River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen is headed to Main Street

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River Street Sweets - Savannah's Candy Kitchen will open this fall in the former YAP restaurant space at 12 S. Main St. | photo by Irina Rice

The former YAP restaurant space at 12 S. Main St. in downtown Greenville has a new tenant after the Ottaray Seafood & Raw Bar concept announced for the location in November 2017 didn’t pan out.

Instead, the first Upstate franchise of Savannah, Georgia-based River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen has signed on for the location next to Cantinflas. RealServ broker Philip Whisnant represented the landlord in the transaction, and Robbie Romeiser with Spencer/Hines Properties represented the tenant.

River Street Sweets originated in Savannah and is known for its pecan pralines, gelato, ice cream, chocolate treats, and old-fashioned candies. In 2014, River Street Sweets began to franchise under the merged brand name River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. In addition to the River Street, Habersham, and City Market locations in Savannah, the sweets shop now has 12 more stores in Charleston; Myrtle Beach; Atlanta; Nashville, Tennessee; and Maryland, with more on the way.

Longtime Greenville resident Lisa Warriner, the Greenville franchisee, says that after visiting the original Savannah location, she fell in love with it and wanted to bring it to Greenville. She’s never owned a franchise, but she plans to be the owner/operator when the shop opens in the fall.

The location with foot traffic trending north up Main Street out of Falls Park on the Reedy was ideal, Warriner says.

“Really wanted to be on Main Street in a high visibility area,” she says.

River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen joins other candy stores such as Kilwin’s, Mast General Store, and Le Petit Croissant on Main Street, but none are located within the same block.

Because the City of Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel does not meet in July, no work can begin on the exterior of the building until after the plans are approved by the panel when it meets Aug. 2.

Warriner says plans for the building include getting back to the original beauty and removing the current façade that blocks a lot of natural light.

“It has a cavelike feel right now. It feels dark,” Warriner says.

The former potential tenant, Ottaray Seafood & Raw Bar, was going to occupy both floors of the building, with the second story designated as an event space, but the sweets shop will occupy only the ground level. Part of the exterior renovation will include an entrance to the second floor, which is still available for lease.

Warriner says the interior will be built out based on the “already successful specifications” of the other locations. The original brick walls will be restored, and elegant wooden cabinetry will be installed. An open kitchen will be inside the front window, where customers and those walking along Main Street will be able to see the candymakers work and interact with them.

“People love going in these stores,” Warriner says. “They love the nostalgia.”

Warriner says she plans to hire 13 to 15 employees, including the candymakers and management, who will train in Savannah.

Planned hours of operation will be 10 or 11 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m. to capture the after-dinner crowd.

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