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Orange You Glad It's Summer   8 comments

Posted at 10:47 pm in commentary,out-of-area

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How do they even tell?

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Church's Chicken, 455 York Street Aiken: mid 2000s   7 comments

Posted at 10:26 pm in out-of-area,restaurants

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Well, there was some chatter on Have Your Say the other day about Church's Chicken, so I thought I would bring out these Church's pictures from Aiken. They were taken on a fairly recent visit this March, but I believe the restaurant has been vacant since before I left Aiken around 2005 or so. The place is on the stretch of US-1 (York Street) between I-20 exit 22 and downtown proper. Or perhaps you can consider Hampton Avenue to be the start of downtown (and Aiken's weird double streets). LoopNet says the building is in the city limits proper. (They also seem to be saying it can be reused, but the current state is a good bit more decrepit than the picture they use, and I have my doubts).

Written by ted on June 19th, 2014

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T-Bones Steakhouse & Saloon, 715 Pendergrass Avenue: 25 August 2013   2 comments

Posted at 1:41 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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T-Bones (no relation to Tbonz) was in Murrells Inlet on the US-17 bypass almost directly across the street from the old Rosa Linda's South.

I only ate at T-Bones once that I can recall, and that would have been not too many years after they opened in 1988. I had a burger, and it was pretty good.

I'm not sure why I never went back -- perhaps because there were closer options for burgers, and because I have a general list of favorites I try to hit when I'm at the beach. At any rate, though I didn't stop again, I often admired the best slogan on the beach as I was driving by, though I would have used a colon instead of a comma.

I noticed this weekend that the place was closed, and the realty sign suggested it was not an entirely voluntary state, which the article linked above confirms. Of course it would seem so far that closing it didn't actually help the bank that much..

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Written by ted on March 24th, 2014

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Blockbuster Video, 399 Silver Bluff Road (Aiken) : March 2012   28 comments

Posted at 11:20 pm in business,out-of-area

12 March 2012:

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11 March 2013:

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11 March 2014:

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I took an annual trip to Aiken last week, and was amazed at the amount of storm damage over there. I had though all the "worst tree kills since Hugo" headlines were a bit of hyperbole since I didn't see anything like that here in Columbia.

Not that that has anything to do with this post. While I was there I also noticed that the Blockbuster in the Bi-Lo parking lot on Silver Bluff Road is finally getting a new tenant. Given how many Blockbuster closings I've done here, I figured I might as well add this one too. (Eventually, I'll get the Litchfield Beach store as well).

Written by ted on March 16th, 2014

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Latte Litchfield, 13088 Ocean Highway: 14 December 2013   4 comments

Posted at 11:52 pm in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

As I headed for my morning coffee fix at the beach last December, I found myself rudely surprised as my go-to location, Latte Litchfield was closed.

The building itself has been there forever, but I cannot recall the last tenant. When I first became aware of the place, it was a Christian coffee shop. As far as I could tell, the only practical effect of this from a customer point of view (unless you opted to attend the gatherings listed on the bulletin board) was really pleasant baristas.

I'm not sure if the place changed hands or what, but gradually that aspect was dropped, and the Internet Cafe aspect came forward. During that period, I would often stop by to get my network fix, or to print work documents I had to deal with. As DSL and cable penetrated the area, I did less of that, and I think the same applied to others and the orientation shifted once again. Though the computers and wireless were still there, the place sort of shifted to being a working art gallery with various pieces on display and an artist occasionaly working on new ones.

For a long time, the cafe was connected through an interior archway to Eggs Up Grill and though they were run as separate businesses, you could drift out of breakfast at the one and into coffee and pastries at the other. When Eggs Up moved to the Litchfield Piggly Wiggly plaza, the archway was drywalled, and access to the new restaurant there was cut off. I suspect the Eggs Up move hurt business a good bit. Likewise (as is, I believe, gently hinted at in the closing notice), the plaza started bringing in other businesses that directly competed with Latte Litchfield. For instance, they served froyo as a sideline at one time, and the plaza brought in a separate froyo business right next door to them. Likewise for lunch items and a new restaurant two doors down.

I guess now I never will get the final punch on my free-cup card.

Written by ted on February 5th, 2014

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O'Kane's Irish Pub And Eatery, 318 Centre Street (Fernandina Beach): November 2013   6 comments

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Well, Happy New Year folks!

When I don't spend the New Year in SC, I like to ring it in in Fernandina Beach, my father's hometown. My own little mini-tradition dating back a decade or so was to hit O'Kane's Irish Pub on Centre Street for the live music and champagne toast at midnight. So, I was rudely surprised when I ambled down from the hotel New Years Eve, and found the storefront dark. The next day, I asked another merchant on Centre Street what had happened, and she indicated that she had heard the owners divorced then couldn't agree on handling the lease. Whatever happened, the place seems to have closed in November.

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Here is the place on New Years Eve/New Years Day 2012/2013:

In the event, I ended up next door at The Courtyard which was a smaller, a more sedate venue with an older crowd (ie: my age). I was quite impressed with the music though. Local artist Nora Ricci was performing, and she is quite good, with entertaining stage patter (very important for a small venue) as well as solid singing and playing:

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Written by ted on January 3rd, 2014

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Brookgreen Gardens Nights of 1000 Candles 2013, Brookgreen Gardens (grand strand): 21 December 2013   2 comments

Posted at 12:29 am in events,grand-strand,out-of-area,venue

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"Some Pig!"

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This years' was the warmest Nights of 1000 Candles I've ever been to. In past years, there have been times when I have been so cold that I couldn't feel the buttons on the camera, but this year was not just mild: We're talking bikini weather here (though even so attired, you would still have on more clothes than most of the statuary..).

In years past, I have either taken a tripod (now disallowed) or set the camera on something for long time exposures. This year, I just cranked the ISO up to 16000, 32000 and sometimes 64000 to see how things would come out. Obviously the results aren't as pristine as some in the past, but despite all the high-ISO noise, I think you get the general spirit. If you've never gone, well, it's too late for this year, but you should make some plans for next.

Written by ted on December 23rd, 2013

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Piggly Wiggly, 115 Willbrook Boulevard Pawleys Island(*): 9 November 2013   8 comments

Posted at 12:45 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,stores

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Well, just to continue our ongoing list of Pig closings, the store in Litchfield Beach is now gone.

This was a fairly new store, and quite nice. It also seemed to always do quite a good business as far as I could tell.

The store is located in a plaza just across US-17 from the main Litchfield resort area (with the old Tara Theater) and has a number of restaurants and a few retail operations. There has been some churn during the financial crisis, and Blockbuster, a computer store and a couple of others have gone, but Massey's Pizza and Eggs Up have moved in, so on the whole it is doing OK. Physically the site is quite nice, with moss draped live-oaks and stop-light access.

The Pig will be re-opening as a Bi-Lo, and I have to think that this will mean moving the Bi-Lo from a few blocks north into this spot. Currently the Bi-Lo (originally built as a Harris Teeter) is in an older, failing plaza, which has recently seen the only other decent store (Litchfield Books) decamp to the new Fresh Market complex.

All of this movement takes place in the total revamping of the local grocery environment. Along with the newly opened and afore-mentioned Fresh Market, the Grand Strand's first Publix will be opening in the currently dowdy Pawleys Island Plaza, and a Lowe's Foods will be opening in a new plaza at the Island's South Causeway. This has to be putting a good deal of pressure on Food Lion which has been running a rather up-scale location also at the South Causeway.

(*) All the online google hits list this location as Pawleys Island. In my mind that is clearly wrong. This is Litchfield Beach, plain and simple. Somehow the area covered by the Pawleys Island moniker has tended to spread as "Arrogantly Shabby" has become "upscale" and gained a bit of cachet.

Written by ted on December 6th, 2013

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Not 'Mane', At Least   4 comments

Posted at 2:39 am in commentary,grand-strand,out-of-area

"Captain! The main lobsters are down!"

"Then deploy the.. impulse lobsters!

Written by ted on November 16th, 2013

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Carolina Renaissance Festival, Huntersville North Carolina: 2 & 3 November 2013   5 comments

I'd heard the radio ads for the Carolina Renaissance Festival for years, but somehow never got around to going until the start of November. For one thing, I wasn't quite sure where Huntersville was (answer: just north of Charlotte), for another I didn't know if there would be enough there to be worth a weekend.

In the event, I was quite pleasantly surprised. The place is a couple of miles east of I-77 and has an interesting air of semi-permanence about it. The parking lot is obviously a pasture or some such non-graded space, and the buildings are all open to the air with porta-johns providing the facilities, but yet they are permanent structures, and the festival is now in its 20th year.

The crowd is an interesting mix. There are the standard parents-with-kids families out for a day of face painting and low-tech carnival rides, then there are the Society For Creative Anachronism types, the "healing crystals" and New Age crowd and the Celts and fairies crowd. One comic storyteller commented that there was a lot of crossover with engineering and science-fiction fandom types (and indeed SCA is strongly correlated with SF fandom..) such that he could tell Rene Descartes jokes ("Rene Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender asks him if he wants a beer. 'I think not', says Descartes and vanishes..")

The show people were great. Everyone had a line of patter to draw in a crowd (the fire eater: "I'm not that good. Come watch me, I might hurt myself!"), and kept up rapid fire comedy bits while swallowing swords ("You can only swallow a sharp sword once!"), walking the tightrope, abusing the peasants or juggling.

It was also a "something for all ages" event. As I mentioned there were plenty of kid friendly activities, but there was also a bit of a bawdy side for the grownups at events labeled LC ("loose cannon").

Here's a few videos.

From the sublime:

To the freaky:

To the dangerous:

To the NSFW:

And the even less SFW:

The Fair runs weekends through the rest of November.

Lots more after the jump.

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Written by ted on November 13th, 2013

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