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Archive for May, 2008

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), 3100 Two Notch Road near Beltline Blvd: mid 2000s   no comments

Posted at 12:51 pm in historic,stores

As perhaps some of you may have guessed if you have read many of these posts, I have rather odd tastes. In particular, I don't like chicken, or even the smell of chicken at all. My visits to KFC over the years have been very few.

The last time I stopped by a KFC was in an Interstate "any port in a storm" situation where I just desperately needed something to drink. There was a line at the drive-through, so I went inside, and was releived to see tea urns on the drink machine counter. I ordered and took my cup over only to find that they were fake urns. They were deliberately designed to look like fresh-brew tea urns, but were in fact connected to a fountain dispensing pressurized, undrinkable Nestea!

Of course, that has nothing to do with this KFC (near the intersection of Two Notch & Beltline) other than putting me even more off on stopping by than I would otherwise have been. It does sort-of explain why I hadn't noticed that this store was closed, despite it having been long enough for the front "awning" to have started falling apart.

Which makes it difficult to understand how the plants inside are still alive :-)

UPDATE 3 Oct 2008:

Well, it's open as a Titlemax now, and it looks like they ask for a lot of collateral!

UPDATE 7 Jan 2010: Add full street address and KFC abbreviation to post title.

Written by ted on May 20th, 2008

Lourie's On Main: 30 June 2008   9 comments

Posted at 4:18 pm in stores

I was driving down Main Street the other day, and noticed that Lourie's was closing. I suppose that if I actually read the paper I would already have known that 30 June is the last day for this venerable institution.

Of course, I suppose it's a little dishonest for me to describe it that way, since that ascribes to me a sentiment I don't really feel. The truth is that back when we actually shopped on Main Street (the 60s up until the mid-70s), I hate-hate-hated shopping for clothes, and I'm sure I made all those trips a very unpleasant chore for my mother. In my eyes, Penny's & Belts/Belks at least had some stuff other than clothes (Penny's had Boy Scout items, some electronics and a candy counter, Belks had book racks) while Louries seemed to be all clothes.

Still, if I'm not devastated to see Lourie's go, I am a bit sad. Main street used to have so much retail, some of it even places a kid would like (Kress and the movie theaters come to mind..) and it's all gone now. On the other hand, on the Lourie's corner, you can see some of the pathologies that have driven people away, even apart from having places closer to where we live with lots of parking. After turning off Assembly, in fact, I saw enough that I was a bit nervous getting out to take these pictures.

By the way, does anyone else think the display window with the bicycle and bare butts is a bit odd?

Written by ted on May 19th, 2008

Hi Line Imports, 5001 Two Notch Road: 2000s   2 comments

Posted at 6:26 pm in historic,stores

Here's an imposing looking place. It may not have beaten any other dealerships on size, but the building itself puts on a great front with the massive black columns -- It's The Parthenon of Columbia showrooms. (It's a bit less impressive from the back however..)

I'm not sure exactly what happened here. The sign in the door reads Closed Due To Relocation to Atlanta, but closing signs often (more often than not, I suspect) fail to tell the whole story, if they are not outright lies. For a Columbia business, relocating to Atlanta is like relocating to Mars, except for the part about Mars being an underserved market.

Whatever happened, it happened quickly enough that they didn't bother to settle with Pepsi and have the machine picked up or pack the car display racks, and recently enough that all the tinsel hasn't blown down from the parking-lot display.

UPDATE 30 April 2009:

It's open again as Global Automotive

UPDATE 26 July 2010: Added full street address to post title.

Written by ted on May 18th, 2008

Mediterranean Chicken Palace, 224 O'Neil Court (The Shops at O'Neil Court): 2008   9 comments

Posted at 3:33 pm in restaurants

Well, that didn't last long.

The Mediterranean Chicken Palace was in The Shops at O'Neil Court, which is behind the Two Notch Road K-Mart on (logically) O'Neil Court. O'Neil Court connects traffic coming out of Columbia Mall with Two Notch and Trenholm Road, and so seems like it would be a good site for businesses relying on drive-by shoppers, but historically that seems not to be the case for some reason. The Shops at O'Neil plaza, while not dying, has never been robust, and businesses there tend to come and go. The most notable businesses there that I can recall were a sports bar by the owners of Very's (who should be experts at making a go of a marginal location) and a North-East branch of Capitol Newsstand (which,to be fair, has had trouble at all its locations in recent years).

The location acroos the street from The Shops has been marginal too. It's a pretty large building which was once some sort of "Texas Roadhouse" place, but I think a number of concepts came before that, and currently it is a struggling bingo operation after being empty for several years.

Anyway, the Mediterranean Chicken Palace is another entry on that long list of restaurants that went out of business before I got around to trying them. I looked at the menu they had on the door before they opened, and it didn't look bad. They had some Middle-Eastern dishes that I like, such as Tabouli and, I believe, Falaffel, which you can't get on that side of town. The only reason I never got around to it is that I was afraid that, given the name, the whole place might smell too much like chicken, which I don't like at all. My sense of time is not that great, but I think they lasted less than a year. Too bad.

UPDATE 31 March 2010: Added full street address to post title.

Written by ted on May 16th, 2008

Softek, Parkland Plaza Cayce: early 2000s   12 comments

Posted at 12:42 pm in stores

Columbia has had more going on in the tech sector than you might expect. Back in the early 1980s, NCR in West Columbia was making a well regarding line of Unix mini-computers called the "NCR Tower" (because of the thin & high deskside profile). Of course at that point, AT&T, flailing around after losing the long distance monopoly, bought NCR, didn't have a clue what to do with it, and ran it into the ground.

Sometime later, in the early 90s after the PC revolution was well underway, a Columbia company called, if I recall correctly, Wells American made a name for itself making IBM PC compatibles which were completely modular, even the CPU was on a plug in card, and upgrading the processor was a simple card swap. Unfortunately (for them), at that point, generic motherboards became the big thing and were able to way undercut what Wells was doing with its custom parts, driving the firm under.

One business that lasted a bit longer was Softek.

I first became aware of Softek when I needed a dumb terminal and modem. I was working as a graduate assistant at USC (in a better office than anything I ever have had in the private sector though the pay was, um, nominal), and my office had an RS-232 connection to a Unix minicomputer, and a number of phone jacks, so the idea I got was that I could hitch one of the department modems up in my office, hitch a dumb terminal and modem up at home and then do work on the computer from home, ie telecommuting before that was really a word. I asked around and one of the guys told me of a store on Main Street that could sell me the equipment, and I walked over there from campus to check it out. That was Softek. Their store was on the East side of Main, somewhere near where Rising High was, I think. The staff was friendly and I had no problem finding what I needed. In the event I ended up with a Liberty Freedom-100 green-on-black terminal, and a US Robotics 1200 baud modem, both of which I still have (though I'm pretty sure the terminal is non-compos-mentis at this point). My telecommute plan worked out well, except for the part where I hitched the modem to an "unused" phone jack that was actually the department head's line.

As I became immersed in computers, I quickly fell in love with text processing tools, and came to view typewriters with great alarm. When my sister decided to make a serious bid at writing, I decided that she had to have a word processor, and made another trip to Softek. This time I ended up with a "Leading Edge Model-D", one of the first IBM PC Compatible computers, the "NewWord" word processing program (I had initally wanted to go with WordStar, but the Softek staff explained to me that all the WordStar developers had quit and gone to found NewWord), and a Brother daisy-wheel (remember those?) printer. This worked out well, and my sister was able to use it for quite a number of years before moving to an iMac. (I have the Leading Edge, and it still worked last time I booted it).

Thus emboldened, I also got a Leading Edge from Softek for my father a few years later, though he never really got the hang of it.

When that second Leading Edge bit the dust (power surge, I think) I went back to Softek to replace it, but found that they had moved from Main Street across the bridge to Parkland Plaza in Cayce. They had quite a bit more space there, and were running a sizable repair operation as well as selling equipment. In the few years since my last visit, they had also moved from selling other brand computers to building their own. They were now a white-box operation: You would tell them the specs of what you wanted, and they would put it together from generic parts and slap their brand sticker on the front. My understanding was that they had a profitable contract, or contracts with some State agencies to supply computers with local support.

After that final purchase from them, I kind of lost track again, and didn't check them out until I was back in Columbia for some reason and needed a cable or some sort of part. I went out to Cayce, but Softek was gone. Some googling around established that they still had a (minimal) web site where they promised they could build you a computer, but it seemed like a one-guy operation. (That web site now seems to be gone). I have no idea what happened, but if I had to speculate, I'd think that when Dell and others went to the "build-to-spec" model and added on-site support firms like Softek probably lost a lot of State business. That's just a guess though.

At any rate, from the signs on the door, the successor business in the Parkland Plaza location has moved on as well.

Written by ted on May 15th, 2008

Northeast Trophies, $2.50 Cleaners, Salon de la Lune, Forest Drive: May 2008   11 comments

Posted at 1:54 pm in stores

Well, I don't know exactly what's going on here, but something's definitely happening!

This is the lot between Goodyear auto service and The Columbia Athletic Club on Forest Drive, across from The Happy Bookseller. Originally, or perhaps not originally, but before this at any rate, the lot held one of Columbia's three Quincy's Family Steakhouse locations. After Quincy's closed, they tore down half the building to make room for Goodyear, and converted the other half for the trophy store and other businesses, none of which I ever shopped at. Now the old Quincy's building has been completely knocked down, and they are digging a whopping big hole on the property. Of course, as with almost all construction projects where you are interested in the final result, there is no signage indicating what is going to go in there.

The marquee sign also lists "Woodfield's Barber & Beauty", but it appears to me that that may actually be located inside the Columbia Athletic Club building and still a going concern.

Update 29 May 2008: It's going to be an AAA "Super Center".

Update 12 Sep 2008:

The $2.50 Cleaners moved to the strip mall opposite Bruegger's Bagels:

However, they didn't last long, perhaps because they moved next door to a cleaner which was already established at that location:

UPDATE 4 March 2010 -- Nope, I was wrong, they must have just been consolidating and adjusting signage. The $2.50 Cleaners is still there:

Salon De La Lune moved to a Forest Drive location directly opposite Falcon Drive (the A.C. Flora street):

Northeast Trophies moved down Forest Drive to more or less opposite the movie theater and Golden Corral:

Written by ted on May 13th, 2008

Gamecock Theater, Parkland Plaza Cayce: 1990s   14 comments

Posted at 11:57 pm in historic,stores

Parkland Plaza is on Knox Abbot Drive just across the bridge from USC (and now, though not then, The State Museum). It's an interesting retail venue, neither thriving, nor totally down on its luck. Over the years lots of businesses have come and gone. Probably the most significant of these was Parkland Pharmacy, which was an old-fashioned rural style drug/general/we-do-everything store which also housed a contract post-office with a wall full of PO Boxes. It eventually sold out and a CVS now occupies the spot.

The other significant business, or significant to me at any rate, was the Gamecock Theater. The Gamecock was on the East side of the plaza and was always a rather small operation rather than anything with pretensions to being a "Movie House". At some point, even the rather limited original space was partitioned, and the place became a duplex with the name becoming, if I recall correctly, The Gamecock Twin Cinemas or something to that effect.

Since The Gamecock was on the other side of town from where I grew up, we only saw a couple of movies there when I was a kid, and I can't recall now what they were. However, when I was in college, it was fairly accessible from The Towers, where I was living. Of course, the Russell House was even closer, and while the theater there was in its glory days, I sometimes saw 4 movies a week there, but those were all classics and The Gamecock was first-run. At various times, a group of us would find a car and go over, but I can clearly recall only two movies that I saw there during college.

The first was The Seduction, a 1982 flick starring Morgan Fairchild. At the time, Morgain Fairchild was in a very popular TV series, which I never saw, and the name of which I forget. I was aware that she was the show's sex symbol and when my roomate and I saw that she had her first big screen outing and that it was rated 'R', we figured (especially given the title!) that there was a good chance that she would not be over-burdened with clothes, and that seemed like a sufficient reason to scrape up the bucks and transportation.

Well, that was true -- in fact several times she was not-overburdened to the point of not being burdened at all, but while that was nice (very nice actually) we gradually became aware, as we looked at each other with incredulity from time to time, that this was an awful movie. Not, "well, it really wasn't that good" awful, but "did they really shoot that whole scene with the boom mike clearly in view?" awful. It was something of a trifecta in fact: Bad writing, bad acting and bad production values. I still don't understand how Fairchild couldn't leverage her small-screen popularity into a decent vehicle. I mean, it's not like she couldn't take her clothes off in a movie with a competent crew and a script that at least made sense!

The final movie I saw at The Gamecock was Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold. This was in 1984, and if I recall the timing correctly, I had just finished final exams and was exhausted and wanting a fun popcorn flick. The whole ad campaign for Yellow Hair, inasmuch as it had one, was to position it as a low budget "Indiana Jones" type movie, which was fine by me. As it turned out, the campaign had little to nothing to do with the movie, which was really (as comments on IMDB suggest) a late Spaghetti Western. The titular character "Yellow Hair" was a blond Indian "half-breed" and the rickety plot reached its climax with her finding out that her parents had loved one another (rather than her being a child of rape as she had been led to believe). Along the way, she had some Zorro-ish adventures (Disney Zorro-ish), but really not the non-stop cheesy action the posters implied. I was let down, but this movie was a first for me in a way -- it was the first time I was the only person in a theater! That's happened several times since and sometimes for good movies, but I distinctly remember thinking "Not a good sign!"

With graduation, I took a job out of town and kind of lost track of the Gamecock for a while. The next time I became aware of it, I found that it had closed, had been sold, and was operating as an "Antique Mall". That's the ReSale ReVue you can see in the pictures. As such things go, it was OK (I think I bought an old phone there), but with several very large Antique Malls in the Vista, and one just down the street, I suppose they really couldn't make a go of it. Now the space is empty, and I can't think of any theaters at all in West Columbia or Cayce.

UPDATE 12 September 2009: Added an ad for The Gamecock Theater from the 15 April 1973 State newspaper.

Written by ted on May 12th, 2008

The Impulse Club, 5100 Two Notch Road: mid 2000s   5 comments

Posted at 5:38 pm in historic,stores

The Impulse Club was a small private club on Two Notch Road, just past Food Lion, and behind the This Is It! lingerie store. It's set well back from the road, and I always imagined it as a rather laid back little nightclub, though that's pure conjecture on my part as I have never set foot inside.

I noticed some while ago that it seemed to be closed, and finally got around to taking some pictures on one of the warmer days we have had recently. When I got to the front door, and felt the cool breeze coming out the (missing) view panel, I thought at first that the AC was still running inside and that I was mistaken about the club being closed. A closer look established that it was just the lingering cool of an enclosed space which hadn't fully warmed to the outside temperature.

Through that front panel, I was able to see that the club had some nice wood fixtures and stick my camera through to get a little idea what was in the bar area and the left side of the club. I don't have any idea why the place closed down, but the sign over the bar implies that some of the patrons, at least, were trying to take advantage of the management's good nature.

UPDATE 29 April 2010: Add full street address to post title.

Written by ted on May 9th, 2008

Key West Grill, 1736 Bush River Road (at I-20): early 2000s   14 comments

Posted at 6:37 pm in historic,restaurants

The Key West Grill is another entry on the list of restaurants I meant to eventually get around to, but in the event never did. In this particular case, since "Key West" is an island, I figured that the menu would be largely seafood, something which I don't eat at all, so I wasn't chomping-at-the-bit to go there and order the token burger or whatever the landlubber fare was. Since I never did, it's of course possible that I was wholly mistaken about the cusine. Taking the pictures above, I was impressed with the building, which seems as though it would have had a very nice dining ambience.

At any rate, Key West always seemed to have a fair number of cars in the lot, so I was somewhat surprised when they closed up shop. It's still a fairly good corner for restaurants though: I like both Fudruckers and El Chico which are across the street and next door respectively.

I do think at this point enough years have passed that Coca-cola probably ought to accept the fact that they aren't getting their equipment back.

UPDATE 3 November 2011:

Well the building is going down hill a little bit, or at least has started to be a target for "tagging". From the view through the front door, it appears that some work took place at some point, as ceiling insulation is all over and most of the ceiling tiles are missing (and the murals look like they were nice). Coke still hasn't gotten their equipment -- I'll bet it's not worth having by now, and the front door has that ubiquitious sign of non-occupation: unclaimed phonebooks.

On the plus side, the Piracantha bushes are doing really well.

Looking at he pictures below, you can tell immediately that the "feel" of photos from Closing-Cam 1.0 (above) and Closing-Cam 2.0 is completely different.

(Also added the full street address and tags).

UPDATE 5 November 2011 Added full 24 September 2011 photoset.

Photoset 24 September 2011

Written by ted on May 8th, 2008

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gas station / The Filling Station / Columbia Bread And Bagel / Tiffany's Bakery, 2864 Devine Street: 2008   25 comments

Posted at 6:04 pm in restaurants

I was driving down Divine Street the other day after eating at Yo Burrito, and noticed that Tiffany's Bakery has closed. I had never been in this place -- The one time I stopped it was closed though it seemed to me a reasonable hour to be open. I believe there is another location on Two Notch not too far from I-77, but I have never stopped there either.

UPDATE 3 Jan 2010: Added full street address to post title

UPDATE 25 March 2011: Added some new names to the post title based on the comments about Conrad's.

Written by ted on May 7th, 2008

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