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Le Petit Chateau, 4223 Devine Street: 1990s   29 comments

Posted at 12:45 am in Uncategorized

This storefront on Devine Street between Beltline Boulevard and Fort Jackson Boulevard is now a tax service, but while I was growing up it was the town's best known French restaurant, or at least that was what I thought from always hearing the radio ads on WIS.

In general I don't now have any great interest in French cusine (though the best cheese sandwich I ever had was in Paris), and I certainly didn't have any growing up when I was as cheeseburger as the day is long, but the ads did have a certain appeal. I didn't know any French at the time, and the cadence the announcer used always made it sound like "Lupity Shadow" to me, which had kind of an aura about it. It seemed to me that those ads ran for years, always with the same announcer and same cadence. I'm not sure what the heraldry used in their 1970 Southern Bell ad is supposed to mean. "We cook" would be the basic message there, I suppose.

Looking at the tax storefront, the space Le Petit Chateau would have had to occupy seems pretty constrained to me, and parking along that strip of Devine is somewhat fraught as well -- it can't have been a very big place at all.

I'm not sure when the restaurant closed, but I'm going to guess the 1980s because I went to a comics store in that strip several times then, and can't recall seeing Le Petit Chateau on those expeditions.

UPDATE 14 November 2009:

From commenter Michael Taylor, a possible drumhead for the band "Lupity Shadow" (read the comments):

UPDATE 20 Oct 2010: Changed closing date from "1980s" to "1990s" based on the comments.

Written by ted on November 11th, 2009

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29 Responses to 'Le Petit Chateau, 4223 Devine Street: 1990s'

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  1. I seem to remember that the Le Petit Chateau was originally on Sunnyside Drive off of Forest Drive across the street from Blockbuster in that little teeny weeny microscopic ex-strip mall. I think now it's mostly just a private business strip.

    Here's the google street view of that area and the tiny space with the white facing was the original "The Small Castle." Guess when they made the move they decided to keep the name rather than find a larger castle.

    [click on 'expand' button in upper-right to make the street view larger]

    View Larger Map

    Michael Taylor

    11 Nov 09 at 5:08 am

  2. They were at the Sunnyside Dr. location when I went with my 7th grade EL Wright French class in May 1989, and they closed around 1990 I think. I think Restaurante Divino started in this strip (although not sure it was the same location) prior to moving to the Vista in the mid-90's.


    11 Nov 09 at 8:23 am

  3. Michael - you are right that Le Petit Chateau was on Sunnyside. We would go there sometimes and just get dessert, which was always terrific. Couldn't afford to actually eat there, and couldn't pronounce anything on the menu anyway.

    I have mentioned elsewhere that that same storefront was Joe's Italian House when I was very young, and that's where Dad would bring home the family pizzas from. I remember the family actually eating there only once. Everyone was in a bad mood and arguing about something, and it ended in disaster when I started playing around with the lit candle on the table (stuck in an old chianti bottle just like neighborhood Italian places should do) and got hot wax all over myself. I think I was six.

    Went to Le Petit Chateau after the move to Devine St., and found everything the same (in a good way) except you're right -- that space was tiny! Very cramped and laid out weird.


    11 Nov 09 at 3:25 pm

  4. Dennis - what a great forum this is because I knew the French restaurant was there, but I have the vaguest of vague memories about Joe's Italian House being in the same spot and would have never remembered it had you not brought it up. This is from someone who remembers when Richland Mall was an empty wooded lot on the corner of Forest Drive and Beltline.

    The embarrassing part of following this particular Sunnyside restaurant space over the years for me is that in the mid-'70s I washed dishes at a very fancy (read: expensive) Italian restaurant there, kind of the Italian equivalent of Le Petit Chateau, and I don't EVEN remember the name. It could be the one Dave remembers, but that name doesn't ring a bell for some reason and the time frame seems off. The owner even got me a job doing carpenter helper work at his then new project, Bryan's Warehouse, which was on the corner of Lady Street and Lincoln in the old R.L. Bryan Book Depository.

    It's funny how one can remember all kinds of detail about certain things and be totally clueless about other things from the same era. I do remember the chef at the Italian restaurant lived a couple of doors down Sunnyside Drive and did chainsaw sculptures in wood stumps in his front yard. Also, the owner let all the staff each have a small pizza everyday and on Friday nights after closing he let everyone have a few drinks of their favorite adult beverage. A great guy to work for and I can't even remember his name or restaurant, YIKES!

    By the way, I tried to embed the google street view of Sunnyside into the comment field but it didn't work. However, if you click on the link it will load up the street view after a few seconds of being on the map view. It might take several seconds, but the street view will eventually load.

    Michael Taylor

    11 Nov 09 at 7:28 pm

  5. I'm not sure what the deal was with the locations, but I remember Le Petit Chateau being on Sunnyside in 1989, then moving to Devine St. briefly, before closing around 1990-91. That location became Restaurante Divino. However, the yellow pages ad above shows that they were on Devine St. a long time before that - so maybe they moved back there?


    11 Nov 09 at 9:05 pm

  6. Dave - maybe it became another French restaurant with a similar name. That spot has been some sort of restaurant for as long as I can remember. To honest about it though, I really don't have a memory at all of what that place has been since I worked there in 1976. I don't even remember the name of that restaurant. I do remember that Le Petit Chateau was on Sunnyside Drive before it moved to Devine Street.

    And while we're on Devine Street, I always remember this little strip mall as being the Bet-Mar, Le Petit Chateau, and The Music Store strip mall. I could go on and on with stories about the beer my buddy made with supplies from Bet-Mar, but they always end with me forgetting the rest of the story. Me thinks Bet-Mar moved out to St. Andrews somewhere. John Futch is still there at his music store. And while we're at it, guess where John Futch had his store before Devine Street. The old A&P shopping center on Sunset Drive.

    Michael Taylor

    11 Nov 09 at 10:27 pm

  7. “Lupity Shadow” that's a hoot.
    I thought John Futch worked in a music store in 5 Points back around 1970. They had this high powered amp with a huge metal horn mounted on a base with a dolly called The Mother Dude that they kept by the front door. I'm thinking this place was on Harden near the location of the original Backpacker.


    12 Nov 09 at 1:44 am

  8. Terry -- wow! I saw the Mother Dude! I heard it in action once in the middle of Five Points and the police showed up immediately. This was at Pecknel's right after they had moved to their current building. For years before that they were across the street where Sid & Nancy's is now.


    12 Nov 09 at 2:50 am

  9. Yeah that's right Terry, John Futch worked in the old Columbia Music Store on Harden Street about where Group Therapy is now, that general area. John gave guitar lessons, sold instruments, and worked the cash register, and this would have been circa 1969-1975 plus or minus a year.

    The cat who owned Columbia Music Store got out of the business, and Futch went from there and set up his first store on Shakespeare Road, of all places. Not sure of the exact location of that one, but if you call him he'll tell you. Then he moved to the old A&P shopping center on Sunset Drive, moving to the Devine Street location after only a couple of years or so on Sunset.

    I absolutely remember that giant horn, wonder what happened with that monstrosity. Even though I had seen it countless times, with every visit to the store I had to check it out like it was my first. The Columbia Music Store was my favorite at the time, wish I had some photographs of all those instruments and the guys behind the counter. I bought my first electric guitar from there, a very inexpensive Univox Les Paul copy. I could have spent $200 more and bought a 1957 Gibson Les Paul gold-top in barely used condition, but I just couldn't see spending $500 for a 14 year-old used guitar. I know, I cringe now when I think about it.

    This all has very little to do with Le Petit Chateau, sorry about that, but it certainly was fun thinking about that giant powered horn at the old Columbia Music Store.

    Michael Taylor

    12 Nov 09 at 3:09 am

  10. I am afraid The Music Store is probably going to close up soon. The were "closed for remodeling" for quite a while, now their hours are something weird like 10am to 2 pm. Makes me sad, that was the music store I always liked to go to on Saturdays. Heck even today its the only music store that has used equipment that isn't a pawn shop.


    12 Nov 09 at 6:06 am

  11. I didn't want to go on about it in my last one, but I think John is not able to run his store like he used to. The last couple of times I was there he was sitting down and his wife did all the work, which was very unusual. Yeah, it's sad when an institution goes down, that's for sure. I'm thinking I need to buy some fresh strings and while I'm there force myself into taking some photographs of his music store before it's too late.

    I meant to add that I agree with Terry on "Lupity Shadow". I didn't catch that phrase at first until Terry mentioned it and I actually googled it thinking I was missing some inside joke because I was reading it and not sounding it out in the context of the restaurant. On the very top of the google list was Columbia Closings and Ted's entry for Le Petit Chateau with the phrase "Lupity Shadow" in bold letters. That is funny and it's extremely interesting how fast it ended up on google.

    Michael Taylor

    12 Nov 09 at 7:03 am

  12. I remember Gene McKay on his morning show on WIS Radio (Then 560 am) used to do ads for this place all the time.


    12 Nov 09 at 10:22 am

  13. That's probably where I heard most of them.


    12 Nov 09 at 10:38 am

  14. Oops, forgot I already had a WIS link in the main post.


    12 Nov 09 at 10:57 am

  15. Dennis, Michael and ChiefDan,
    You must all be musicians. The Columbia Music Store was THE place to find equipment and learn about new gear. I haven't played in some time but we ought to form a band and call it Lupity Shadow. Thanks Ted.
    And still I have nothing to add about La Petit, although I heard that described the size of the portions on your plate.


    12 Nov 09 at 12:53 pm

  16. "Lupity Shadow" would be a great name for a band, wonder if Ted would charge us a percentage on our massive earnings? Actually, if I've read the stories correctly, I think Ted is also a musician so maybe we could have him join the band and forgo the name claim percentage. Our schtick would be that we all hang out on Columbia Closings and have fun remembering when, and one of our originals would be, "Do You Remember When?" The funny part about this is that I'M SERIOUS!

    I never ate at the Le Petit Chateau either, but I did come really close once when I first started dating and trying to impress the date. With good timing, I thought at the time, a friend who had once eaten there warned me that if I ate there I wouldn't have enough for a movie and some clubbing afterward. Thinking more was better in those days, I never considered that place again. Of course in 35 year retrospect, the young lady would have probably been madly in love with going to the Le Petit Chateau and maybe taking a ride over the Lake Murray Dam for the other part of the night. Back then gas was 35¢ a gallon and a ride over the moon lit dam would have been just about the change I would have gotten back from giving the restaurant my only $100 bill from what I was told by my friend. Back then a hundred dollars usually lasted this cheapskate the whole weekend with some left over for next weekend. My bud did confirm the claim by Dennis of exquisite desserts.

    Thus ends my total knowledge of Le Petit Chateau in any of it's incarnations. Will that keep me from going on and on and on about it? Absolutely not. When Ted first put up the entry for this restaurant if you had told me there would be 16 or more posts I never would have believed it.

    Michael Taylor

    12 Nov 09 at 8:23 pm

  17. Ha! Afraid I can't sing, play, or even clap in rhythm, but take the name with my blessings :-)


    12 Nov 09 at 10:36 pm

  18. Let another old timer weigh in on those old french restaurants. As I recall, Le Petit Chateau was always on Devine. My parents took me there for my 18th birthday in 1972. (Probably to Dad's chagrin when he saw the prices!). It stayed at that location until it closed in the late 80s/early 90s. The restaurant on Sunnyside Dr. was Chez Pierre. Also serving exceptional continental-style food, it wasn't quite as expensive as Le Petit. In the mid to late 80s, you could get quite a lunch deal there. Choice of soup (house-made) or salad, then choose from a rotating menu of four or five entrees. The last time I went there was in '92 or '93. Don't know when it closed.


    22 Nov 09 at 7:13 pm

  19. The Chez Pierre was probably the French restaurant after Le Petit Chateau moved to Devine Street from Sunnyside Drive, the one commenter Dave is talking about. I'm not going to join any religion based on the Le Petit Chateau restaurant at one location or the other, I ate at neither location, but I know for an absolute stone-cold fact that in the mid-'70s I worked at an Italian restaurant in the above google location, though I'll readily admit I don't remember the name. Something like The Villa Tragliatori or something to that effect. I just made that last word up, by the way, so all you Italian speaking commenters don't have a conniption fit. But the whole time I worked there it was like I was washing dishes in the old Le Petit Chateau. The Chez Pierre had to have come along after the nameless Italian restaurant if you remember it in the mid-'80s, because though a lot of my late teens and early 20's is dreamlike to me now, washing dishes at that Italian restaurant was oh too real. I remember cutting my thumb on a broken drinking glass in the soap water one night and it bled for days in the dishwater. I know, tell me about it, jeez!

    Thanks for filling in the missing French restaurant after Le Petit Chateau moved to Devine Street, I feel certain it's the one Dave was referencing. After the fancy Italian restaurant in 1976, I'll be upfront and admit I don't have a clue about what restaurant was in this space.

    Michael Taylor

    22 Nov 09 at 8:33 pm

  20. Hi all, I just came across this thread while doing a little reminiscing about my years in Columbia. Chez Pierre was a wonderful French restaurant on that first block of Sunnyside Dr. run by Pierre and Marie Rosier, a lovely French couple who wound up in Columbia after a long stint as the corporate chef for the Holiday Inn Corp, back when they used to be a quality hotel. I used to work at Chez Pierre as a waiter in the late 70's/early 80's. After the restaurant closed, the entire staff would sit down to a meal prepared by Pierre and a bottle (or two) of wine. It was a joy to work with them. The food, especially the bouillabaisse, was by far, the best in Columbia, possibly even the state.

    I now live in Ireland and it's been a while since I've been back to Columbia. Are Zesto, the diner at the train station, The Joyful Alternative, Greenstreets and Julie's Place still around?


    daniel rodriguez

    11 Feb 10 at 6:26 pm

  21. Oh...and do any of you remember Henry's on Millwood, the Captain's Kitchen on Decker and Kester's Bamboo House on Harden?

    daniel rodriguez

    11 Feb 10 at 6:29 pm

  22. Daniel, I've got bad news for you. If you follow the link at the top of the page that says "Alphabetical Closings", you can find pretty much every place you mentioned..


    11 Feb 10 at 8:05 pm

  23. Hey. I worked at Le Petit Chateau (devine street) in the early 90s to pay for grad school at USC. great food and the funniest wait-staff in town!

    allison cochrane

    20 Oct 10 at 8:50 pm

  24. So it did last into the 90s. Neat -- I'll update the post title.


    20 Oct 10 at 9:31 pm

  25. Le Petit Chateau on Devine St had wonderful food in the 1970s, early 80s (last time I was there). It was a special place, recall the owner had learned his craft in France. Great wine list, in those days Grand Cru bottles like Cheval Blanc, Chateau Margaux, were $20 to $30. They had a spectacular dessert called Poire Leontyne, named after opera soprano, Leontyne Price who had dined there after a performance in Columbia. I'm guessing this was 1975 or so.


    4 Aug 12 at 10:51 am

  26. The restaurant at 1572 Sunnyside Drive after Chez Pierre was called Sorrento. Bobby Howard owned the business and Cantey Wright was the manager. It was a great place to eat and the staff was amazing. I was the last general manager before the location closed. Great memories!

    Tim Cousins

    3 May 13 at 3:30 pm

  27. Correct. Le Petit Chateau was on Devine and Chez Pierre was the restaurant on Sunnyside Dr. Le Petite Chateau was awesome!


    25 Jul 13 at 7:38 pm

  28. I remember going to Chez Pierre's on Sunnyside with a vendor who wanted to stick it to his expense account. I had Steak Diane which was prepared by the table. I remember the waiter using one of those small silver plated roller cleaners to pick up any stray bread crumbs on the lace tablecloth.

    The food was remarkable and I'm sad that I can't go back there.


    15 Aug 13 at 1:18 am

  29. Google never fails! I've been trying to remember the name of Le Petit Chateau for weeks, to mention to a couple of long-time Columbia foodies. They never remembered it, so the name just came to me today and, when Googling the name I discovered Columbia Closings, what a surprise! I knew the owner of Le Petit Chateau and to my knowledge it never existed in any location other than Devine Street (with which a poster above agrees). I went there last around 1981-82. I was not aware that it lasted until the 90's, but I do remember the new owner re-named it Restaurante Divino and not long afterward moved to the Vista, on Gervais Street. I always though it should be named Rue Gervais.

    Billy Hucks

    31 Dec 18 at 2:58 pm

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