Historic hotel ownership changes

Geoff and Shannon Ellis, who opened The Restaurant at The Willcox in November, now own the historic hotel.

The couple recently purchased the stately Colleton Avenue property from The Garrett Hotel Group, which had owned the hotel since 2000. Specific details on the sale have not been released.

The Ellises saw the restaurant nestled in the rear of the lobby as a great way to reach out to the Aiken community, and now they say they can have even more of an impact.

“The Willcox is a piece of history, and it’s such a beautiful property,” Geoff said. “We wanted to open the restaurant because we loved The Willcox, and now that we have control of it all, we want to integrate it more into the community.”

The couple had an inkling that they would buy the hotel from The Garrett Hotel Group when they arrived in Aiken but had no idea it would happen so quickly. Shannon said they were thinking the deal would come in five years or so.

“But there was always a hope, a wish there,” Geoff said. “This is kind of a dream come true.”

Geoff grew up in Aiken and has fond memories of the hotel, especially sneaking peeks at the pub when he was a teenager even though he wasn’t allowed in there.

Willcox’s, as it was originally named, was a mainstay of Aiken’s Winter Colony. It was operated from 1898 to 1957 by members of the Willcox family.

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