Real Faces. WeCo Places.

Real Faces WeCo Places embraces the individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses encompassing the WeCo #HeadWest spirit! More information on each banner seen in the River District and Triangle City is below.

Phillip Blair
Owner, WECO Bottle & Biergarten

Phillip Blair is a lifelong resident of West Columbia. As for the Biergarten, he leased the property on Meeting Street in June of 2019 and poured his first beer on Christmas Eve 2019.
Phillip chose West Columbia for his business location because he knew there was a great need for the type of business he wanted to do. He found the City of West Columbia very receptive and welcoming in making it a reality.
His favorite thing about West Columbia is seeing the established businesses meshing into all of the new development and creating a place where people want to live and be proud.
West Columbia’s WECO Bottle Shop & Biergarten is a gathering and retail space for anyone looking for impeccable beer and wine selections in a relaxed atmosphere. With generous amounts of shaded outdoor seating in this reimagined former garden center, it’s the perfect stop on your way home from work or Saturday afternoon with friends. They regularly host food trucks and always have the best beer, wine, and service, where their theme is “West is Best”.

Find out more about WECO Bottle & Biergarten:

Chaye Alexander
Owner, Chayz Lounge

Chaye Alexander explains how she chose West Columbia for Chayz Lounge by saying, “I was led across the bridge, after exhausting my search in the City of Columbia, by instinct and intuition and found a beautiful space. West Columbia was not on my radar, but intuition led me across. I saw potential and all it could be. It was very exciting.”
Her favorite thing to do in West Columbia is to enjoy the Riverwalk. She loves to drive up and down in the neighborhoods, “there is such a feeling of community,” she explains. Chaye feels that West Columbia is a small town in a big city that provides a feeling of comfort. “When driving around the neighborhoods, you can absorb the feel of the area and city itself.”
Chaye moved her business to West Columbia and says that from the beginning of relocating her business to West Columbia, the ease and experience, from renovation licensing and paperwork to opening the doors, she felt a sense of community, which was vastly different than prior business dealings. “West Columbia has a welcoming feeling like you are a part of something.”
Chayz Lounge is the brainchild of Creative producer and former broadcast talent, Chaye Alexander. It began as an internet radio station and virtual space to enjoy the sounds of smooth R&B and jazz 24/7! The station also provided an avenue for recording artists to reach a global audience. Thanks to the millions of loyal listeners, it became one of the top radio stations on the web in its genre. It continues to satisfy music lovers worldwide with its consistent delivery of great music under the new name, Chayz Lounge Radio.
Chaye had more in mind for Chayz Lounge. She envisioned it being a brick-and-mortar space where adults can experience live music with some of the best talents. The backroom of Nonnah’s restaurant in the Vista provided the perfect setting for such a concept. In June 2017, the Chayz Lounge venue was brought to life. However, Chaye knew from the start that she needed more space and after two years at Nonnah’s, Chayz Lounge moved to its new home at 607 Meeting Street in West Columbia’s River District. The venue’s intimate listening room setting and warm, elegant decor invite patrons to experience the finest local, national, and international acts in the smooth jazz and soul genres.
For decades Chaye has provided avenues for musicians to be seen and heard. She continues to shine the light on talents each week via the live shows at Chayz Lounge.

Find out more about Chaye Alexander and Chayz Lounge:

Mike Davis
Owner/Head Chef, Terra

Chef Mike Davis opened Terra in 2006. He chose the location for the potential growth in the neighborhood. Since 2006, he not only found growth but learned that “the people on this side of the river are so friendly, from the residents to the those in city management, who make doing business in West Columbia such a pleasure. The views of the city are pretty amazing as well!”
The restaurant has earned a Wine Spectator award every year since its inception. In 2011 it earned a Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) distinction, making Terra one of just six restaurants in South Carolina and the only restaurant outside of Charleston to have earned such an award. Chef Mike Davis has been named Best Chef in the Midlands by readers of the Free Times five years consecutively beginning in 2014.
The restaurant is proud to be involved in the community and supports organizations such as Slow Food Columbia, Sustainable Midlands, the West Columbia Beautification Foundation, and GulfAid.
Terra is known for its sweeping views of the city skyline, which guests enjoy from the dining room or patio. In the bar, the wood oven is especially busy on Wednesdays, for Terra’s popular Pizza & Pinot special. With a menu that changes daily with seasonal offerings, a carefully curated wine list, attentive wait staff, and a creative cocktail menu, they provide exceptional offerings and an experience to remember.

More info:

Steve Cohen
Community Volunteer

Steve Cohen is one of West Columbia’s biggest champions. He volunteers with open arms for everything asked of him including the Greater CWC Chamber Board, Rhythm on the River Concert Series, River District Association, West Columbia Police Officers Foundation, and the West Columbia Beautification Foundation. Steve can be found at all the local events supporting the community.
Steve’s favorite thing about West Columbia is the Riverwalk Amphitheater, especially the Rhythm on the River Concert Series. West Columbia welcomed Steve with open arms as a volunteer. The feeling of family drew him to West Columbia and continues to keep him involved in the city.
Steve, and his wife Kara, frequently enjoy hanging out with friends at his two favorite places to go in West Columbia, Savage Craft Ale Works and WECO Bottle & Biergarten.
More info on City of West Columbia events:

Jenny Harrison
Owner, Seminole Candle Company

Jenny Harrison started her business, Seminole Candle Company, in her workshop. Starting her business in West Columbia was easy and it quickly expanded as her candles grew in popularity around the region and eventually nationally. In 2020, she needed to expand, so she found a storefront and workshop on Meeting Street.
Jenny loves everything about West Columbia, from the mature trees, lot sizes, to the proximity of things to do for socializing and relaxing.
Her favorite thing about owning a business in West Columbia is community support. She loves the Meeting Street Artisan Market and local shops in the area that carry her candles. West Columbia gave her the ability to build her client base, with the city’s support of local vendors and local businesses.
Seminole Candle Company loves to serve its community by creating products that evoke memories and emotions. The signature fragrances transport you back to that unforgettable day at the beach, your grandmother’s flower garden, campfires with your favorite people, or that awesome spa you visited that smelled so good. Light a Cucumber Mint or White Jasmine candle to transform your space into your spa, or try their prized Fresh Pine seasonal candle to get into the holiday spirit! The goal, at Seminole Candle Company, is to enhance their customers’ quality of life and relationships through sustainable home fragrance. Remember your cherished memories and create new ones with their beautiful soy candles.

More info on Seminole Candle Company:

Cameron Pringle
Student, East Point Academy

Cameron Pringle’s favorite thing to do in West Columbia is play and practice with the West Columbia Tigers Football Team. The team’s home field is located at the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center utilizing the historic Lakeview High School’s football field. Cameron has played for the Tigers for two years as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and middle linebacker. The West Columbia Tigers is a team that teaches the fundamentals of football and strongly emphasizes scholastic achievement. Zesto of West Columbia, in Triangle City, is Cameron’s favorite place to grab a meal and an ice cream cone with friends and family, especially after a big game.
The West Columbia Tigers are a part of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in South Carolina. The team plays and practices at the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center. The program is made up of around 300 children and 20 volunteers. While the children play football, they also are tutored and mentored in other aspects of life off the gridiron.

More info on the West Columbia Tigers:

Rob & Kathy Whetzel
Owners, Whetzel’s Automotive

Rob and Kathy Whetzel have owned Whetzel’s Automotive in West Columbia on Augusta Road for over 20 years. They met while working together in the automotive industry.
Their favorite thing about owning a business in West Columbia is the people because they are family-oriented and grounded. “There is a sense of unity,” says Kathy, “The residents and businesses, everyone welcomes you, like one big family. They are not customers to me, they are family.”
They also love the community for its support of the local High Schools, Airport, and Brookland Cayce. Rob states, “Everyone is so supportive of the kids, the teams, and their accomplishments.”
Kathy and Rob’s favorite things to do in West Columbia are to eat at the local restaurants and take a stroll on the Riverwalk.
Whetzel’s Automotive is all about the extended family, or customers as other businesses might call them. Whetzel’s Automotive is a family-owned and operated business that is dedicated to providing excellent automotive service. Focused on providing superior service, their highly trained staff takes pride in maintaining and repairing your vehicle.

Find out more about Whetzel’s Automotive:

Jim & Sally Wiseman
Retired, Still Hopes Community Residents

Jim and Sally Wiseman chose to retire at Still Hopes in West Columbia about three years ago after looking throughout the region. They decided the location was perfect. The Still Hopes facilities, along with the “proximity to everything”, including Lexington Medical Center, made West Columbia the perfect fit.
Their favorite thing about West Columbia is the West Columbia Riverwalk. You can find them dining at Terra on State Street or DeLucca’s Italian Grill on Sunset Boulevard.
Terra is known for its sweeping views of the city skyline, which guests enjoy from the dining room or patio. In the bar, the wood oven is especially busy on Wednesdays, for Terra’s popular Pizza & Pinot special. With a menu that changes daily with seasonal offerings, a carefully curated wine list, attentive wait staff, and a creative cocktail menu, they provide exceptional offerings and an experience to remember.
DeLucca’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria is an intimate Italian restaurant serving an assortment of Italian dishes and Pizza. They have something for everyone, from fresh veal to calzones, to fresh salmon or hand-tossed NY Style Pizza. They make everything in-house including fresh bread baked daily and pizza dough batches mixed every morning. They are known for their compound butter, with the most popular being fig butter.
As the only Episcopal-sponsored, non-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community in the greater Columbia area, Still Hopes is there during every step of your retirement. Located two minutes from downtown Columbia, their life plan community is comprised of beautiful apartments and free-standing cottages nestled on 44 wooded acres creating a relaxing environment for engaged and independent senior living.

Find out more:

Reverend Kenneth Taylor
Turner Memorial AME Church

Reverend Kenneth Taylor has served Turner Memorial AME Church for over fourteen years. He loves the sense of community in West Columbia that comes from the people. He says, “Everyone has a family attitude”.
Monday through Friday, Reverend Taylor feeds over 100 people daily who come to the church to get a hot meal. “My calling is to empower people.”
Reverend Taylor’s favorite things to do in West Columbia are to walk along the Riverwalk and dine in the local restaurants.
Turner Memorial AME in West Columbia, South Carolina is a Christian congregation serving the West Columbia community and encouraging others through a life-changing Christian journey. They seek to serve God by working for justice and peace, respect and learn from all the great faith traditions and desire to be known by the love we have for one another.

Dr. Cindye Richburg Cotton
Executive Director, Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center

Dr. Cindye Richburg Cotton’s favorite thing about West Columbia is the spirit of the people and the way they interact with each other. She says, “Their spirit and commitment to service and willingness to help, make West Columbia unique. West Columbia is quaint and family-oriented. You feel a sense of family and community in West Columbia.”
Dr. Cotton’s favorite thing to do in West Columbia is frequent the restaurants, attend Brookland Baptist Church, and shop in the locally owned shops. She has been the Director of the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center for three years.
The mission and goals of the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center are to engage and serve people of all ages and backgrounds while promoting advancements in education, health, and economics. It is also to improve the quality of life for citizens of Lexington and Richland Counties and the Midlands of South Carolina by offering socio-economic opportunities that will enrich the lives of senior citizens, providing a safe, inviting environment for seniors, adults, and youth to participate in physical and cultural activities that promote health and wellness. They also strive to recapture the historic significance of the Center and its important role in the community serving as a focal point of civic pride and cultivate collaborative relationships with community partners.

Find out more on the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center:

The Miles Family
West Columbia Family

The Miles Family chose West Columbia to put down roots, for its small-town feel and downtown proximity. Tem and his wife Cassie both worked in downtown Columbia at the time and fell in love with West Columbia for its close-knit atmosphere, where neighbors know each other; however, there are still plenty of activities and amenities that are typically found in a dense urban area. Tem, Cassie, and their three daughters love to go to the West Columbia Riverwalk. Their daughters’ favorite spot is Carraway Park. Emma loves the swings, and Cate and Charlotte love to climb on all the different equipment.
Tem and his wife Cassie recently opened their law firm, The Miles Firm, and reside in the Avenues in West Columbia.
The Miles Firm provides real help when needed. They are proud to seek justice on behalf of every client they serve. They are honored to lead their clients through the complex process of litigation and recovery. They work tirelessly to deliver justice to their clients in every case.
More on The Miles Family:

Joel Mathwig
West Columbia Resident

Joel Mathwig and his family chose to live in West Columbia for the ease of access to their jobs, dining, shopping, indoor and outdoor recreation, transportation options, health, and educational needs. This access along with the affordability of housing made living in West Columbia an easy decision for their young family.
The Mathwig’s favorite things about West Columbia are the burgeoning social scene in the River District and the exciting ways the City continues to find to integrate the Congaree and Saluda into everyday activities.
The West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater is part of the Three Rivers Greenway and runs along the west side of the Congaree River. It passes under two bridges and offers fantastic river views. Even in cold weather, this is a popular place for people to jog and walk dogs. Amenities include picnic tables, a riverside amphitheater, and a canoe launch bay. Free music concerts are held in the Amphitheater in the Spring and Summer months.
West Columbia is home to ten parks including the Interactive Art Park, Carraway Park at the Riverwalk, Douglas Reeves Community Park, Rosamunda Percell-Butler Community Park, Fowler Park, and more which include amenities ranging from baseball and soccer fields to interactive art pieces, playground equipment for children of all abilities, an outdoor concert venue, tennis courts, and bicycle repair stations.

Sabrina Leaphart
West Columbia Resident at the Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens

Sabrina Leaphart was born and raised in West Columbia. Although she has had many opportunities to move away, she chooses to stay in West Columbia because it is a great place to live, work, and play. She loves her neighbors and can’t imagine living anyplace else. She is fortunate to be able to say that her neighbors are also her friends. Sabrina facilitates the neighborhood watch program and can attest to the fact that her neighbors truly care about one another. When asked how she chose West Columbia, her first thought was “I didn’t choose WeCo, WeCo chose me.”
Choosing a favorite place to go in West Columbia is difficult for Sabrina. She loves running at the Riverwalk and going to the Cayce-West Columbia Library, but she says, “visiting the Gardens at Riverbanks Zoo has to be my favorite thing about living in WeCo.”
Sabrina works locally, as well. She is a librarian at an elementary school. She enjoys getting to know the students and families that live in the district serving West Columbia. The population is very diverse. She enjoys talking to people who have different skills, backgrounds, and experiences that make life fun and interesting.
And let’s not forget about playing! She says, “There is so much to do in WeCo. We enjoy the restaurants, parks, river, art spaces & live music, zoo, and the library.” A stroll through the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens is very therapeutic. There are also a lot of opportunities to attend programs at the zoo. She takes her grandchildren to summer zoo camps and has also taken advantage of virtual and in-person learning opportunities for herself. She has learned so much at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens over the years, so much so, that her backyard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. She says, “I don’t know if I would be so passionate about nature and wildlife if I had not grown up with the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in home town.
Her favorite thing about living in West Columbia is the people. She loves meeting new people and hearing their stories. The people she has met in and around West Columbia are genuinely kind and caring.

More information on the Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens:

Emma Carter
Musician & Local High School Student

Emma Carter is a student and musician. She enjoys coming to West Columbia for a sense of community. She says, “Everyone is kind and open to each other. WeCo is beautiful and interesting with the abundance of art appearing in the different parks.”
Around the age of 6, Emma began attending the West Columbia Christmas Tree Lighting. She remembers the fun she has had at those and the other city events over the years. Emma has been playing her music in the West Columbia Amphitheater and other events around the city for several years. Her favorite thing to do in West Columbia is to go to the Riverwalk, especially in the Summer. She remembers attending the Solar Eclipse Viewing party, “Solar Fest West”, as “an amazing experience.”
Emma Carter is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who loves writing and performing music about being unique in a world that wants you to blend in.
West Columbia is home to many free family-friendly festivals and events including Art on State, Fall Back Fest, Rhythm on the River Concert Series, an annual Christmas Tree Lighting, and Kinetic Derby Day. The Meeting Street Artisan Market is held every Saturday, from 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM, in the Interactive Art Park, hosting vendors selling handmade items such as pottery, paintings, carvings, and more.

More on Emma Carter:

Ed, Irene, & Eric Albritton
Owner & Family, Ed’s Editions

The Albritton’s opened their business in West Columbia in 2001 because they fell in love with the location on Meeting Street. It is a beautiful building in an area with other nice brick buildings supporting other small businesses. They love that West Columbia has a small-town feel but is right across the bridge from downtown Columbia. They stated, “We thought this area would develop nicely over time and it has and continues to do so.”
The area’s premier brick-and-mortar bookstore, Ed’s Editions provides several book-related services and offers a great atmosphere to peruse and find books of all sorts. Catering to the community and the collector, they have a wide variety of book options for the novice reader to the serious collector. Search or browse their online inventory of hard-to-find, out-of-print, used, and rare books, or browse the 30,000 books available in the shop. Open since 2001, they are South Carolina’s only ABAA/ILAB and ABA bookstore.

More on Ed’s Editions:

Tara Greenwood
& Anna Huffman
A visitor and resident shopping locally on State & Meeting Streets

Tara Greenwood and Anna Huffman are two colleagues who like shopping in the River District on State Street in West Columbia during their free time. They enjoy a delicious coffee from The Hideout in WECO and continue to shop at State Street Trading, Three Oaks Florist & Interiors, West Point Coin Shop, and other shops, picking up gifts along the way. They usually plan to go to the West Columbia Meeting Street Artisan Market on Saturdays, from 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM, in the Interactive Art Park, to support the local artisans, artists, and crafters.
Anna and Tara #HeadWest to gather with friends and family on the weekends as well to enjoy the locally-owned restaurants and breweries for dining and socializing in West Columbia at places like the Black Rooster, Terra, Savage Craft Ale Works, Al’s Upstairs, WECO Bottle & Biergarten, and Chayz Lounge.

More on the shops and restaurants:

Vanessa Mota
CEO, Mota Crosslinking Business Academy

Vanessa Mota has lived in West Columbia for over 20 years. She opened Mota Crosslinking Business Academy, 14 years ago, in Triangle City. She chose West Columbia for both home and business for its central location and the welcoming feeling she always received.
Her favorite thing about living and working in West Columbia is the people. Everyone knows each other and the population is very diverse, with people from all over the work including India, Central and South America, and Asia.
For a refreshing snack, Vanessa’s favorite spot is Manny’s Shaved Ice n’ Snacks for a healthy smoothie. To indulge, she enjoys Café Strudel for an award-winning meal with her friends and family.
Mota Crosslinking Business Academy is a connecting point for entrepreneurs. It appeals to the need to encourage diversity and inclusive programs in the city.
Manny’s Shaved Ice n’ Snacks provides shaved ice, smoothies, ice cream, milkshakes, fruit cocktails, chicharron preparado, corn in a cup and on the cob, and more to West Columbia and the surrounding areas.

More on Mota Business Academy, Manny’s Shaved Ice n’ Snacks, and Cafe Strudel:

Tamara Brown
Owner, Jak’s Essentials

Tamara Brown started her business, JAK’s Essentials, in May of 2020 in the middle of the pandemic.  She chose the location from her familiarity with the area and her connections with the community while managing another business nearby.
Tamara says, “The community and the City Officials made us feel welcomed and go above and beyond to help us succeed. It is through their support we powdered through this very tough time.”
Tamara loves to shop. One of her favorite places to go for creative and customized items, besides her own store, is Cherry’s Delight, on Center Street next to Savage Craft Ale Works.

When asked what she would tell other business owners about locating in West Columbia, Tamara said, “Being in West Columbia feels like you are all connected and the support is amazing. Between the community, the City, and the Chamber, you will definitely feel loved!!”

Jak’s Essentials provides an educated approach to product development and formulating. The vision is to create, educate, and expand the brand while helping others build their own through product development, formulation training, and cosmetic business strategy and planning.