Once again, the spies have returned for their second mission: To check out the very best that Augusta has to offer in our shopping and services categories, according to the readers of the Metro Spirit.
Whether it’s discovering the best place to find a grill, gun or golf course in town, these spies and our readers will always point you in the right direction.
Next week, the spies will introduce everyone to all the best art and entertainment personalities in Augusta! (Click here to see the Metro’s Best 2018 food and beverage winners.)
Congratulations to all of the Metro’s Best 2018 winners!
Best Jewelry Store
Windsor Fine Jewelers
The U.S. Embassy told the spies to locate the home of the “little green box” just a few hundred feet away from the Augusta National Golf Club. What the spies rapidly discovered was the crème de la crème of the jewelry world at Windsor Fine Jewelers, sponsors of Metro’s Best, on Washington Road. For more than 40 years, Windsor owner Donnie Thompson has established an outstanding reputation as the best in the business. Customers come from all over the globe to Windsor to shop in its impressive two-story building offering gorgeous items from John Hardy, David Yurman, Mikimoto, Rolex and many more. Time’s ticking. Head over to Windsor.
Best New Car Dealership
Best Pre-owned Car Dealership
Gerald Jones Auto Group
Everyone knows that spies love sleek, sexy cars. The spies could have easily spent days admiring the thousands of new and used cars offered by the Gerald Jones Auto Group. Whether drivers are looking for an Audi, Ford, Honda, Lincoln, Mazda, Subaru, Volkswagen or Volvo car, truck or SUV, they’ll definitely find what they’re looking for at Gerald Jones. The spies happily left the lot with a 2018 Audi A5 convertible. Zoom!!!
Best Place to Get a Massage
Best Salon and Spa
Spies suffer from a lot of stress. So when our spies were assigned to check out Tuscany: A Classic Italian Spa located off Belair Road in Evans, they gladly went undercover. Known as a spa that offers its customers a tranquil escape from modern life that relaxes and rejuvenates their clients’ bodies, Tuscany absolutely transformed our spies with an invigorating Swedish massage. The spies’ stress was replaced with vitality and a newfound inner peace.
Best Hair Salon
Nominated for “Salon of the Year” for 2018 by Salon Today Magazine, Studio 285 in Evans offers its clients a “home away from home” experience. The spies were in disguise when they met owners and sisters Brittany Harrington and Amber Harrington Carraway. The two women provided the spies the highest level of customer service and a fabulous look that would make the most fashionable Parisians jealous.
Best Wedding Reception Venue
Enterprise Mill Events Center
Enterprise Mill Events Center not only offers some of the best catering in town, but it also provides a beautifully historic location to make any wedding day, anniversary party or special gathering an event that your friends and family will never forget. The spies put on their formal black and white attire to attend a cocktail party at the Mill. They couldn’t get enough of the oysters Rockefeller, empanadas and bacon-wrapped scallops. Yum!
Best Casual Caterer
Fat Man’s Mill Cafe and Catering
Anyone who has lived in Augusta for any significant amount of time knows the deep love locals have for the long legacy of Fat Man’s. This locally owned, family-run restaurant on Greene Street adjacent to Augusta’s historic Enterprise Mill offers hearty Southern classics nicknamed “soul good” dishes such as fried catfish, smothered chicken, sweet potato casserole, fried okra and collard greens. While Fat Man’s might be best known for its “soul good” lunches, the spies quickly learned that its catering business at Enterprise Mill has really exploded over the past several years. Fat Man’s can handle any special occasion with ease.
Best Full-Service Caterer
As a native Augustan, Robert Williams, owner of Roux’s Catering in downtown, grew up learning traditional Southern cuisine passed down through the generations and has always loved cooking for people. For several years, Williams worked in a variety of restaurants around town such as Davenport’s, The American Diner and Cadwallader’s Cafe until 1996, when he decided to open Roux’s Catering. Since then, customers can’t stop raving about Roux’s platters such as the smoked chicken quesadillas with cilantro sour cream, the Tuscan spinach and artichoke dip and the Thai chicken sticks with peanut dipping sauce.
The Partridge Inn
If the Partridge Inn on Walton Way can host past presidents, celebrities and titans of industries since opening its doors in 1910, the spies knew they would feel right at home in this historical Augusta hotel. Known as “The Grand Hotel of the Classic South,” the Partridge Inn has been cherished by Augustans for more than a century. This elegant hotel has served more than five generations of travelers and approximately 1.5 million guests over the years. This hotel is still the “place to be seen” in Augusta.
Best Bicycle Shop
Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse
After a little research, the spies learned Andy Jordan’s passion for cycling started in the early 1970s, but he quickly learned that he had to drive out of town to get quality bicycles and proper equipment. That inconvenience drove him to open Augusta’s first full-service, pro-level bicycle store in 1974. Sadly, Andy Jordan passed away in 2015, but he left the store in the highly capable hands of son, Drew and longtime staff. These guys won’t steer you wrong. Stop by and check out their incredible bikes and get all the inside tips about local trails such as FATS.
Best Outdoor Kitchen Sales and Installation
REC TEC Grills
They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Let’s hope so, if a REC TEC grill is around. The spies learned that REC TEC has its own mission: to build high-quality grills and sell them at reasonable prices. With REC TEC’s world-class line of pellet grills, the spies were amazed to see how these grills maintains the most accurate temperature down to the very degree. The spies also discovered that REC TEC grills are built like a tank, so they’ll be smokin’ for many years to come. Happy grilling!
Best Outdoor Recreation Supplies Store
Academy Sports + Outdoors
The spies have spent many years at a training academy, but they quickly found out that Academy Sports + Outdoors was very different from what they’re used to. At Academy Sports, visitors aren’t put to the test. Enthusiasts go to Academy to find the best equipment at the lowest prices for camping, fishing, boating, water sports and more. The spies bought two quality tents and compasses, perfect for their next mission.
Best Kayak Sales
Kayaks are a great way to escape, either the threat of other spies or simply the daily grind of everyday life. So when the spies learned that Escape Outdoors is the largest specialty paddle-sport shop in the Augusta area, they were immediately on board. The store stocks the best brands in kayaks such as Wilderness Systems, Jackson Kayak, Native Watercraft, Dagger and Perception Kayaks and offers a full line of accessories including paddles and gear. Make sure you visit Escape Outdoors before your next new adventure.
Best Gun Store
Purchasing firearms is something our spies know a lot about after years of espionage. But they discovered that Southeastern Armory inside Friedman’s on Washington Road has rewritten the book on the standard-issue firearms and accessories. This isn’t a sporting goods store. Southeastern Armory is an actual gun store and a Class 3 Firearms dealer. It’s also the Augusta area’s Blue Label Glock dealer. In addition, Southeastern Armory has a jaw-dropping private collection of WWII vintage pistols. The spies were incredibly impressed.
Best Hunting Supplies Store
Let’s just say, Cabela’s is a leader in the outdoor equipment business that has managed to grow and prosper from simple beginnings to become the largest mail-order, retail and internet outdoor outfitter in the world. Cabela’s is the world’s foremost outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear. But the spies were most impressed by the fact that the retailer’s founder, Dick Cabela, began the business back in 1961 when he came up with a plan to sell hand-tied fishing flies. Impressive.
Best Music Store
Jay’s Music & Super Sound Center
After about 25 years on the corner of Old Berckmans and Washington roads, Jay’s Music moved its 75-year-old business to its new location at the former Piccadilly’s location at 3110 Washington Road. Jay’s Music is the place to get all the instruments and accessories you’ll need. The spies were jammin’ all night.
Best Vape Shop
Victorious Vapors was founded back in 2009 and staffed by people who know firsthand just how hard it can be to stop smoking cigarettes. Being former smokers for well over 20 years, the managing partners of Victorious Vapors quit smoking with the e-cig and set out to tell everyone in their network that e-cigs really work. In January 2013, the partners moved into their first superstore and have continued to expand. Victorious Vapors has three locations in Augusta, Athens and Cumming, Ga.
Best Tattoo Studio
If you want to see some true artwork, there’s no need to go to a gallery. Head on over to Allegiance Ink and take a look at the work by Phillip Jacobs and his powerhouse team of talented tattoo artists. The spies both picked out dynamite as their new tattoos and they were blown away by the artwork! Allegiance Ink’s clean studio, friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable artists offer some of the best ink and piercings in town. Located in Martinez since 2011, Allegiance Ink is keen on creating the best customer experience and bringing the most talented artists all under one roof.
Best Thrift Store
Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia expanded its territory into Augusta and Aiken back in 1996 to help build lives one career at a time by encouraging people to develop their gifts through education, work and career services. The spies found that the Goodwill stores also offer some of the most stylist and unique clothes and gifts in town. And when you shop at Goodwill, approximately 86 cents of every dollar spent is re-invested in Goodwill’s life-changing mission. So get shopping!
Best Fitness Center
The Family Y
The YMCA is a cause-driven organization focused on three key areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The spies were inspired by seeing people invest in a community’s children, good health and friendly neighbors. There’s something for everyone of all ages at The Family Y’s multiple locations in the greater Augusta area. It’s true. Everybody belongs at The Family Y! (Even the spies.)
Best Public Golf Course
Established in 1926, Augusta University’s Forest Hills is a much-loved staple within the local golf community. The 18-hole course was originally designed by world renowned course architect Donald Ross, but it was renovated by the Arnold Palmer Company in 2004. This course holds a remarkable history from Bobby Jones beginning his 1930 Grand Slam at Forest Hills to hosting college events where future greats like Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III competed over the years. The spies soon learned this isn’t your typical golf course.
Best Martial Arts School
Greubel’s Mixed Martial Arts
Every good spy needs to know how to defend himself. Since 2005, Greubel’s Mixed Martial Arts has been the Augusta area’s leader in martial arts instruction. With a world-class coaching staff that includes the head coach of Team USA Kickboxing and several world kickboxing champions, Greubel’s is the place to get your fitness on. Greubel’s teaches boxing, karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, judo, wrestling and much more. It also offers classes for individuals of every fitness level. Greubel’s is the place to go to get fit like a fighter!
Best Gymnastics Center
The spies are used to jumping through rings, but at Gymnastic Gold, the instructors strive to provide a safe environment for each individual to grow mentally and physically while experiencing the joy of participation. Since opening its doors in 1994, Gymnastics Gold has been the area’s foremost gymnastics facility. Their competitive programs have even produced both state and national champions. So go for the gold!
Best Yoga Studio
As a spy, you always need to be flexible. But at Oxygen Fitness, their team takes it to the next level with classes such as hot yoga. This open-level power yoga class is taught in a heated room. The heat provides for a detoxifying sweat while you flow through an athletic and dynamic sequence of postures. According to the spies, there’s nothing like a good sweat to know you’re alive. So get sweaty and strong at the same time!
Best Dance Studio
Augusta West Dance Studio
The spies have always wanted to dance like Fred Astaire, so a visit to Augusta West Dance Studio was a good first step. The studio, which has been a staple in Augusta for more than 40 years, has produced dancers such as the famed Kathryn McCormick, who competed on “So You Think You Can Dance” and went on to have roles in films like “Fame.” Tony award-winning actress Sutton Foster also is a past alum of the dance studio. So if you’re interested in a future in dance or entertainment, Augusta West can open a lot of doors.
Best Advertising Agency
TranterGrey Media Group
This Emmy award-winning, marketing and media company based in Evans is a full-service agency that was established in early 2005. The company’s president and CEO Blane Bailey first began a direct mail business called Super Saver Coupon, which has been thriving in the CSRA for more than 20 years. That successful, direct-mail business has funded TranterGrey Media Group, which offers an incredible in-house team that includes three full-time graphic designers, three full-time producers for video production and two full-time web developers to fully meet their clients’ needs.
Best Dental Practice
Evans Dental Group
The Evans Dental Group, which was originally founded in 1981 by Dr. David Beaudreau, but continued by Dr. Gary Beaudreau and Dr. William Wright a few years later, is not your typical dentist’s office. As soon as the spies arrived, they noticed that everything at Evans Dental is designed to make a patient’s visit as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Evans Dental made the spies’ smiles healthy and beautiful.
Best Dermatology Practice
Spies are always under stress. Lately, they’ve been noticing some early signs of wrinkles, so they were anxious to see what Evans Dermatology could do for them. Whether you are suffering with eczema, spider veins, acne, “crow’s feet” or severely sun-damaged skin, Dr. Frances Florentino and the team at Evans Dermatology are committed to giving their patients the state-of-the-art, skillful care they deserve. The spies felt right at home and got some great dermatological treatment, as well as advice on how to better care for their skin.
Best Plastic Surgery Center
Augusta Plastic Surgery
Established in 1978, Augusta Plastic Surgery has been the leading provider of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery in the Augusta area for 40 years. With highly skilled plastic surgeons like Dr. Randolph Smith, Dr. Chris Ewart and Dr. Michael Tarakji, these doctors perform both common and complex reconstructive procedures in a variety of areas such as breast reconstruction after cancer, breast reductions, skin cancer reconstruction, hand surgery and wound care. These doctors know how to care for their patients.
Founded in 1818 as City Hospital on Greene Street in downtown Augusta, University Hospital is proudly celebrating 200 years of service to the Augusta area. By continuously responding to the needs of the community, University has grown into one of the largest, most comprehensive health care providers in Georgia. It’s clear to the spies that University’s devotion to patients is never ending. With more than 600 doctors and staff, they have a specialist for every condition a patient might suffer from, and you can be sure that their specialists will do everything in their power to help.
Best Prompt Care
MedNow Urgent Care
After days of investigative work, one of the spies started to run a fever and feel a bit run down. So the two spies headed to a nearby MedNow Urgent Care Center and were shocked to find out it was open seven days a week and no appointment was necessary. How convenient is that? After all, when you’re not feeling well, the last thing you want to do is spend hours in a crowded waiting room not knowing when you will be seen. Now, both spies are back on their feet again.
Best IT Company
The spies are always damaging their computers during quick getaways on boats, planes and submarines, so when given a chance to visit Computer One, they took both their PC and Mac computers in so the IT support team could resolve some serious issues. After a short visit, the spies can now quickly bring up their secret files and favorite websites in seconds. The spies were so impressed with Computer One that they asked the IT team to develop a fresh, new website for their secret spy club.
Best Credit Union
SRP Federal Credit Union
Ever since 1960, SRP Federal Credit Union has been dedicated to its members because their customers are the true heart of the credit union. The spies were amazed to learn that SRP currently serves as the financial institution for more than 100,000 members. Over the years, SRP has offered sound savings programs, interest-earning checking accounts, competitive loan options and a variety of other convenient services tailored to fit its members’ needs.
Best Tree Service
Big Dog Stump & Tree
Best Lawn Care Service
Turf Pride Lawn Care
While spies are often deep “in the weeds” entangled in the problems and complexities of their missions, they also wrestle with weeds in their yards. After talking to the fine staff at Turf Pride Lawn Care, the spies learned the company provides a variety of personalized lawn care services such as weed control, lawn aeration, shrub care, lawn fertilization, liming, fire ant prevention and mosquito control. Now the spies are proud to host lawn parties once again.
Best Auto Repair Shop
One thing is certain, spies need a dependable ride. For more than 40 years, C&C Automotive has proudly served the CSRA as an auto repair center and tire dealer. C&C Automotive is a family-owned and operated shop that has always been focused on building strong customer relationships and providing the highest quality of workmanship in automotive repair. They specialize in domestic and foreign vehicles, including Jaguar and Land Rover and can handle all types of repairs. That’s a major relief for our accident-prone spies.
Best Law Firm
The Hawk Firm
It always helps to have a brilliant lawyer on your side. That’s why our spies turn to The Hawk Firm when they need solid legal advice. Jacque Hawk, the founder of The Hawk Firm, has been successfully representing clients since 1984. He was voted as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the American Trial Lawyers Association, and he fully understands the importance of having a lawyer in your corner when tragedy strikes. The firm can handle anything from personal injury cases to criminal justice as well as estate planning, family law, divorce law and medical malpractice. If you need help, call The Hawk Firm.
Best Senior Living Center
The spies have been so impressed with the Augusta area that they are considering retiring here. So, they stopped by Brandon Wilde to visit the more than 70-acre campus with about 400 residents and 200 staff. The spies quickly discovered Brandon Wilde has residents from all over the world who happily joined this active community. Also, as a “Life Care Community,” Brandon Wilde offers everything from independent living residences such as cottage homes to assisted living memory care at the community’s Windsor House. Needless to say, Brandon Wilde is a senior living center that residents are proud to call home.
Best Air Conditioning Service
Busby’s Heating and Air
One thing the spies have learned over the past few weeks is, Augusta gets warm in the summer, so a good air conditioning unit is a vital part of surviving in the South. For more than 70 years, Busby’s Heating and Air has provided HVAC services, sales, installation and repairs to thousands of satisfied customers in the CSRA. This family-owned and operated company has called the Augusta area home since 1945, so they know what it takes to beat the heat.
Best Home Painting
If your house is looking a little shabby, the spies know exactly where to go: CertaPro Painters. Their staff will completely transform homes and businesses and help your valuable property come back to life. Their painters also arrive on time, respect everyone’s property and help create a space that their customers will love to call home.
Spies can be messy, especially on a stakeout. So when their hideaway needs serious help, the spies call Merry Maids to clean up their mess. These cleaning service professionals are thorough and reliable. The company screens and trains all of its employees, Merry Maids are bonded and insured and they happily bring their own equipment and supplies. The spies didn’t even have to lift a finger.
Best Window Tint
Darkside Window Tinting
A good window tint is crucial when undercover, so our spies were extremely impressed with the friendly, reliable and quality service at Darkside Window Tinting. The staff were courteous, and they did absolutely solid work. One customer even told our spies, “I have used them for almost 15 years and have had more than 10 vehicles done. They are the best tint in town. There’s no other place I’ll go.”
The spies enjoy State Farm’s jingle, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” but they also discovered that it’s more than a slogan. State Farm means every word of it. This insurance company understands that being a good neighbor is about more than just being there when things go completely wrong. It’s about being there for all of life’s moments. And State Farm has been standing by its customers since 1922.
Best Traditional Church Service
First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church of Augusta began humbly in 1817, with just 18 people uniting together to form the Baptist Praying Society. By 1821, the Society built its first sanctuary and began a tremendous time of growth. While the church relocated from Greene Street to its current site at Walton Way Extension in the early 1970s, First Baptist Church continues its long history of celebrating God through worship.
Best Contemporary Church Service
Stevens Creek Church
At Stevens Creek Church, life’s distractions immediately take a back seat and visitors are encouraged to experience new spiritual insights through uplifting worship. It is more than a building. Stevens Creek Church is made up of people who come together to learn more about who God is and how to realize their full potential through a personal and vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Pastor Marty Baker and his congregation provide sound biblical instruction, promotes daily application of God’s Word and fosters the building of close relationships through love and acceptance.
Best Grocery Store
Kroger is the grocery store that keeps on giving! Our readers have ranked it No. 1 in the area year after year. Just recently, Kroger announced its Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Plan to end hunger in America’s communities and to eliminate waste across its company by 2025. Currently, one in eight Americans struggle with hunger and, sadly, one in six children go hungry every day. To fight this growing problem, the company has committed to donating one billion meals to the hungry by 2020, and three billion meals by 2025. Go Kroger!
Metro’s Best 2018 is sponsored by Windsor Jewelers