a free quote.

A sad anniversary: This spring marks the 12th anniversary of when The Sembler Company hoped to break ground on the $400 million Okatie Crossing project at the intersection of U.S. 278 and S.C. 170.  Okatie River runoff concerns, an economic downturn and some local short-sightedness led Sembler to move on to brighter pastures. It’s filling in piecemeal now, but oh, what could have been.

Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton.