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Columbia King Buffet, 109 Woodland Hills Road: August 2014   28 comments

Posted at 10:47 pm in closing


















There seems to be some dispute whether this building is at 109 Woodland Hills Road or 788 Saint Andrews Road. The yellow pages listing and the '109' on their mailbox settles it for me as the first. There's also a bit of a discrepancy between the "closed for remodeling" signs at the front door, and the realty sign by the curb. I believe in this case the bigger sign wins, and this building is now on the market.

As you might guess just from the 'look', this rather large and rambling faux tudor building once housed one of Columbia's two Steak & Ale restaurants.

(Hat tip to commenter Arthur)

UPDATE 14 September 2015 -- As noted by commenter Andrew, this is now Tokyo Buffet:






28 Responses to 'Columbia King Buffet, 109 Woodland Hills Road: August 2014'

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  1. I rarely go to Chinese buffets unless I hear good things about them. I never ran into anyone that visited this one or the one further up the road in the old skating rink/Bubba N Buck/Opening Break building at Widewater Square. I did try the Jasmine buffet at I-20 & Two Notch the other week and it was very good with a huge selection.


    26 Aug 14 at 11:27 pm

  2. I never went myself but I was under the impression that this was a buffet with both Asian and Ametican items...

    I tend to avoid Asian restraunts as the food smells unappetizing to me...


    27 Aug 14 at 2:26 am

  3. I ate at this restaurant one time and that was the last time. It was way over priced and the food was awful. The selection was poor as well. I really just wanted to see what a Steak and Ale would have been like when it was open. Steak and Ale was before my time. I ate a little bit of food, paid and left. I am not sure why people open these type of restaurants. To me if I was going to open up a place it would have good food that would keep people coming back for more. I have to say that I have eaten at the Jasmine Buffet a few times and has to be one of the best in town. Its just so far from my house.


    27 Aug 14 at 1:58 pm

  4. I have to side with William on this one. I ate here once with some people from work years ago and the food was pretty terrible. This is a closing long overdue in my view. Also another example of how far the Saint Andrews area has fallen in the last twenty five or so years.

    59 Ford Wheelman

    27 Aug 14 at 4:03 pm

  5. The only reason this place stayed in business was because of the transient population from the hotel next door. Also, when the huge buffet opened off Columbiana Drive (where Bailey's used to be), called Flaming Grill, it put this one out of business.


    27 Aug 14 at 8:08 pm

  6. Ate there twice. It was two times too many.


    28 Aug 14 at 6:02 am

  7. This place was shut down at least once by dhec for unsanitary conditions. .


    29 Aug 14 at 4:54 pm

  8. It's sounding like to me (based on what others have said) that a less than stellar community reputation had emerged and it finally did them's the same thing that I think happened to Shoney's at 600 Bush River Road based on the comments on that page...


    29 Aug 14 at 5:24 pm

  9. Like many have said before, myself included, most everything in this area is going to pot....


    30 Aug 14 at 12:38 am

  10. This morning I got a "Double Take Offer" email offering a 1/2 buffet from this location, so either they reopened or there is some bad communication between them and Double Take. If I was to guess, I would say the coupon was sent in error.

    I never ate here, when it was a buffet, always enjoyed Top China up the road by the bingo/Bubba and Buck/Redwing. From what I understand Top China has gone down hill in recent years.

    I really miss Steak and Ale, that use to be our go to place for family special occasions. We ran across a Steak and Ale several years ago in Florida but it wasn't the same.


    30 Aug 14 at 11:07 am

  11. Ed - I also miss Steak and Ale. We went to the one on Forest Drive. Surf and Turf, it was awesome.


    30 Aug 14 at 1:51 pm

  12. Ed and Rick: I too miss Steak and Ale. I used to take my Mom there on special occasions and my whole family would go sometimes also; back in the day when is was appropriate to dress in your Sunday best no matter what day you went. It seems as if that was one of the best places for Steak and ambiance at that time. It was there before all the other Steak places came to Columbia, such as Ruth's Chris, Longhorn, Texas Roadhouse, Outback, etc. I guess that's ultimately put them out of business. Have never eaten at Columbia King Grill and I'm so thankful I didn't! I thought I might go at one time just to see how they had changed the inside of the building for nostalgia's sake! I can vouch for The Flaming Grill though. Awesome buffet and many varied types of food along with a Hibachi grill too (and fresh sushi if you're into that.) Nothing stays on the buffet line for long before it's replaced with a freshly prepared replacement.


    31 Aug 14 at 7:26 am

  13. I don't know what the problem is but I really can't find a steak around Columbia I like anymore.
    I may be spoiled from eating too many steaks at Bubba's in Dallas TX.

    If you have never heard of them, the name does not do them justice.
    When you walk in the door there is a glass front cooler that you reach into and pick out the steak you want, the steaks are on a plate covered in plastic wrap, then they cook it to order for you.
    Everything else is good there also. Sides, etc.
    I guess Texas really is known for their beef.


    31 Aug 14 at 1:43 pm

  14. It's no slight on Ruth's Chris and I'm glad they're here, but they should never be the best steak in any city. But they're the best here by a long shot, which is why when I want a steak, I grill my own at home. I'm not sure a top-notch steak place would survive here, though.

    Places like Longhorn (owned by Olive Garden's parent company, based in Orlando near the theme parks), Outback (owned by Carrabba's parent company, based in Tampa, downstairs from a LASIK clinic), and Texas Roadhouse (started in Indiana, based in Kentucky, neither of which are Texas) should never be in the conversation for a good steak restaurant any more than Red Lobster shouldn't ever be called a quality seafood restaurant in any state with a coast.

    I was in Dallas recently and went to Bob's, which also suffers from a name that belies the absolute miracles that happen inside. I haven't even heard of a steak that good in my life, let alone had one that even comes close. Dallas is on point with their steak, that's for sure.


    31 Aug 14 at 2:04 pm

  15. Jason is so right on the money! Columbia desperately needs a superior steak restaurant.


    31 Aug 14 at 5:51 pm

  16. So right. We haven't had a decent steak here in Columbis since Quincy's folded.


    31 Aug 14 at 6:46 pm

  17. I went to Ruth Chris last week and had the 8oz filet with the Oscar topping, $48. I was not impressed at all. Fortunately for me, there was a piece of wood from the skewer in my steak that I bit into and got my meal for free and got a Apple Tart for free as well. IMHO, Outback steak is way better than Ruth Chris' 8oz filet. Even the Bourbon Street Steak at Applebee's is better.

    I know I said this before but I will say it again, I worked at Quincy's for 2 years from 88-90 at 2 locations, Rosewood and Piney Grove.


    31 Aug 14 at 7:01 pm

  18. I agree that Columbia needs a nice 'middle of the road' steak house. I used to classify Outback and Longhorn's as such after the demise of the old traditional family steakhouses such as Quincey's, Ryan's, Ponderosa, Western Sizzler/Steer and the like, but the last time I went to Longhorn's it seemed that I was paying dinner prices at lunch. I was highly dissatisfied!

    A friend of mine at work went to a steak house at Myrtle Beach ((name escapes me now) but the cheapest thing on the menu was $20+ for a chopped steak!!! $20 for a hamburger patty? Give me a break!!

    The only time I frequent 'upscale' steak or chop houses is if I am out of town on business. I will calculate my per diem and starve myself for a day, skipping breakfast and lunch to splurge on a huge steak while the company pays for it.

    For Labor Day, I have two 8oz. Ribeyes marinating right now in a beef stock, garlic, onion and black peppercorn solution. Along with this will be two 6oz. lobster tails slathered in butter. On the side grille I'm cooking some yellow squash, zucchini and green beans in an herbed butter sauce. Total cost? Somewhere around $35 for two.

    Happy Labor Day, everyone!!!!


    1 Sep 14 at 3:18 am

  19. Sidney- I will agree that Applebee's Bourbon Street is a decent steak for the price. I have never been to Ruth's Chris because I know people who have been there, and it is obviously a great experience except for the price does not justify the steak.

    Homer- lately I have been marinating my steaks in Dale's Steak Seasoning for about an hour before grilling, that's all it takes. I use the low sodium version and will add sea salt if needed.

    I also like an Italian Dressing marinade I mix up with various seasonings from time to time.
    And certainly not trying to diss anyone, but a good quality, well marbled grass feed Angus beef Steak cooked correctly, only needs sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, no steak sauce required.
    I get the grill up to around 500 plus degrees and sear the steak about a minute per side, then reduce the heat and finish cooking, depending on the thickness of the steak, it takes practice and trial and error.
    It is very important not to jab the steak with a fork or cut it to see it if is to your liking, this causes all those good juices to run out.
    Next, after removing the steak from the grill, allow the steak to rest on a wire cooling rack, lightly covered in aluminum foil for five minutes before serving.
    That's what I'm looking for from a steak house in Columbia. I can only get this grilling the steak myself and I purchase mine from Whole Foods Market at Devine and Jackson Blvd.
    But get ready to pay$$$, they are not cheap.


    1 Sep 14 at 10:47 am

  20. I have a Brazilian friend who I've seen take steak, cut it into small pieces and season/grill it. To this day it's the only way for me to enjoy steak.

    Ruth Chris seems too expensive for my tastes (much like Al's Upstairs does as well).

    My mom is the type that would rather grill her own steak (like Homer and Rick plan on doing) than go to some of the steakhouse restaurants.

    Ponderosa is still around but the closest location to us is in Ashland, VA. There are a few other locations in other parts of Virginia and even a few in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia as well.


    1 Sep 14 at 11:04 am

  21. Andrew- Western Steer, or maybe it was Western Sizzler, I can not remember at this point in time but, my wife and I would go there in late 70's, if that is any indication to which steak house it may have been, and order their "Sirloin Tips" with a baked potato or fries and a salad. I was young and maybe my taste for a good steak had not evolved yet but, we thought that was SO good. We ate there often.

    The locations of the steak houses I am talking about, one was on Garners Ferry Road where San Jose's is now next to the Target. Another was at the corner of Garners Ferry Road and the Rosewood extension approximately across from the old Big K-Mart near McDonalds and Jackson Blvd.
    And then there was another at the corner of Two Notch Road and Beltline near where the old Pulliam Ford was.

    I worked at an electronics shop back in 1972 through 1975 on Beltline Blvd across from where Central Chevrolet once was.
    I was 15 years old in 1972. The electronics shop was called Triple A Electronics, or AAA Electronics.
    We repaired TV's, Radios and installed speakers and after market radios in cars.
    My boss, which I must say his name, Earle Abbott, would take me to that steak house at Beltline and Two Notch to eat two or three times a week.
    AAA electronics is where I got my start in the auto stereo business, being one of the first in Columbia doing the sort of thing that is so popular today.
    This was before Continental Sound, Norton's Stereo, Rogers Car Stereo, Custom Car Stereo and WAY before anyone like Circuit City and Best Buy even wet their diapers yet.
    Back in the day, when the best one could get from the car dealers was an AM-FM radio and maybe for $800.00 one could get a 8-track in dash player as an option, and the only aftermarket products were under dash 8-tracks with plastic housed 4" speakers to put on the rear deck. One could buy these at K-Mart.
    When I started selling amplifiers in 1975 that would increase the volume of a car stereo, and started selling and installing 6X9 speakers and 10' woofers with tweeters and mid range speakers, customers treated me like I was a GOD.

    This was back in the mid to late 70's. So you young farts that think you are cool now, for having a loud stereo in your car, ain't shit in my opinion.
    I was doing that before you were a twinkle in your parents eyes.
    I ALWAYS had the latest and greatest in my cars, it was a selling point. It was cool and I enjoyed it very much, and do not take this the wrong way but that is how I made my fortune, if you will. I was only 26 years old and was making way too much money for someone my age.
    I had three stores and eventually sold out when competition from others caused me to start losing business, and the fact I was getting tired caused me to loose interest.
    I then went into the satellite dish business, sold that and started a Industrial Espionage Business, Detecting for illegal wire taps and eves dropping devices, and then sold that.
    Now I am in manufacturing and hate almost every minute of it, just building my 401K and waiting to retire.
    So, how's it going for you? HAPPY LABOR DAY.


    1 Sep 14 at 12:59 pm

  22. And one more thing, just because I can sell, install and service electronics does not mean my grammar and ability to spell are worth a dang.


    1 Sep 14 at 1:08 pm

  23. My folks an I used to go to the Bonanza Steak Barn on Bush River Rd. Rick's mentioning of Sirloin Tips reminded me that that was what my Mom usually ordered. Myself, I went for the largest thing on the menu and my Dad was somewhere in the middle. Even back them, I wanted my steak so rare that it mooed when you stuck it!!

    Does anyone remember the ridiculous little black, plastic salad bowls they used to give you? My Dad and I would come back from the salad bar with those things piled up like Mt. McKinley. We would spread out napkins on the table to catch what fell off on the table. The big difference between my and my Dad were that I wanted to sample all of the veggies on the bar while his bowl was 99.9% meats and cheeses.


    2 Sep 14 at 1:24 am

  24. @Rick, my stereo man! Amen to your comments, even though I have owned several sets of the $4.99 Kmart specials. I had a set sealed and mounted behind the grille of my car so I could route sound through the PA on my CB radio for listening to tunes outside the car. Hows, that for nostalgia and being on the cheap??

    I know you remember the post I made about the Mindblowers. Those things were the bomb in their day.

    You're right about these little punks today with amps in their little rice burners that will almost blow the trunks open with the bass. Listen kids, seeing who can cause the most vibration and distortion ain't cool. But when all of your music revolves around capping someone's ass or slapping a MFin' ho, I guess it doesn't make much difference. And then you add the exhaust systems that sound like someone giving a raspberry or a droning fart. That just rounds out the package.

    I have only had one vehicle ('85 Z-28) with a custom audio system. The husband of someone I worked worked at sold stereo equipment at the place on Two Notch close to Columbia Mall. I can't remember which one it was (it was the late 80's, help me out Rick). They sold Denon equipment, which I never would have considered due to the price. But I got it for 10% over cost since I was friends with the guys wife.

    I ended up with a AM/FM/Cassette head unit, a huge amp, the four factory speakers replaced, two more mounted in the door panels and a 12" Bazooka subwoofer mounted under the hatch. You could hear me coming a mile away but the sound was pure and clear as a bell. Nothing sounded better than Sweet Child Of Mine from Guns N Roses or Money For Nothing from Dire Straits.

    I don't pay that much attention to car or home audio any more. I have three receivers, a Pioneer, A Kenwood and a Harman/Kardon all from the 70's and 80's. I've got two sets of speakers, a set of old Pioneers and a set of Realistic Mach Two's, again nothing newer that the 80's. The only new piece of equipment I have is a Stanton direct drive turntable since most everything that is on the market in the non-DJ arena is a piece of crap.

    A buddy of mine used to have an OLD Fisher tube receiver. I have never in my life heard purer sound quality than what came out of that thing. Alas, he passed away about two years ago and Lord know what became of his stereo equipment.


    2 Sep 14 at 2:04 am

  25. Let me correct my post from 2 Sep 14 at 1:24 am. It was the Ponderosa Steak Barn not the Bonanza......


    2 Sep 14 at 2:07 am

  26. Homer - I can't remember the name of the place you are talking about but I know where it was and I was friends with the owner, can't even remember his name, but he worked for a stereo distributor that I purchased from before he opened his place, anyway it was across from the old Circuit City which was later a blind and window store. The place you are referring to was kind of a little hole in the wall, out in front of the store they sold home audio equipment and in the back they had their car stereo stuff. They had a display for the stereo equipment that was built out of wood and resembled the interior of a car, one could sit down inside and get an idea of what a system might sound like in your car. I thought that was pretty ingenious and even considered doing the same thing in my stores. I'll try to send some pic's to your e-mail showing some of my old stores.


    2 Sep 14 at 3:56 pm

  27. I noticed some shrubbery work being done at this site (not sure what for)...


    6 Sep 14 at 12:19 pm

  28. The place was American buffet in its former incarnation. I enjoyed eating there. The selection was predictable and somewhat limited but I could always get my fill of pepper steak and soup. The Woodland Hills community is not a sketchy area. The demographics support having a restaurant of some sort in this location.


    8 Sep 14 at 3:12 am

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