Archive for August, 2009
I'll change the post title if someone can reliably identify this place, but for now, all I can say is that it was an 70s or 80s looking fast food drive-through operation of some sort. The place is now 1st Choice Auto Center, and is almost on the corner of Two Notch and Beltline, in between the old Food Lion and the recently torn down McDonald's. We used to eat at the Burger King across the street fairly often, so I know I must have seen this while it was in operaiton, but I have no memory of it now.
UPDATE 23 Aug 2009: OK, looks like this was McDonald's before they moved to the corner of Two Notch and Beltline, so I'll change the post title from "Fast Food Restaurant" to "McDonald's".
Well, recent weeks have not been good to pizza operations on Forest Drive!
I liked The Original Italian Pie but found it rather frustrating in a couple of respects.
Why did I like it? Well, they had a quite good pizza, with ingredients like "kalamata olives" which, while getting more common, still are hard to find. The crust was not too thick but neither was it too thin and was chewy without being mushy. They also had bottles of olive oil on the tables to drizzle over the pizza, and the staff was friendly. In fact at the time I was going fairly often, they got to know me by sight, and would just bring out a pitcher of unsweet tea for me so I could read before and after my pizza without them having to keep making refill passes.
Why was it frustrating? The main thing was the hours. For various reasons, I am often uable to make supper before 9:30 at the earliest. That was OK initially, since while they closed at 9:00 during the week, Thur-Sat, they were open until 10:30 and I could drop by then.
After a few months however, they went into the deadly Well, we weren't too busy, so we closed the kitchen early cycle. This is a prime violation of rule #1!, and really ticks me off. I got caught in it a few times, then one night I thought I was safe as I was able to make it at 9:15, a full hour and 15 min before the posted closing and they still sprang it on me. I confess I got as argumentative as I ever do in a restaurant (which isn't much, but..). Luckily, I had the support of a feisty woman who had come in just behind me and we did get served. After that, they changed the hours posted on their door, leaving just a dash for the closing time if I recall correctly (which is, of course Sign #1), and I was not able to eat there at night anymore.
In fact I rarely got to eat there at all, since I don't usually have pizza for lunch during the week if I'm going to have to be awake and thinking during the afternoon, but I was able to go for Saturday or Sunday lunch from time to time. The closing of the Italian Pie at Sandhill was not a good sign, but didn't seem to have much effect on the Forest Drive store. However, the last time I was there, in early July, I believe, I did notice that Sign #6 had come into play: The olive oil bottles on each table were gone.
I don't know what happened in the end. As you can see from the pictures, the place is going to re-open as The Pizza Joint, so perhaps the owners just switched franchaises. That doesn't seem too likely to me however as TPJ is a "late night" chain, which was definitely not the strategy of The Italian Pie.
I encountered The Pizza Joint when I was working in Augusta. They have a location on Broad Street, and one night when it was too late to hit The Mellow Mushroom, I decided to check it out. Frankly, I wasn't too impressed since it's a New York style operation and NY is not my favorite pizza. The smallest pie was also 14-inches, which means that a single guy has to order by the slice, which I really don't like. (Also, that part of Broad Street was a good place to get panhandled).
I see that since I moved back here from Aiken, they have opened a branch there. I guess they are gradually moving East from Augusta. Perhaps if it works out here, they will hit Florence and Myrtle Beach..
They appear to be building a dining patio -- if they are able to get that done and open as the weather starts to cool down a bit, it should be very nice.
UPDATE 23 Aug 2009: Changed the post title to add Hardee's after being reminded in the comments that a Hardee's was on this lot (in a different building) before the Italian Pie.
Well, as a man walking up to the closed doors said, "Another one bites the dust." In fact, as I went to take these pictures, a number of customers dropped by to find the place closed. I heard one woman talking to a friend on her cellphone saying in effect, "They had the best salmon, but every time I came here, the portions were smaller". That may have been her imagination -- I've always heard that the actual cost of food ingredients is a very minor component of your restaurant bill.
At any rate, The Village Bistro apparently closed quite recently: The interior still looks ready to go, and their web site is still live for now. I never made it there, but it appears they had a pretty good menu. Most of the entrees are off my beaten track, but I could see lunching on the greek salad or Angus burger.
I'm not sure what this says about Sandhill. They also recently lost Shane's Rib Shack but that chain apparently has bigger problems. I walked around that part of the Village a bit, and Wild Wing appeared to be doing a good business, but of course Brixx is still closed for repairs, and it was past lunch time, so Which Wich they wasn't really available for comparison either.
UPDATE 10 March 2010 -- It seems the next step for a building already outfitted for a restaurant (if it doesn't become a Lizard's Thicket) is to become an Asian buffet or a Mexican restaurant. In this case we get La Fogata Mexican:
Does Kmart even have a business stragegy anymore? Fabian tactics work if your opponnent needs to keep sending home for men, money and elephants, none of which is the case for Wal Mart, whose new store on the site of the old Bush RIver Mall doomed this Kmart location. If your strategy is "close a store whenever Wal Mart opens one", you might as well just turn the lights off now. I remember the bluelight.com strategy during the dot-com bubble, and the Martha Stewart strategy before she went to jail, but what is it now?
Hardee's decided to not go head-on with or try to out-McDonald McDonald's with their "Thickburger" campaign, and seem to have gotten some traction with it. Target seems to have found a viable "almost as cheap as Wal Mart, but nicer" strategy, why can't Kmart? You would think that after all the effort and money they spent buying Sears they could leverage that brand somehow, or they could always rebrand their stores with the historic and fondly remembered S. S. Kresge nameplate and try to refocus that way.
I've never run so much as a hot-dog cart, so I can't pretend to know the answer, if indeed there is one, but keeping old looking, poorly stocked stores like this one open without any refits until Wal Mart moves in isn't it!
I suppose it wouldn't bother me except I have a certain residual fondness for Kmart since we shopped a good bit there while I was growing up. Mostly it was the Two Notch or Fort Jackson stores, but if we were on the right side of town, it could be this one as well. Kmart is the only store I've ever been lost in, the store I brought my first LP in (The Beach Boys 2-disc "Endless Summer" for $5.25) and the first place I would go when shopping on my own if I ever needed a hammer or a light bulb or anything like that. I even remember the old-style "Blue Light Specials" where they would literally drag a flashing blue light cart to the shelves with the special promotion items.
Oh well, or as the clerks used to be remided with a sticker on the register: TYFSAK.
UPDATE 19 Aug 2009 -- Well, I guess they do have a stragegy:
or perhaps it's just a hope, "Savings Are Here to Stay". And I'm pretty sure that's not how to spell Arrowwood.
UPDATE 14 Septmber 2009: Added an older, but better hilltop picture above.
UPDATE 9 November 2009:
Well the store finally closed yesterday evening. As it happened, I was in the area having had lunch at Fuddruckers, so I stopped by. The store was basically operating out of a small square area in front that was formed with walls of shelving moved to semi-enclose the space. They weren't actually keeping people out of the back part of the store, just indicating that there was nothing to buy back there, so I walked around behind the area to get some pictures of the vast empty spaces.
As the final half hour of the store's life started, the announcer came on and said that everything was now 95% off. I hadn't really planned to buy anything, and indeed there wasn't much left to buy, but anytime there's a 95% off sale, some sort of "There must be something I can use" reflex kicks in, and I started actually looking on the shelves.
In the event, I found some of those electrical sockets that you screw into edison-base light fixtures to make them into electrical outlets -- something I need every ten years or so, and got a number of those. I also picked up some of those "make one phone jack into two phone jacks" plugs, a Rand McNally map, and some sort of Disney Hannah Montanna memory card that claims to have songs on it though I'm not even sure I have a reader for that format.
As I was checking out, the announcer was saying, "and if you know anyone who's hiring, let your cashier know", which was sad, but I suppose very appropos.
After I left, I went over to Dutch Square for a little while then came to the parking lot to take an exterior picture of the storefront and roadside sign. Then it occurred to me to drive up to the Dutch Square parking lot again, and take a few shots from the hill over Hardee's.
The blue-light is now dark.
UPDATE 22 August 2012 -- As mentioned by commenter Andrew, something is going on at this old Kmart. The front doors have been boarded up, but with a new access, and there are construction dumpsters out front. I don't know if the Remington College poster on the building indicates that they will be expanding from across the parking lot into this building or if they just leased the right to hang a billboard for their operation (in the OfficeMax) there. At any rate, there is no visible construction permit to give any better idea of what is happening:
UPDATE 1 October 2012 -- Construction is going on:
Well, this isn't a total surprise as Paulie's had been undergoing kind of a combination of Sign #2 & Sign #6 for a while.
To be a bit more specific, I used to eat lunch at Paulie's once or twice a month. I really enjoyed the Italian Sausage Sandwich with peppers and onions, and it was all the better in that they linked their own sausage in two different flavors: hot or sweet. The hot was excellent, and my favorite.
Then I would come in for lunch, and they would be out of the hot sausage, and I would have to get the sweet. Then after that, they would be out of both, and I finally concluded that while they weren't going to drop it from the menu, they weren't really going to have it any more either. Since I rarely eat pizza for lunch (it makes me want to sleep the rest of the afternoon..), I just stopped going there. (They also stopped putting out an un-sweet tea urn, leaving a half-empty pitcher with an implied and we're not making any more when that's gone!.
Their pizza, I do have to say, was excellent! Unfortunately, they closed so early (9pm during the week, 10pm Friday & Saturday) that I was rarely able to have any.
We'll have to see how the Village Idiot incarnation does menu and hour-wise. I've only eaten at VI in Five Points once, and was less than impressed since they had average pizza and no unsweet tea at all. I did not go in, but it doesn't appear that they've changed the physical plant much. The booths could really use some padding!
Hat Tip: Matt.
Well, that was fun!
Normal posting should resume today barring any work emergencies piled up in the last 3 weeks.
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