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Archive for January, 2010

Sub Station II / Duke Sandwich Company, 3151 Forest Drive: January 2010   16 comments

Posted at 11:52 pm in restaurants

I only ate at Duke Sandwich Company, on Forest Drive between Lizard's Thicket and Zesto, once. Frankly, I didn't think it was very good. This was due to several factors. First of all, I have certain expectations from anything calling itself a "sandwich company" and those weren't fufilled. I went in thinking I would probably get some sort of chese sub, maybe with some bacon or salami, and I found the menu almost entirely made up of "spread" type sandwiches that I had no desire to eat. I suppose the name should have tipped me off, but the only "Duke" product I know of was mayonaise, which I figured was ok for a "name" draw, but was not going to figure in the majority of sandwiches. Anyway, the fact was the menu was not at all to my taste, and I ended up with a grilled-chese sandwich which was pretty much processed-american-cheese-food between two slices of Sunbeam.

Second, I drink a lot of tea, and the store setup was the worst sort for that. "Normally" you either have table service and the waitress keeps you topped off, or you have an ice dispenser and tea urns on the restaurant floor so customers can self-top. The day I was there, at least, they had no urns, one *pitcher* of tea on the restaurant floor and no ice machines. That meant that every time I wanted an unsweet refill or ice, I had to go to the counter, which was very annoying. Also, if I recall correctly, my table turned out to be a "wobbler" that sloshed my drink a couple of times before I adjusted.

Anyway, that's a "Ted" centric apprasial (which is all I have..), if you liked deviled-egg sandwiches, perhaps this was your favorite place. In the event, I never went back. I hadn't known the place was closed until AJ mentioned it in "Have Your Say". I don't think it was open more than a year or two.

It looks like the next tenant for the building is already lined up, "Yummy Good -- Fresh Food With A Hip Attitude". I wish them well, as the building has been somewhat ill-starred since it was a Sub Station II and there was a murder there.

UPDATE 4 Feb 2010: Well, looks like Yummy Good won't be moving in, but you can still lease the building.

(Hat tip to commenter AJ)

UPDATE 7 March 2011 -- Look's like it will be Tokyo Grill:
d

UPDATE 3 September 2011 -- Tokyo Grill is open:

Written by ted on January 31st, 2010

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Columbia Athletic Club Updated   no comments

Posted at 1:13 am in commentary

Now that Gold's Gym has moved out of the old Columbia Athletic Club building, I've taken the opportunity to update that post with lots of new pictures, so if you're interested, follow the link (and leave any comments there as well).

Written by ted on January 30th, 2010

USPS Self Service Center, The Shoppes At Woodhill, January 2010   15 comments

Posted at 12:14 am in government,stores

I see that the inside signage dubs this a Self Service Center, but we always called them Automated Post Offices, and there were only two in Columbia that I know of.

The first was in the old Richland Mall parking lot on the Beltline side. I remember it as being fairly high up in the parking lot (which sloped downhill from Beltline to the mall proper) and in-between Russell Stover and the old theater.

It was something of a big deal when it opened though I'm not entirely sure why. My main memory of it is that after I started driving, my sister and I were in the parking lot near the APO when across the lot another young guy very theatrically decided to become a maniac behind the wheel and play "chicken" with us. He was being a goof-ball with no intention to play "for real" and all three of us were cracking up.

This APO dates, I believe, back to the original Woodhill Mall and thus opened a number of years after the one at Richland Mall (Woodhill Mall being built much later).

When I was taking pictures for my Woodhill post, I decided that I had better get a number of the APO since it was looking rather threadbare, and since it had the kind of stamp machines that they have been phasing out of Post Offices for several years now.

That was back in April. I am pretty sure that I ate at Panera at least once in December and would have noticed if the APO was gone then. I certainly did notice the absence when I ate lunch there today, and got the second set of pictures of the empty site. I also noticed that across the parking lot the self-storage facility behind Jimmy Johns was flying a Post Office banner, so I guess some sort of facility or Contract Post Office over there has replaced this one.

Bonus question: What are the lights across the top of the stamp machine trying to spell out?

Written by ted on January 29th, 2010

Captain D's Seafood / Title Max, 2324 Taylor Street: late 2000s   6 comments

Posted at 12:10 am in business,restaurants

Captain D's Seafood is owned by the same people as Shoney's and generally seems to like to locate very near to a Shoney's. That was the case with the Shoney's on Two Notch and the Shoney's on Bush River Road, but this one, on Taylor Street, in an outparcel of old Food Lion / current Allen University Mall, never had a Shoney's nearby.

After Captain D's left, the building was taken over by loan company Title Max (which took over a number of failed fast food operations in town, including the old Charleston Highway Burger King, and Steve's #1 Sub Contractor on Broad River Road). I don't recall that operation lasting very long, and the building is now vacant once more.

Written by ted on January 28th, 2010

Jim's Discount Mall, Capitol Centre: November 2009   4 comments

Posted at 1:37 am in stores,venue

I noticed this indoor flea market back in September, I think. It was in the old Capitol Centre strip behind Columbia Mall. This is an ill starred retail complex which has seen the failure or relocation of Circuit City, Capitol Centre Theater, Movies Behind The Mall, Office Depot, Aliens & Alibis and Cucos Mexican Cafe. It was several hours before the closing hour stated on the doors when I walked in, but most of the vendors had already covered their wares and gone for the day. I believe I was the only customer in the place, which is always uncomfortable for the amount of attention you get then. In particular a guy came up to assure me that it was usually much busier than this and that anyway they were going to do a grand re-launch event in October. I thanked him and wished them well, but was mentally shaking my head as I walked out. Just from the atmospherics I was 90% certain the place was going to be gone before the New Year, which is in fact what happened.

This kind of place can make it, but I think it requres some special circumstances. For instance, there is an indoor flea market on US-17 just south of Myrtle Beach that has been going for ten years or so. *But*, they have high visibility from a busy highway *and* have an operating Food Lion in the plaza which brings in traffic. Unfortunately, Jim's Discount Mall was not visible from any road. Even if you were coming into Columbia Mall (which is not the draw it was once anyway), you cannot see up the hill into Capitol Centre. Further, there is no store still operating in the plaza that pulls in any regular traffic. Without any of that, it would take a lot of advertising to get the word out, and that is a problem for a low margin operation. If I were going to pick a place in Columbia where an indoor flea market would have a chance to work, it would be one of the empty Goody's buildings which still have good visibility and working stores in their plazas (this actually has sort-of happened on a temporary basis) or the old Circuit City area on Two Notch. (There is also distressed space in The Village at Sandhill, but I suspect they are not yet ready to accept lower market clients on a long term basis). Of course all those rents are probably still higher than Capitol Centre.

Written by ted on January 27th, 2010

Silver's, 1546 Main Street: 1980s   3 comments

Posted at 11:09 pm in historic,stores

I have a vagure memory of stepping into Silver's once when I had walked down to Main Street on a sunny day back when I was living on campus in the early 1980s.

Even then, 30 years ago (and man it hurts to talk about the 80s being 30 years ago..), it was like stepping into another era of retail. I don't remember much about it other than it was a Woolworth's-like five and dime atmosphere, but without the modernizing touches Woolworth's (still mostly viable at the time) had added. On the other hand, I could be mistaken, since Loopnet claims the building was built in 1970, so it would have hardly have had time to get hoary by then..

The downstairs is available and doesn't look to have much happening inside, but the upstairs is luxury residences (here's one).

Written by ted on January 25th, 2010

Club Essence, 8605 Two Notch Road, 22 December 2009   1 comment

Posted at 3:55 am in entertainment,nightclub

I confess that this story in The State came as a complete surprise to me:

Club Essence on Two Notch Road in Northeast Richland, the scene of nine separate shooting incidents over the past three years, is closed.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said pressure from police and neighbors persuaded the building owner not to renew the club's lease.

"Santa Claus came early for this community," Lott said Monday. "This place has been a hell hole."

I had driven past the place many times during the day, noticed the signage with a guy playing saxophone over the legend "Club Essence Jazz Club" and thought to myself "hey, that sounds nice!". I couldn't imagine that jazz would draw much of a crowd and imagined it as a smoky, low-key kind of place. Shows how detached from reality I get sometimes, I suppose.

(Hat tip commenter Matt)

UPDATE 3 June 2010 -- It's now Pandora's Lounge:

Written by ted on January 23rd, 2010

Chick-Fil-A, Dutch Square: December 2009   29 comments

Posted at 11:48 pm in restaurants

Well, it was probably inevitable, but Columbia's original Chick-Fil-A and one of the last original stores in Ductch Square has shut down. They had been in that same location for 40 years, which is like since the Pre-Cambrian in mall-time. I'm not a fan of chicken and don't believe I've ever been in a Chick-Fil-A to get so much as a drink (though I could be wrong, 40 years is a long time!), but I've always admired the chain a little bit for sticking to their guns about not opening on Sunday no matter how much more expedient that might be.

I'll try to get a shot from the other side of the corner at some point, there was a whole table of people seated there at the time.

On the plus side, a new pizza operation has set up in the recently closed D'Avino's on the other side of the hall from Chick-Fil-A

UPDATE 16 July 2010: Added a second picture.

Written by ted on January 21st, 2010

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Savannah's All-U-Can-Eat Buffet, 7371 Two Notch Road: Never Opened   7 comments

Posted at 12:43 am in restaurants

On the unfortunate theme of restaurants that never opened, I'm afraid we probably have to add Savannah's on Two Notch Road.

I wrote about this building first when it had stopped being Santa Fe Mexican Restaurant, before being which, it had stopped being a Shoney's.

As you can see in that closing, when the Savannah's signage initially went up (or when it was actually just a notice under the defunct Santa Fe signage), the original promise for Savannah's was

Grand Opening May 1 2009

Well, May 1 came and went. I believe the signage was adjusted a couple of times with different opening dates promised, then left as you see it here with the hopeful but indefinite

Grand Opening 2009

Obviously, that didn't happen either.

Looking in the windows, it appears that a good deal still must be done, with very little sign that work is ongoing (I've certainly never seen any crews working as I drove past). I certainly wish them the best, but I'm afraid that 2009 was just a very bad year to try to open a restaurant.

UPDATE 21 May 2010 -- As commenter Ken reports, it looks like this place has given up trying to get ready to open and is now simply for lease:

UPDATE 18 Feb 2011 -- Looks like it's to be another Wata Wing:

Written by ted on January 21st, 2010

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(The Original) WXRY FM / Educational Wonderland, 2400 Decker Boulevard: 1980s   23 comments

Posted at 3:31 am in business,entertainment

You may be familiar with WXRY FM as a new-ish non-commercial radio station in Columbia, a sort of WUSC for grownups. (And I know that at least one of their staff follows Columbia Closings: Thanks!).

What you might not know is that is not at all how WXRY started.

FM radio actually goes quite a ways back in US broadcast history, but the story is not straight-forward. In the beginning, FM was pioneered by Edwin Armstrong. He figured out a way to create radio networks using FM only links (a big deal at the time as other networks had to use expensive AT&T landline links). This brought him into conflict with David Sarnoff and his Radio Corporation of America. Showing the ever-present danger of political influence when government gets too entwined with business, Sarnoff pressured the new FCC to change the rules for FM, destroying Armstrong's network and driving him to suicide while leaving RCA's AM technology in the driver's seat. These shenanigans destroyed FM for several decades.

When FM started to make a comeback in the late 1960s, AM totally owned the pop market and FM stations felt they needed to do something different to create a market presence. Some used the higher fidelity and static-free nature of FM to broadcast classical music, others created the "album rock" concept, playing non-single cuts by popular groups that would never have otherwise been on the radio, but a large number of FM stations went the "beautiful music" route.

"Beautiful Music" (I'm not sure that was an "official" format name, but it seemed to be how these stations often described themselves) was what we would now call "muzak" (though that's actually a trademark) or "elevator music". If the names One Hundred and One Strings or Mantovani mean anything to you, then you understand the "Beautiful Music" format, and WXRY was Columbia's "Beautiful Music" station.

I think I've written before about how I came to rock music fairly late in life. My parents didn't hate rock or think that it was ruining society, they simply didn't care for it that much. We listened almost exclusively to WIS AM, which was mostly middle-of-the-road grownup pop. I was always into tinkering with radios though, and at some point I pulled an old bakelite FM-only radio off a neighboorhood trash heap. After testing the tubes at Liggett's and finding that there was a bad one, I convinced my parents to spring for a new tube. At that point the radio worked, but I found that the "off" switch built into the rheostat was broken. I never did master soldering, so I couldn't swap it out, but I could put a powerline switch in the power cord, which I did. The result was what I'm still convinced to this day was the best sounding radio I've ever heard. Sure it was mono, but somehow those transformers and tubes (and not having to support AM circuits, I suppose) gave it a really rich sound. I couldn't listen to WIS on it of course, so I poked around until I found WXRY and spend many hours listening to music that would have given other 12 year olds hives (and would give me hives now..). Eventually I took the radio to our beach house where I found another "Beautiful Music" station out of either Georgetown or Myrtle Beach and I'm sure gave my cousins hives. In the end the radio's tuning went out, though I've still got it stored away somewhere.

After I took the radio to the beach, I more or less lost track of WXRY. I do recall that in the 1970s, a guy in my scout troop knew someone who worked there and told the story about how the staff decided to get wild one day and slip John Denver's "Annie's Song" ("You fill up my senses like night in the forest..") into the lineup, and how they got phonecalls to stop playing that "hippie music".

Loopnet says the building currently at 2400 Decker was built in 1981. If that's correct, the original WXRY studio must have been torn down at some point. I don't know what happened to the station between its being "Beautiful Music" on Decker Boulevard and its current status as "The Independant Alternative" from high atop "The Historic Barringer Building" on Main Street, and whether it was on the air continuously during that whole period. I must admit I have not heard Mantovani on their current air.

UPDATE 2 March 2012: Just found out that at some point after WXRY, this building was a location of homeschooling store Educational Wonderland.

Written by ted on January 20th, 2010

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