Little Olivia Cavero eagerly grabbed for the straw sticking out of her mother's milkshake after she got a tiny taste of the cool, chocolatey treat Sunday afternoon.
The 11-month-old child was one of many smiling faces that have popped in to the new soda parlor in downtown Aiken. Betsy's on the Corner opened up about two weeks ago and has been a hit. Since it opened, a steady flow of customers have entered and exited the business, said owner Betsy Simons.
Dean and Shannon Cavero, along with their daughter Olivia, have been to the new eatery several times since it opened. Dean said he felt like an old-fashioned soda parlor was needed in Aiken, and he's been impressed by the service, as well as the renovations of the building. He said they enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere.
"We keep coming back because we're excited about the place," Dean said.
Simons is thrilled with how the new business has been received by residents. The restaurant is a vision straight from Simons' imagination and memories, and the vision became reality through Dream Builders of Aiken.
The building, which was last occupied by the restaurant Maxine's, was once a plain brick structure with the front mostly composed of glass windows and a door.
Now, the brick is painted a light sage color, and the facade has been filled with brick, leaving space for two windows, a single wooden door on one side and a set of double wooden doors on the other. The windows and doors are framed by a bright white border. A new, red metal awning has also been installed, replacing the old blue one that stood before.
The interior of the building now has a silver tin tied ceiling, new light fixtures and retro-styled seating.
"People are floored," Simons said about their reaction to the renovations. "Anybody who comes in here is amazed that this is the same place. Now seeing it, with people in it, seeing it with fresh eyes, I'm very pleased."
The menu includes burgers, hot dogs, fries, soups, salads and a variety of sandwiches. The breakfast menu offers waffles, cinnamon rolls, omelets and more.
A soda parlor wouldn't be complete without ice cream, banana splits, milkshakes and floats.
Simons said they try to make everything from scratch, and all meals are freshly prepared. She said she tries to use local produce and even picks mint, basil, parsley, thyme and rosemary growing from the restaurant's window boxes daily.
Simons said the community has been warm and welcoming to the new business.
"It's been amazing," she said. "I've gotten a lot of support, and the community has been so receptive."
Currently, breakfast is served around 8 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The grill closes at 3 p.m., but the soda fountain, which includes ice cream treats, is open until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday.
Simons said that schedule could change as the business progresses and she gets a feel for what her customers want.
Betsy's On the Corner is located at 159 Laurens St. N.W. and can be reached at 226-0078.
Amy Banton is the city beat reporter and has been with the Aiken Standard since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va., and a graduate of Randolph Macon Woman's College.