Downtown Women in Business
There are so many women who own businesses downtown and add to its glitter. I am sure to leave many out so I am focusing on some of the more vivid, visual stand-outs who are contributing to our overall economy.
Bonnie Ruben has to be the woman who has the longest history of continually being in business downtown. Rueben’s has been around for over 100 years. Bonnie has not been around that long of course, but her dedication is phenomenal and long withstanding. Her affection for Ruben’s will keep her going for many years to come. In addition to Ruben’s, Bonnie owns The Ramada Hotel and several other buildings downtown. Her father started Ruben’s Department Store, so retail and downtown are in Bonnie’s bloodline. If you want to see a real department store, shop at Ruben’s and enjoy the vintage dressing tables in the millinery department. Shoes, women’s dresses and accessories (yes, gloves!), men’s suits and children’s clothing are there for a shopping experience in the heart of downtown, just where it has been for over 100 years.
Bonnie purchased and has operated the Ramada Inn and other properties over the years and has withstood all the different changes and ups and downs of our downtown. Bonnie’s stories of downtown are fun, some serious, and always hopeful of seeing the continued growth and streets full as they were when she was a girl.
Lou Ann Hildebrandt also has a family legacy of history downtown. Owner and resident at Hildebrandt’s, Lou Ann is there taking care of her customers serving up their favorite deli sandwich, cutting and wrapping cheeses and cold cuts, and grilling up hamburgers. She is running her kitchen on auto pilot as it is such a part of her heritage. Lou Ann’s family has recently joined her in her quest to keep the eatery and store in good shape while preserving the atmosphere. The Hildebrant’s have been serving their Augusta friends since 1879. Go enjoy the atmosphere and nostalgia present throughout this historic establishment.
Oolee Bricker at Vintage Oolee will fit you up with a custom costume or vintage outfit from most any period. Oolee specializes in unique hats and jewelry. She, along with her husband, are also owners and residents of downtown. They are at so many of the downtown events and eateries, you are sure to converse with them in and out of the store at most any time. Vintage Oolee is a creation of Caren Bricker’s finds and compilations of rare clothing and costumes over the years. Some can be traced back to Fatman’s costumes from way back when. Go by and see what Oolee has in store for you. She is creating a new Queen’s crown for me. Who knows, I may even get some new eyelashes when I pick it up.
Our newest female entrepreneur is Elizabeth Sanderson has reopened the old Whistle Stop Café on the railroad track at 6th and Greene Street. The new name is Olde Town Diner. Elizabeth is the resident chef and chief bottle washer. She does it all! Her menu is based on farm to table ingredients and the local farmers are bringing her the goods. Elizabeth has her own mini garden and has plans to expand to grow a full garden adjoining the café. Elizabeth can truly do it all. Along with owner Fred Daitch and contractors, she has scrubbed, painted and done most of the renovations to the diner. The diner is open extended hours with breakfast and lunch being the main attractions.