This summer has been positively bombarded with news of openings, announcements, moves and more (in a good way). If you’re the type who likes to be first in line or ahead of the curve, then this smattering of recently opened businesses and those in the works should be right up your alley. Here’s what’s new in the Heart of SC: 

Come On In 

If there’s anyone in town who knows how to drum up anticipation for a new concept, it’s Kristian Niemi. And he always delivers. The longtime Columbia restaurateur is back in the Vista with The Dragon Room. Specializing in the spirit of Japanese izakaya (Stay/Drink/Place), The Dragon Room invites you to linger over small plates from absolutely every corner of Asia complemented by expertly crafted cocktails.  

Rosewood’s newest neighborhood haunt comes to you in the form of the coziest little enclave, The Hoot. Dark tones, floral wallpaper, nature-focused artwork and one curious neon banana invoke that of a woodland den, where you can nestle in and stay awhile over plant-based plates and an impressive drink menu. 

Fans of Duke’s Pad Thai in Cayce have been flocking to their neighboring sister concept, Little Bee Bun Mee, since they opened in mid-July (and were likely stalking the opening announcement long before that). Pop into this fast-casual spot for Southeast Asian eats like “bun-mee” sandwiches, poke bowls, sushi, salads, fruit fusion refreshments and more. 

Descend into the depths of Smoked, where you’ll now find The Burnline, Main Street’s chic new speakeasyRare spirits, an exclusive cocktail menu and passwords accessed via social media all add to the enigmatic air surrounding this self-proclaimed clandestine haven. Color us intrigued. 

Prepare to be pampered at The SKINHOUSE, a new concept by The Beautique Skin Co. that blends skincare with a social experience (in an absolutely stunning environment, we might add). Book a service, sip on a cocktail and even pepper in some education and learn how to do it yourself. You’ll leave feeling rejuvenated and ready for anything.

Tucked behind the charming Historic Springdale House in West Columbia, you’ll find The Dales Biergarten and Bottle Shoppe, a quaint space in which to kick back with some craft beer or wine. Having just opened in May, it still feels like an insider’s secret. But with regular trivia nights, live music lineups and visiting food trucks to pair with an ever-evolving draught list, we have a feeling this gem won’t stay hidden for long. 

Residing in the former Cottontown Brew Lab space, Capital City Cornhole offers seven lanes of cornhole play, an arcade area and a canteen stocked with snacks, beer, wine and soft drinks in a temperature-controlled facility that allows you to throw some bags rain or shine. 

Since The Grand first opened, several concepts have called its basement home. First, a casual taproom hangout, then an Alice in Wonderland-esque dessert bar (more on that later) and now it’s become a full-fledged Polynesian paradise in the form of Urban Tiki. Partake in the island-inspired food and drink menu and melt into the staycation experience.

Owned and operated by Oliver Gospel in the Main Street DistrictThe Hope Shop is a new secondhand boutique offering affordable high-end apparel and accessories for both men and women. Having forged partnerships with local businesses to encourage donations, the items for resale are a cut above what one might typically find in a thrift shop and fully leaning into the shop with a purpose mentality, revenues will go back into the mission’s assistance programs. 

A number of well-established national brands have recently decided to add Columbia to their rosters. Playfully referring themselves as being a “hot mess,” Sully’s Steamers is serving up their soft, melty and stacked bagel sandwiches on Devine Street. And speaking of hot, if it’s heat you seek, head a bit further up the road to Garner’s Ferry to see why Dave’s Hot Chicken has become somewhat of a spicy sensation with locations all over the country and even overseas. Beer and baseball have gone hand in hand since the dawn of time, so it only makes sense that a brewery would stake its spot in the BullStreet District. Enter Pennsylvania-based Iron Hill Brewery, serving up bites and brews throughout Fireflies season and beyond. Over in the Mill DistrictBanh Mi Boys are slinging a variety of the Vietnamese signature sandwiches that’ll have your tastebuds singing.

Coming Soon  

Local beer lovers have waited with bated breath all spring for an official opening announcement from Bierkeller. Having operated exclusively through pop-up biergartens for seven years, finally having their very own brick-and-mortar location is kind of a big deal. Come fill your steins at Canalside very soon. 

Five Points’ newest boutique, Break Point, opens August 11th and specializes in all things tennis and pickleball. So get your racket arms ready and prepare to hit the court in style, because this spot is sure to be a game, set, match for your wardrobe. 

There’s a new festival on the block. The 600 and 700 blocks of Meeting Street, that is. Give a warm, West Columbia welcome to the inaugural Meeting Street Music Fest on Sept. 16th. Featuring a lineup that includes The Reggie Sullivan Band, Turnstiles and headliner Meli’sa Morgan, this free event is sure to have you up on your feet dancing the night away.

Gas tanks, rejoice! Come late summer/ early fall, we’ll no longer need to road trip to Camden to enjoy the fresh tacos, burritos, bowls and more from Masa Mexican Street Food, because we’re getting our very own location in Rosewood. Anyone else suddenly craving a margarita? 

Seasoned Favorites in Fresh Spaces

Mixing it up on Main Street, a few familiar local businesses have pulled a bit of a switcheroo. As we previously alluded, The Robinson Room is no longer residing in the basement of The Grand. Instead, they’ve hopped across the street into their own standalone space that formerly housed Good Life Café. 

So where did Good Life Café go? They bounced around the corner next door to Hotel Trundle, sharing an eye-catching green building with Icon on Taylor (formerly the Shoppes on Main). 

Finally, Kao Thai Cuisine vacated their original home in the Vista and have since become Main Street’s newest residents, recently opening the doors to their gorgeous new location. So come say hi to all your friends and support them in their new digs.