Renovations are needed to change the former Friendly's Restaurant in Port Royal into an eye clinic, but the exterior will remain essentially the same and nostalgic pieces of the old business will be incorporated into the interior design.
Beaufort Eye Clinic has purchased the building at 1664 Ribaut Road and plans to start renovations shortly, clinical director Greg Pook said. The restaurant closed in 2010 after 10 years in business. Before that, the building was a Denny's restaurant.
Dr. Jane Kokinakis bought the Beaufort Eye Clinic at 1813 Richmond Ave. in 2007.
Pook said the clinic's eight to nine employees work "on top of each other" in its current building. The office could reopen at the new location this summer.
As he reminisced about eating lunch at Friendly's, Pook said old booths and other furnishings or decorations will be worked into the final design.
In other news about town:
The national chain restaurant and sports bar is building a 5,000-square-foot building and had planned to begin work in October and open in March, a company spokesman previously said.
This is one of several chain restaurants under construction, joining McDonald's at the intersection of Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary Street, and the Red Lobster/Olive Garden nearing completion on Boundary.
"It's been a tough economy the last two years," he said. "We haven't been making any profit."
Woods said rent increases are driving them out of business, as they pay $5,000 a month for the 4,300-square-foot space and he expects another rate increase of at least 10 percent if the lease is renewed. Woods has operated Ashley's Hallmark out of the shopping center for 21 years, he said.
"We've got such loyal customers, who are sort of at a loss on what they are going to do without a store in the area," he said.
Woods will go from greeting cards to concrete after the store closes -- he and his son recently bought Carolina Curbing and Landscape Design.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnPortRoyal.