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Archive for July, 2009

Rite Aid, 2324 Sunset Boulevard: 23 May 2009   7 comments

Posted at 11:48 pm in stores

I find this Rite Aid closing interesting because it happened so soon after the conversion from Eckerd's, so in 2007, they paid a lot of money to redo all the signage and branding, interior and exterior, and then in 2009, closed the store.

I think it was a classy touch to transfer the store's perscriptions across the street to their competitors at CVS rather than sending customers to a Rite Aid further away. I hope the building can be re-used, it's still fairly new and appears quite nice.

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Written by ted on July 15th, 2009

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Dragon Chamber / Players' Paradise / El Amigo / Wades, 3137 Beltline Boulevard   11 comments

Posted at 2:06 am in restaurants

This is a little place I would see from time to time driving down Beltline to Two Notch but not really notice. It appears from this filing in The Columbia Star that they were in business and applying for a liquor license as late as 2007.

This seems to be a hard-luck stretch of road -- below Covenant and above Two Notch. The little office plaza more or less across the street from this place has always struggled, the drugstore at the corner closed, and even the new church being built down the block has had its sanctuary windows broken out during construction.

UPDATE 15 July 2009: Add Dragon Inn, Players' Paradise and El Amigo to post title based on comments. Further fix: Dragon Inn ==> Dragon Chamber

Written by ted on July 15th, 2009

Spam Attack   no comments

Posted at 1:46 am in commentary

If you have looked in on the blog today, you will have noticed lots of spam comments. I've been cleaning them out every time I check in, but this is by far the worst spam attack I've yet seen. And it's weird spam too -- It just seems like randomly generated garbage which isn't even trying to sell anything or bump the link counts of spam blogs.

At any rate, it finally just got too bad to keep up with, and I have broken down and installed the "WP-Spamfree" plugin, which is supposed to be very good about blocking spam comments from "bots" without rejecting comments by legitimate humans. We will see!

If you think it is blocking your comments by mistake, let me know at closings at columbiaclosings dot ocm

There is still a list of words, by the way, that will get your comment sent to the approval queue so that I have to manually let it go through. This includes lots of brand names for medicines, the words"insurance", "poker" and a number of others -- If your comment doesn't go through immediately, wait a bit, and if it's legit, I should approve it from the queue next time I check in. This is *not* related to the spam plugin, and has been in effect for months.

Written by ted on July 15th, 2009

Grocery / Brothel / Richard's / Vista Brewing Company / The Club House / Park Place Ultra Lounge: 936 Gervais Street: 2009   24 comments

Ok, I'll admit the brothel part was unexpected, but it's a comment from a rather staid planning document:


This turn-of-thc-ccntury building was originally used as a grocery downstairs and a brothel upstairs. The footprint has not changed although the existing storefront windows have been in place at least since 1990. The current owner would like to remove these windows and replace them with a folding system of windows which would visually open up the front of the building to the street for 'outdoor' dining. A front entry will still be utilized. A proposed railing will keep patrons from stepping over the sill and into the restaurant.

In more modern times, I believe this once was Dixie Used Furniture, but I would have to go back to an old phone book to verify that for sure.

Sometime in the 90s, it became a trendy brewpub, Vista Brewing Company. After that, it was The Club House (sometimes written as one word "Clubhouse"), which was also a brewpub, at least into 2004.

At some point after 2004, it became Park Place Ultra Lounge. Frankly, I've never been exactly sure what an "Ultra Lounge" is. In fact, my idea of a "lounge" doesn't lend itself to the "ultra" intensifier..

I'm not sure, but I believe that in the Park Place incarnation, beer was no longer brewed on the premises.

Park Place apparently closed this year, but I gather from the minutes of this city of Columbia planning meeting, that the ownership is not changing and that the owner plans to reopen as a restaurant after some remodeling, which was approved in the meeting. (As far as I can tell, there was no proposal to install a red light at the top of the outside stairs :-)

(Hat tip to commenter Tom)

UPDATE 15 July 2009: Added Richard's to the post title based on comments.

UPDATE 9 March 2010 -- Work seems to be going pretty slowly:

UPDATE 23 May 2010 -- Pearlz is finally open:

Written by ted on July 14th, 2009

Luigi's Italian Kitchen, 1215 Augusta Street: mid-1980s   37 comments

Posted at 12:39 am in historic,restaurants

I've known about three Luigi's italian restaurants. The one in Fayetteville NC was great and one of my lunch and pizza hangouts -- it also made the national news due to a horrible tragedy early in the Clinton era. I tried the one in Broad Street in Augusta a few times while I was working there and was never impressed. This one, in Triangle City, was completely off my radar, and I learned about it only when I started looking through old phone books (this ad is from 1970). I'm not sure why that was as I've always loved spaghetti, and got into other Italian food, starting with pizza and lasagna in the 70s. If I had to guess, I'd say it was because it was all the way across town from our area and off my parents' radar during the years before I was driving and that after I started driving, I was, in those years, very satisfied with Pizza Hut pizza, and usually too broke to eat out anyway.

Commenter Dennis wrote:

Is Luigi's before your time?

Was a wonderful Italian place, great pizza, in an old white house
right in the middle of Triangle City.

It's now West Columbia Pawn & Loan, 1215 Augusta Rd, West Columbia.
Building has hardly changed at all on the outside.

No idea what year it closed. It was a hot spot for Carolina students
in the 70s.

The place was easy to find, though a bit hard to get to what with medians and all the odd cross streets in Triangle City. Interestingly, as I was taking these shots, a lady in a car with a sleeping kid in a car-seat pulled into the lot and basically panhandled me. She had some sob story about how she had locked herself out of the house, didn't have any money and wouldn't be able to get back in until 8pm and she was running out of gas and needed to keep the AC running for the kid. I have no idea if it was true, but the sleeping kid did it for me and I gave her some cash. This is the second time I've been "out-of-gas" panhandled taking these pictures. I don't know if I just naturally look like an easy mark, or if something about a guy out snapping pictures in the heat suggests a certain lack of common sense.

UPDATE 23 September 2009: Updated the closing date to "mid-1980s" based on commenter fw's story.

Written by ted on July 13th, 2009

Royal Crown Cola Bottling Co / John Paul's Armadillo Oil Company, 1215 Assembly Street: 2006   17 comments

Posted at 11:33 pm in historic,restaurants

John Paul's Armadillo Oil Company was one of those places that never registered with me. First, there was the name, which didn't give me a good idea of what to expect. "Hmm, southwest? But then why drag the Pope into it?" Second, it opened while I was living out of town and third, it was in the Vista so parking was an issue.

I'm not sure if John Paul's started in Greenville and expanded to Columbia or vice-versa, but there's apparently still one up there.

As you can see from the facade work currently being done on the building, it was at one time the Royal Crown Cola Bottling Co, and if there's anything more Southern than RC Cola, it could only be RC with a Moon Pie. I would have to guess from the style that the RC incarnation may go back as far as the 30s or 40s. I'm saying that the John Paul incarnation closed in 2006 based on this restaurant review, but in that case it seems odd that there are still chairs inside three years later.

(Hat tip to commenter Tom)
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Written by ted on July 11th, 2009

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Filthy Lucre   3 comments

Posted at 6:38 pm in commentary

I don't run this blog to make money, which is good, because it doesn't.

On the other hand, if it did make some money, that certainly wouldn't be unwelcome. I would gladly do a seven figure deal for the movie rights (I would insist on Speilberg directing..), and who knows, more realistically, I might try to shop around a Columbia Closings book someday.

I went so far as to sign up for Google Adsense, and may actually turn it on at some point, but that requires some work with the theme and HTML, and looking at Internet chatter it appears that a blog targeted at a 40+ demographic in one medium-sized city is not going draw the traffic to make it worth-while. Now, don't take that wrong, it's already worth-while for me, and I'm happy to have each and every one of you Columbia Closings readers and commenters!

What I can do fairly easily is open a Cafe Press store. Cafe Press is a web shop that will put your designs on products of your choosing -- the standard set of merchandise: Tee shirts, cofee mugs, postcards, prints, wall clocks and the like. Now, I don't really have designs per-se, I just have pictures, but some of them I like pretty well, so I've set up an initial shop with some Columbia landmark products, as well as a bit of coastal scenery from Pawleys Island. If anyone actually buys anything, I'll be adding some more, if not, well, as W.C Fields said:

If at first you don't succeed...try, try, again. Then quit. There's no use being a danm fool about it.

I believe Cafe Press to be a reputable operation, so I expect that deficiencies, if there are any, will be due to my pictures not being as exemplary as I had thought, but in that case, they have a 30 day return policy.

Anyway, take a look here, that's always free!

Written by ted on July 11th, 2009

So, was this a Drive-In? (Sumter Highway)   4 comments

Posted at 1:25 am in business,historic

I can't find the web page right now, but at one time when I was googling around for Columbia Drive-Ins, I found a site claiming that one had been out on the Sumter Highway. A few weeks ago, I went looking for it, driving down the Sumter Highway from I-77 to US-601.

As we used to drive that way to the beach all the time, I was not surprised to find no definitely identifiable drive-in (since that's the kind of thing that sticks in a kids memory), but I saw several spots that I felt could have housed a drive-in at one time. This one struck me as the most likely. It's on the right side of the road if you are headed towards Sumter, and I believe it is closer to US-601 than I-77.

The reason it looked most likely to me was that I could almost see the remaining building on the lot as some sort of ticket booth, with the burned down building behind it as a concession stand, and the vacant swath as the parking area, with the screen being back by the woods.

Am I completely off base here? Is anyone familiar with this lot?

(If it turns out it was a drive-in, I'll adjust the post title later).

Written by ted on July 11th, 2009

Payless Car Sales, 1231 Broad River Road: 2009 (moved)   3 comments

Posted at 11:21 pm in stores

The last time I posted about a car lot, it was one which had gone under on Two Notch Road, as have several others I've posted about here. This one has actually moved to Two Notch, albeit to a tonier area out near The Village at Sandhill.

In fact, Broad River Road itself seems a bit like the distressed stretch of Two Notch Road. It's hard to think of a part of it that's doing really well. With the almost total demise of Intersection Center and the decline of Dutch Square the whole corridor is hurting. The part with the new Food LIon down towards Greystone seems to be doing OK, and maybe way out in Irmo there are some thriving areas, but it seems like a major road with such good Interstate access (I-20 direct, I-26 from Bush River & St. Andrews Road, I-126 from Greystone) should be doing better.

UPDATE 4 March 2010 -- It's now Pro Bowl Motors:

Written by ted on July 9th, 2009

5 Points Theatre, 632 Harden Street: 1960s   12 comments

Posted at 12:53 am in entertainment,historic,landmark

I am not old enough to remeber the 5 Points Theatre actually operating as a theater though I have been vaguely aware of the building all my life. According to this site, the place opened in 1939 but by the 1960s had become too small to match the evolving theater market. You should definitely check out that link, as it has a killer picture of the place from back in the day, as well as part of the surrounding neighborhood.

Although the "theater-ness" of the place has been somewhat restored now, it currently operates as a bar called Red Hot Tomatoes. I don't know much about it except that googling the street address turns up that some sort of celebrity was in a fight there once.

Written by ted on July 9th, 2009

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