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Archive for January, 2011

Fast Tracks BBQ & More, 806 Saint Andrews Road: 6 December 2010   11 comments

Posted at 12:32 am in restaurants

The way I normally handle a particular address is that the first time I write about it, I try to list all the previous tenants that I know about as well as the business that is the primary subject of the post. The next times something closes there, I just write about that particular business. That means that I have written about this particularly ill-starred building on Saint Andrews Road, just up the hill east from I-26 three times before this. The first time, I was primarily interested in D's Wings, but gradually found a whole lot of places had been there before. The second time was for Baja's Southwestern Grill, and third time was for Delmonico Diner.

The latest eatery to close here is Fast Tracks BBQ & More. I am not a barbecue person, so I never attempted to stop by there, but commenter Alicia reports that they have been closed since 10 December 2010, and that they plan to re-open in another location -- I hope so. She also reports that their facebook indicates that their lease was bought out, so perhaps we can look forward to yet another restaurant here. (Of course, the "available" sign would tend to suggest nothing is certain).

It still seems to me that this location would prosper more if they could work out something with the adjacent gas station to have a back exit with access to the traffic light at Fernandina road. That would make it much easier to return to I-26 without having to make a non-light left turn across Saint Andrews.

(Hat tip to commenter Alicia)

Written by ted on January 31st, 2011

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S&S Cafeteria, Richland Mall: 30 Jan 2011   51 comments

Posted at 1:05 am in restaurants

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As I've mentioned somewhere or another on this site, the last time I ate in a cafeteria was sometime in the mid 1990s when I found myself at a "Picadilly" at Regency Mall in Augusta -- I was distinctly underwhelmed. Before that, it was probably the S&S on Gervais when my Aunt was visiting town.

Growing up, however we ate fairly frequently at Richland Mall's original cafeteria, The Redwood Cafeteria and sometimes its follow-up Morrison's.

My general opinion of cafeterias was not high. As a kid it seemed to me that they could even mess up rice & gravy -- cafeteria rice was not like "real" rice at all. Instead of sticking together properly, every grain was separate and discrete. (I suppose it was parboiled or "converted" as Uncle Ben called it ["Q: What's white and runs up your legs? A: Uncle Ben's perverted rice!"]). Furthermore, they didn't have hamburgers. My parents insisted that "hamburger steak" was the same thing, but I knew it wasn't. Still going through the line was interesting, and the little butter-pats on paper never failed to fascinate.

Upon hearing that the Richland Mall S&S was to close on Sunday (30 Jan 11), I decided I would eat lunch there one day to check it out and maybe get some pictures. Arriving at my usual lunch time of 3:00, I was a bit confused. The doors were open and people were at the tables (and, yes, they were mostly older folks, just as the stereotype goes -- that's OK, I plan to be one someday, and probably sooner than I expect). The way I expected to get to the serving line however seemed to be blocked. I saw a possible second serving line, but nobody seemed to be tending it.

An enquiry finally established that they had taken down the serving line sometime before I got there, and would not fire it up again until 4:30, and that the second line was for take-out only -- which is a shame because it looked pretty good, with black-eyed peas, and other nice vegetables, rather more Southern than I remember the old cafeterias being.

So anyway, I did not get to eat at S&S before it closed (unless I get there tomorrow or Sunday, which I consider highly unlikely), but I did get some pictures later in the week, and captured several of their billboards (the one across Forest Drive from the mall is already taken by a new advertiser now).

This will be the first time Richland Mall has had no cafeteria in it, and can't bode well for the future of the mall, but then what has lately?

UPDATE 30 Jan 2011: Added the first two pictures, take just after the doors closed.

UPDATE 7 September 2012: Added picture of the Two Notch Road billboard above.

Written by ted on January 29th, 2011

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Ed Robinson Laundry & Dry Cleaning, Trenholm Plaza: 1970s   12 comments

Posted at 2:21 am in business,historic

This corner space at Trenholm Plaza was most recently occupied by The UPS Store, but when I was growing up, it was Ed Robinson's, though I probably never knew it by name.

My mother did not believe in clothes dryers, opting for a clothes-line in the back yard. This was fine most of the time, but since rain is not unknown in the Columbia area, every now and then we would be faced with a need for clothes that were not yet dry. In addition to that, in the 1960s I had the impression that our washer was something of a lemon. There were fairly frequent calls to the service man, and more than once I recall the floor covered in sudsy water.

When we needed clothes washed or dryed, there were two choices: either the laundomat by what is now city hall on Trenholm Road, or the one in Trenholm Plaza. I think that when my mother had to deal with us children, we tended to end up at Ed Robinson since she could let us "free-range" around the plaza while the clothes were cycling.

As I recall, the staffed laundry was in the east end of the building with the laundromat area being in the west end. The laundromat area was filled with tables and wheeled hampers, and smelled of soap and hot lint. As I recall, the tables were some sort of plastic, or covered with plastic and hued aqua-marine. I would sit on them, and swing my legs back and forth (this must have been before I could read, or I would have had a book). As a boy I was fascinated by mechanical devices of all sorts, and I was particularly fixated on the gas dryers which lined the west wall. Not only did they have sort of retro-spaceship-control sliders for varying the temp from "warm" to "way too hot", but they were large enough (floor to ceiling) that I could imagine actually riding in one (this was during Gemini & Apollo) with more room to spare than the astronauts had. The start (or "blast off") process was particularly satisfying as you put your quarter in a slot way at the top of the machine (I had to use a chair), turned a knob which had a very satisfying action, heard your coin drop with a cheery plink, and then got to push the starter button which wound the whole thing up.

The washers were not quite as interesting, but did have a variety of little plastic tops you could put on the agitator for reasons which escape me now, and of course you could always play "open the lid -- washer stops" / "close the lid -- washer starts" until my mother would make me stop so she would get a full wash from her quarter.

I'm not sure when the cleaner closed. I know it was still there in 1970, but think it was gone by the time I left town in 1985. As for myself, while I agree with my mother that line dried clothes are nicer than tumble-dried ones, I don't have her patience. The line is still in the back yard, but the clothes go in the Kenmore. (And for all that I tend to be a "they don't make them like that anymore" guy, I don't think I've ever had to call service on a modern washer or drier..)

The original plan for Trenholm Plaza was to tear down the whole wing, and The UPS Store moved across the way in anticipation of that, but in the event the economy collapsed and management scaled their plans back to doing a remodel instead. Most of the spaces have been re-filled, but the old Ed Robinson space is currently still empty.

UPDATE 29 November 2011 -- It's to be a Cafe Caturra:

UPDATE 7 February 2012 -- The Cafe Caturra looks about ready to open:

Written by ted on January 28th, 2011

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Metro Columbia Florist Delivery Pool, 2218 Gervais Street: 2010(?)   no comments

Posted at 1:38 am in business

Here's a non-descript little warehouse on Gervais Street between Millwood and Harden that I couldn't ever recall seeing before when I noticed the big for-sale sign out front.

Apparently it was a flower staging area for local florists. The 2009-2010 county property assessments list the owner as "METRO COLUMBIA FLORIST / DELIVERY COOPERATIVE INC" while the "Delivery Pool" language comes from this listing of local florists. LoopNet says the building dates from 1970 while the county link says 1987. To me it looks a bit more 70s-ish than 80s-ish.

It's rather interesting how every-other letter has fallen off of the start of "FLORIST", rendering is as "F O I". I take the "L" as having been part of "POOL" though the spacing looks pretty tight for that.

UPDATE 8 March 2011 -- Hmm. It's been painted, the old logo letters have been taken down, the for-sale sign is off in the corner and the door is open:

UPDATE 13 April 2011 -- It's to be "Detail & Body Works By Frank". Picture a little blurry..

UPDATE 23 December 2011 -- Now open:

Written by ted on January 27th, 2011

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Palmetto Flooring, 2515 Devine Street: fall 2010 (Moved)   3 comments

Posted at 1:14 am in stores

Here's another floor store that's moved, this one apparently to 610 Beltline Boulevard.

There's been a good bit of turnover on this general stretch of Devine in the last year or so. And it looks like Weathers across the street will be next.

Written by ted on January 26th, 2011

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The Elite Epicurean / LaVecchia's Seafood Grille / Aquagrille / Club Rio / Club Dreams, 1736 Main Street: 2000s   27 comments

Posted at 1:34 am in nightclub,restaurants

According to this link the Boyne Building was designed in 1900 by local architect James Hagood Sams. I'm sure it has been a large number of things over the years, but the one which gets mentioned here more often than anything else is The Elite Epicurean. Unfortunately, I know almost nothing about it. I believe that for the majority of the time it was open, I was living out of town, and at any rate just the name would have put me off as being "too fancy" (not to mention the iffy-ness of Main Street at night).

All that aside, I can say it was listed in the 1998 phonebook (though with no Yellow Pages ad) and here's what some of you have said:


One of my favorite Columbia restaurants missing from your list was the Elite Epicurean. They had a dish called something like “Island of Scorpios Shrimp”. It was delicious. Also, the stuffed twice baked potato at the Elite Epicurean was very good -- commenter Sarah


Let’s see… Elite Epicurian first became a Northern Italian seafood-focused place called LaVecchia’s, full of fish tanks and aqua neon colors, until around 2002… Then it became Aquagrille, which didn’t last long. After that it has been dance clubs under 2-3 different names -- commenter Dave


I still miss the Elite Epicurian. Lamb Chops Bandit Style! -- commenter Dennis

Club Dreams would seem to be one of those short lived dance clubs commenter Dave mentions -- the night picture is from a Friday night, when one would expect a dance club to be open, so I think it is gone as well.

Written by ted on January 25th, 2011

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Scott Brothers Restaurant & Bar / Palmetto's / MacDougall's Restaurant & Bar / The Sly Fox, 902-F Gervais Street: Jan 2011   19 comments

Posted at 1:39 am in nightclub,restaurants

I never made it to The Sly Fox which is a shame, because they had "poutaine" on the menu -- something I've wanted to try ever since hearing of it. My understanding is that it is basically french-fries covered with cheese-curds and gravy. The menu on The Sly Fox's web site (already off-line) specified that it was "squeaky" cheese curds too. According to what I've heard about cheese curds, they only squeak when there are fresh, basically only on the first day after, um, curding. This makes me wonder where they could have been getting the curds, as I'm not aware of any local cheese makers, and have never seen cheese curds for sale in Columbia.

Commenter Barb reports The Sly Fox was closed as of 4 Jan. I went by a couple of times this week, and there seemed to be a crew carting stuff out of the place. As you can see, the interior is pretty bare now, and the sign on the east side is down (though the one on the west is still up). The place is pretty much right across the street from Damon's and Paul's, so there is a good bit of vacant restaurant space in the area now.

(Hat tip to commenter Barb)

UPDATE 26 Jan 2011 -- Based on the comments I have added Scott Brothers & Palmetto's. Here is the Feb 97-Feb 98 Bellsouth Yellow Pages ad for Scott Brothers:

UPDATE 27 Jan 2011 -- It turns out I had some pictures of the MacDougall's incarnation as well:

Written by ted on January 24th, 2011

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Tire America / National Tire & Battery, 7201 Two Notch Road, Suite 900: mid 2000s   12 comments

Posted at 3:58 am in stores

National Tire & Battery (now a Tire Kingdom) was in this Columbia Mall outbuilding more or less behind the old Penny's location. I actually did go there once a few years ago when my car started really thinking about things before turning the starter over. I usually put Die Hards in my cars but for some reason or another I was not able to get served by Sears that day. I'm not building up to anything here -- it was perfectly acceptable service and a battery that lasted several years. (I've actually had much worse luck with alternators than batteries anyway). I guess I would have been hosed if I had needed to take advantage of the battery warranty as they closed fairly shortly thereafter, but in the event it wasn't an issue.

I don't believe the building was vacant long at all as Tire Kingdom moved in shortly thereafter. I find it a little amusing that this large, freestanding building has only a suite number, while all the little suites at The Shoppes at Meeting Place have full street numbers.

Written by ted on January 22nd, 2011

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Huddle House / Title Cash, 3801 Rosewood Drive: 2010 etc   14 comments

Posted at 1:30 am in business,restaurants

I've always thought of Huddle House as a downmarket Waffle House, which is saying something, but it almost seems like the way Hardee's and Bantam Chef used to be related -- you saw the second in places that couldn't support the first. I'm pretty sure I've been in a Huddle at one time or another, but I have absolutely no reliable memory of such an occasion right now. I am sure I was never in this one which sits at the intersection of Rosewood Drive and Kilbourne Road.

The LoopNet listing suggests that the follow-on operation, one of Columbia's ubiquitous (but not apparently very lucrative) title pawn operations, has been closed at least since mid October 2010.

UPDATE 12 April 2012 -- It's now a Marco's Pizza:

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Written by ted on January 21st, 2011

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Jumpin' Jacks Giant Jersey Subs / Gervais Street Deli, 1200 Main Street Suite 102: 2009/2010   no comments

Posted at 2:27 am in restaurants

Things move really fast sometimes. I had first written about this little space fronting on Gervais Street just across from the Capitol and above The Whig in a closing for Holey Dough Cafe. By the time I got around to taking pictures of it, all the Holey Dough identity was gone, and the place was in full operation as a sub shop, Jumpin' Jacks Giant Jersey Subs.

The first I knew that that place was gone was when commenter Midnight Rambler mentioned that the next operation (which I had never heard of) had closed!

All I can say about the Gervais Street Deli is that a) it had wi-fi and b) It was, technically, not on Gervais Street...

(Hat tip to commenter Midnight Rambler)

Written by ted on January 20th, 2011

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