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Archive for September, 2008

AMF Bowling Center, 2601 Broad River Road: 2000s   20 comments

Posted at 11:51 pm in stores

I have bowled, I believe, four times. The first time, I had beginner's luck, the other times -- not so much. I have the impression that this alley, on Broad River Road not too far from Briarsgate, has changed hands a couple of times over the years I've been driving by it, an impression reinforced by the repainted look of the No Loitering sign. I'm pretty sure it was a going concern until fairly recently -- the plants inside are still OK, right?

As with many places, I have no idea what happened here. It seems to me that bowling used to be a good bit more popular when I was a kid -- it was often on TV on weekends, and you could send in cereal box-tops for free admission to alleys, but given that there are so many channels now it could just be that I don't run across it as much (and I don't eat cereal anymore either..). I believe that the Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone used the decline of bowling teams as a metaphor for what he thought was wrong with American society in the 90s, but I don't believe that was meant to imply the sport as a whole was on the way out, just the social/team aspect of it. I didn't notice any for sale signs on the property, so I'm not sure what the outlook for it is.

Written by ted on September 30th, 2008

Chung King Restaurant, 20 Diamond Lane (Intersection Center): 1990s   7 comments

Posted at 11:38 pm in historic,restaurants

I like to take pictures in the afternoon, because it seems to me the light is best then (leaving aside the fact that I rarely get my act together before 1 or 2pm anyway if I don't have to..), and so since I happened to be out in the Intersection Center area one Saturday afternoon recently, I decided to walk the whole place and take a bunch of pictures. I think I've already used some, and others will show up from time to time.

This former Chinese restaurant really caught my eye because of the life-sized cut-out figure still affixed to the front wall. I wouldn't call it fine art, but someone put a good bit of work into it once upon a time and it's a shame that it will probably go under the wrecking ball sooner or later. I was going to get a lot closer to the building and do my standard trying to look into the doors etc, but as I turned the corner, I saw a Highway Patrol car sitting beside the next defunct business. I believe there was a major drunk driving crackdown on at the time, and I suppose they were watching Broad River for people they could pull. I know I wasn't doing anything wrong, and I know the Highway Patrol could care less about most non-car related shenanigans, but it made me a bit nervous, so I made sure to flourish the camera very ostentatiously, and tried to look very much like I was not "casing the joint"...

I don't know what happened to Chung King. I think a lot of Chinese restaurants are family run and operate on a shoestring. Perhaps the place put the kids through college and it was time for mom & pop to retire. Perhaps being in a dying strip mall meant there was too little drive by traffic. To me it seems like the place has been closed forever, so I'm saying 1990s in the tag line, but apparently it was open recently enough that one of the online restaurant sites thought it was worth entering in their database -- something that does not give me a great deal of confidence in the rest of their listings!

Written by ted on September 29th, 2008

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The Santorini Grill, 4525 Hardscrabble Road: September 2008   16 comments

Posted at 10:23 pm in restaurants

I only ate at The Santorini Grill once, about two or three years ago, I guess. I believe that the place had just been written up either in The State or The Free Times, and had gotten a pretty good review. After that, I meant to get out there several times, but the location, on Hardscrabble Road, just made it very difficult to do from Forest Acres. You had to take either I-20 or Two Notch to Clemson Road, and then go through a bunch of lights and it was just too much to make it a habbit. That said, the time I did get there, it was quite good. Their now-zombie site has a partial menu (it seems to be missing the "Greek" and "Dessert" pages):

I can't quite recall what I had, but it was probably either Spanakopita if I was going "Greek", or Lasagna.

I know I had trouble getting out there, but given how much the area has grown in the last few years, I would have thought that the place could have made it on the population that lives out there now. I don't know what happened -- perhaps Santorini was simply too upscale.

I see that it will become a pizza place. I wish them luck, but there was a "fancy" pizza place in the previous block of Hardscrabble (where Computer Renaissance is) and it lasted only a few months before going under (the space is some sort of Asian place now).

I like the Santorini building quite a bit. It's a nice structure, and I am partial to Lantana. It's a bit disappointing to see it from the rear and realize the nice smooth top lines are provided by false walls, but you really do need all that stuff on top of a restaurant, so there's not much else you can do. This final picture is from their zombie web-site. Normally I don't do that, but I guess in this case it's pretty moot. I include it because I like neon, and didn't get a chance to take any of my own pictures with the place lit up.

Thanks to commenter "Elizabeth" for the heads up that this place was gone!

UPDATE 9 June 2009: Well, apparently the North East Pizza Palace idea didn't pan out -- It's now another San Jose

Written by ted on September 28th, 2008

Ashley Furniture Homestore, 226 Forum Drive (Village at Sandhill): September 2008 (ownership)   20 comments

Posted at 11:40 pm in stores

OK, I'm not entirely sure what happened here (housing market crash related perhaps?), but it has the earmarks of being a big mess both for customers and the new owners, who have apparently put themselves in the unenviable position of running a store under the same name while having to explain to customers how they have no connection with the previous owners nor any responsibility to make customers whole vis-a-vis their dealings with same. I give them points for apparently making a good faith effort in that regard though. And where does this other company TRS fit into the picture?

I believe this is the third store on the highly visible left-front side of Sandhills to have something bad happen to it after The Atlanta Bread Company and Sofa Express.

UPDATE:

On the night of Saturday 25 Oct 2008 on my way back from Red Robin, I saw a new sign on Ashley. It was an official notice from the Sherrif or a Magistrate to the effect that Ashley either had to pay their rent or show cause why they shouldn't be evicted. I didn't have my camera with me, and on Sunday the 26th, it was gone

UPDATE 12 April 2010: Added full street address to post title.

UPDATE 21 May 2010 -- Apparently this place will become a Gold's Gym. I had previously reported that the Gold's would be going into the neighboring former Sofa Express location, but that seems to be a temporary presale operation only, with the actual gym going here:

UPDATE 14 July 2010: The Gold's Gym setup is done, and the temporary gym/presale in the old Sofa Express building is closed, with the new gym now running in this building.

Written by ted on September 27th, 2008

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Food Lion #1391, 2901 Two Notch Road: 1997   12 comments

Posted at 4:30 pm in historic,stores

Google is a wonderful thing. I had been noticing this lot ever since I moved back to town, and I felt like I should remember what it was, but I never quite could. I had in my mind that it had been a car dealership, and that may have been correct, given what's left inside now, but the architecture didn't look right for that as a first use.

Plugging the (very visible) street address into Google though reveals that it started life as a Food Lion. In fact, we can find out that it was buit in 1978, has 22,056 square feet available on a 2.34 acre lot, and can be all yours for $900,000.. I can even now tell you that the latitude & longitude for the place are 34.034074 & -81.004620!

I also find that as a Food Lion, the store had followed a practice I dislike: getting it's Deli department into local restaurant listings. I feel the same way about groceries that use their deli to get onto the Interstate "Dining" exit signs.

I don't know exactly what happened to this Food Lion. I know that in the 80s, one of the network news magazine shows did a hit piece on Food Lion that hurt them quite a bit at the time. Perhaps that had an impact here. Perhaps they were planning the new store down Two Notch towards Pinestraw even then. In general I find Food Lions of this era to be a bit dingy and downmarket. Their newer stores are quite nice however -- the one at the South Causeway at Pawleys Island is excellent and even has Virgil's Root Beer. And here's a tip: Almost all Food Lion's have regularly cleaned, nice bathrooms in the left rear corner of the store -- good to know driving in a strange area!

It was drizzling while I took these shots, and the closing-cam works much better in bright sunshine, so the lot and building are not as depressing as they look here.

UPDATE 9 March 2011: Updated the closing date to 1997 based on the comments.

Written by ted on September 26th, 2008

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Corma's, Inc. Health Food, Trenholm Plaza: Sep 2008 (moved)   3 comments

Posted at 5:21 pm in stores

I believe that over the years, I was only in Corma's once, to get some barley malt syrup for a bagel recipie. They had it, and I was saved a trip over to the Rosewood Market. What with the ongoing renovations to Trenholm Plaza, if you want that syrup, or some Flower Essences, you need to head towards the Fort a block or so and check them out in their new location, the site of the old Wally & Crumb cookie store next to Ed Robinson Laundry and Cleaners.

Written by ted on September 25th, 2008

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Touch of Joy Beauty & Nail/Unknown Motel, Two Notch Road: September 2008   4 comments

Posted at 10:04 pm in stores

I had noticed this salon off and on for a number of years. It was what I took to be an office strip mall on Two Notch Road near Very's and across the road from Dentsville Baptist Church. I noticed earlier this month that it had closed up, but when I stopped to take some pictures of it, I found that the "strip mall", Dentsville Office Mall was actually more interesting.

I had never realized it, but it's obvious once you go back into the parking lot for the place that it used to be one of the many US 1 roadside motels in Columbia. The old guest rooms form a "U" shaped court with a two story Office/Lobby in the center. I don't know what it was called as a motel, or exactly when it closed, but you can tell from a couple of these shots something that was confirmed by a gentleman who came out to chat with me: The grassy plot in front is actually the former swimming pool area. Once you know it was a motel, even the main sign looks like it's a 50s design with the panels relabeled.

As you can also see here, some of the guest rooms behind Touch of Joy have been fire damaged in recent years, and the plan is apparently to convert them into a number of self-storage units rather than try to restore the old hotel electrical and plumbing in that area. The rest of the mall seems to be "destination" businesses which don't rely on high street visibility: A tax service, a dental lab and and an alteration shop. It's a nice little bit of history I never noticed before.

Written by ted on September 24th, 2008

Zorba's, 10056 Two Notch Road at Wal-Mart: Holidays 2007   12 comments

Posted at 10:52 pm in restaurants

Well, here's another one I managed to miss for a good while. I did a closing for Zorba's on Decker Boulevard a while back, but this one took me by surprise.

To be honest, I only ate at this Zorba's (which was not under the same ownership as the Decker Zorba's) once, last Fall. A cousin who knew I enjoyed eating at the Decker restaurant was coming to town with her kids to do some shopping, and suggested we have dinner at the Decker place. By that time, it was only open for lunch, and I knew she was going to be hitting Circuit City, so I suggested the Two Notch Zorba's.

Going in, I got the vibe of a place in trouble. Not really anything I could put my finger on at first, but on the way over, I had been getting in the mood for some Spanakopita, and when we got our menus, I saw that there wasn't a single Greek dish listed. For a Greek/Italian restaurant, the total absence of the Greek half seemed like it was probably a recent development, and not a good one. To be clear, the food I ended up ordering was perfectly acceptable -- the choices were just not what one would expect from a restaurant called Zorba's.

When I was out getting a video card at Office Depot a while back, I saw that the place had closed. Judging from the holiday snowflakes still hung in the windows, I'm guessing they probably didn't reopen after Christmas. The window note suggests that at one time the owners were considering options for the building, but the realty sign out front implies that nothing materialized. I'm not sure there is now anwhere closer to Forest Acres than Grecian Gardens out on Sunset for spanakopita..

UPDATE 7 Oct 2010 -- Work is advancing to reopen this building as a Buffalo WIld Wings:

UPDATE 23 Dec 2010 -- The Buffalo Wild Wings is now open:

Written by ted on September 23rd, 2008

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Coconuts Music, 7007-A Two Notch Road: 1990s   3 comments

Posted at 12:23 am in historic,stores

This building, not technically a Columbia Mall outparcel since it is not reachable from the mall perimeter road, has had several tenants. Right now it is a Verizion store, but at some point in the 1990s, it was Coconuts Music.

Coconuts was a fairly generic CD store, and really the only reason to have gone at all was the location, which was fairly close to my parents' house (I was living out of Columbia by then). On the other hand, Sounds Familar on Parklane was not that much farther, and when I was in town, I was just as likely to end up on the Manifest side of town anyway. So, what i'm leading up to saying is that my own personal boycott of Coconuts did not cause me any great hassle or inconvenience.

The way it happened, as I recall now, is that I had heard some great song on the radio by a band I had never heard of. When I got to Coconuts, I found that this band had in fact been around for a while and had five or six albums out. No problem, I thought, I'll just read the track lists and I remember enough of the lyrics to figure it out. So I pulled out one CD and flipped it over. Huh. There was one of those metal spiral anti-theft, ring-the-buzzer, stickers on back. A big one. Right on the track listings. Well, OK, there's three of this CD, try another. Same thing. Try one of the other albums. Same thing. Every darn CD I looked at had a huge sticker all over the track listings.

I brought this to the attention of the manager, and the response was basically That's the way we do things here.

I decided that wasn't the way places I shopped did things, started a boycott, and a few years later they were gone.

Nowdays, of course, I can just google as much of the lyric as I can rember, find the track and artist and have it from Amazon Prime in two days without leaving my house. (Yes, I could just order the MP3 from Amazon and have it immediately, but I still like having the CDs for backup purposes).

Written by ted on September 23rd, 2008

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El Menchaca / Caribbean Island Restaurant, 3024 Two Notch Road: June 16 2008   24 comments

Posted at 12:05 am in restaurants

It seems to me that a number of Jamacian or Caribbean restaurants have come and gone in the past few years. I'm somewhat curious about the cusine since my impression is that it is spicy, but since the only specific dish I hear of often is "Jerk Chicken", and I don't eat chicken, I've never gotten around to trying one. I believe before this restaurant, the building housed El Menchaca Mexican Restaurant for many years. I'm not sure what happened here to make the building unsafe. The windows are too grimy to see much inside, so I'm not sure if it was a fire or what.

UPDATE 21 July 2011: Finally got around to adding El Menchaca and full street address to the post title!

Written by ted on September 22nd, 2008

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