The interior of the new Paris Baguette Bakery Café in Port Royal Plaza on Hilton Head Island. Jaclyn Orlando

This edition of the Business Update is all about rejuvenation. We’re talking about folks who are taking big swings, breaking new ground and inhabiting spots across the Lowcountry that seemed like they may stay barren and uninhabited.

Pickleball coming to 170? It is the fastest growing sport in America and if you’ve ever played it, you know why so many folks enjoy pickleball. It’s a sport that the Sun City crowd has lauded for decades, and now players across the age spectrum are discovering what makes the game so addicting – a mix of tennis and ping pong that can be more of a workout than playing a five-setter. Richard Maggin of Palmetto Land Associates presented plans to the Bluffton Planning Commission for the Lowcountry Pickleball Club, a 10-acre complex in the Palmetto Pointe Business Park off of S.C. 170 that would include six indoor courts, six covered outdoor courts and six uncovered outdoor courts as part of a 30,000-square-foot building.

A 13,000-square-foot restaurant is also part of the plan. There has been initial balking from the Commission over traffic impact to the corridor and the plan for 222 parking spaces, but we hear from all sides that the idea is a welcome one that needs to be fine-tuned to serve a serious shortage of available courts and a bursting demand in the Lowcountry.

Parkers progressing on Parkway: If you’ve driven up and down the Bluffton Parkway regularly over the past couple months, you have seen major progress on the building of the area’s newest Parker’s at the corner of Oliver Court. We are hearing from those onsite that this latest location could be open by late October. It’s a welcome addition to those that have only been able to fill up on the island-bound side of the road at Enmarket – and if headed back toward Simmonsville, likely have to risk life and limb to make a left turn out of their fill-up.

It’s great to hear of needed traffic lights being built, such as the River Ridge Academy light planned to be finished by mid-2023. But it’s amazing there is no light at this intersection of the parkway. Perhaps Greg Parker can make it happen. And if he can, let’s talk about Old Miller Road and Gibbet Road off of May River Road … but I digress.

Furnishing titan heads to Tanger: Fans of the high-end furnishing dynamo Serena and Lily are excited to see the San Francisco-based retailer coming to Tanger Outlets 1 in Bluffton. Some would say this is long overdue with the design shop’s focus on décor with a coastal flair. The company has built larger-scale buildings with inclusive design studios in affluent destinations coast to coast, but has just two outlet locations open in California.

This will be their first foray on the East Coast in sharing the lavish household trimmings at a discounted price. The store has an Aug. 17 grand opening planned, according to store officials.

Big doings in Port Royal Plaza: It is one of the strangest business stories of the past 25 years on Hilton Head Island. A once thriving plaza loses anchor stores and is on the verge of becoming a death-of-the-shopping-mall cliché. Not so fast, my friend. There have been businesses like Street Meet and Plantation Café that have thrived there for years during the death knell years, and now, the plaza is looking more and more like a comeback success story.

First, Planet Fitness took over the old Bi-Lo location and North End Pour House took over the former Reilley’s North End home at 95 Mathews Drive. The Public Kitchen and Wine Bar opened in late 2021 and has garnered much buzz. Then there’s foodie entrepreneur Wei Zhu, the OKKU and Asian Bistro owner who announced plans to turn part of the old Bi-Lo into a food hall of sorts, with a plan to open a slew of eateries in the space.

The first of those spots is now open with the addition of Paris Baguette, a national high-end bakery brand that is known for baked breads, mochi donuts, gourmet sandwiches (try the chipotle chicken panino and the Hawaiian chicken wrap, you’ll thank me later). Did we mention mouth-watering desserts. Oh, yes, friends. There will be dessert.

There are more tenants to come, with a Jinya Ramen location and a Kung Fu bubble tea both under construction and a Hook and Reel seafood eatery planned as well.

The piece de resistance may be yet to come for the plaza. The elephant in the parking lot for years has been what to do with the former Sam’s Club home – there have been a couple of plans made public and a lot of ideas never made public that have never came to fruition. This time, it looks different, as Lowe’s Foods has submitted plans to take over the space.

Those who know of the Winston-Salem-based market chain know this has the makings of a perfect fit for the 70,000-square-foot space. The retailer went through ownership changes and a shrinking of its portfolio where it seemed as doomed as the space it looks to take over. But it too has had a rebirth, recently completing renovations of two Charleston locations with a new concept that includes a craft beer den, a chef-staffed pick-and-prep area, a cakery, a smokehouse and a chicken kitchen. 

The plan make take a few revisions, but fingers crossed that this is the fit that fully brings Port Royal Plaza back to its glory days.

Happy Anniversary, Lot 9: As as I was planning my re-entry into the Lowcountry, my buddy Barry Kaufman told me of a craft brewery planned for what to date was a complex filled with corporate and medical companies. I must admit, it sounded iffy and reminded me of another cool concept in a questionable-fit locale, the Blind Pig Saloon on Persimmon Street. I loved the Blind Pig and I still have dreams that it never closed and they named a stool and a beer after me. Lot 9 has proved many doubters wrong, as Walter and Kelley Trifari and their crew have created a community gem. They are celebrating their second anniversary on Aug. 20 with a big brouhaha (see what I did there).

Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at