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Jillian's, 800 Gervais Street: 24 January 2016   10 comments

Posted at 1:24 am in closing

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By this point, the fact that Jillian's in the Vista has closed their doors has been pretty extensively discussed in Have Your Say. I believe I had been there twice: Once for a class reunion, and once for a Swimming Pool Qs show. We were supposed to have a family event there about two years ago, but it turned out to be too crowded, and we ended up at Mellow Mushroom. About all I can recall from the times I was there was that it was too loud and busy to ever be a regular spot for me.

The State lays the closing at the feet of the Great Flood of 2015, saying that the 10 day closing and coverage denial by business interruption insurance sealed the deal. Commenters here tend to favor an accumulating straw theory in which the one which broke the camel's back would have come soon one way or the other.

(Hat tip to commenter April)

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Written by ted on February 4th, 2016

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10 Responses to 'Jillian's, 800 Gervais Street: 24 January 2016'

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  1. I really can't believe Jillian's lasted as long as it did. It was really expensive. I only ate there if it was a company function, or other party. It was a good place to shoot pool. I don't like to pay covers unless there is a band playing. It was kind of cheesy as well.

    palmettoconnection

    4 Feb 16 at 10:35 am

  2. I'd echo PalmettoConnection's sentiment about it lasting as long as it did. Their "Vista rent" had to be stratospheric. For purely sentimental reasons, I'm a bit sad to see it go.

    In '99, Jillian's was *the* place to see and be seen if you were a young, single professional in Columbia. I had a lot of work parties there and it seemed every weekend they had something going. Every evening at a set time there'd be an announcement telling guys (essentially) their dress code is now in effect...no hats, tuck in your shirts, etc.

    No surprise, some folks didn't like the "dress code" and complained. Jillian's caved to the complainers and years went on. A different crowd arrived. The single professionals disappeared. Cover charges for seemingly *everything* and a severe decline in both food quality and service ran off many willing to give the place another chance. Fights in the parking lot didn't help things.

    Did the 2015 flood hurt them? I'd bet it didn't help. It *did* give them a polite/politically correct excuse to fold tents. If we're honest, a combination of things did them in...

    Low quality food and service
    Seemingly unnecessary cover charges
    Identity problems/Image problems
    Declining revenues (I'd imagine)
    Costs (see: rent)
    Failure to keep up with changing market

    Lone Wolf

    4 Feb 16 at 12:38 pm

  3. I agree with both of the previous comments. We used to go there from work as a group for b-days and such until, like I posted in Have Your Say, the one time they refused to split our bill and we had to scramble to pay for the food and drinks.

    Back in the late 90's it was a great place to shoot pool, have a few drinks and maybe see a good band. I did see Train there right after they had released their first album with 'Free' and 'Meet Virginia'. That was an awesome and cheap show; before the days of covers for everything.

    As far as I'm concerned this closing is way overdue.

    Homer

    4 Feb 16 at 11:39 pm

  4. I have to agree with Lone Wolf's assessment of the closing. A cover charge should never be assessed just to enter an establishment. This happened to me one night when I came in to have dinner. No entertainment was set up and nothing of value was obtained from the charge. The food was of mediocre quality, two chicken breasts which were dry and not seasoned. I swore never to come there again, which I did after a football game with some froends. Again, they charged five dollars just for admission. My other observation is that the business was too large in footprint. The rent must have been huge. Plus, was it a restaurant and bar, a pool hall, a video arcade, or a dance place? It tried to be too many things at once which made it difficult to establish a steady clientele. The most popular part of Jillians was the Groove Shack which had a shag/beach music theme on Thursday nights. On most other nights, the Groove Shack was closed. So, the cover charge, poor food and service, a bewildering range of entertainment, and inconsistent theme were the most likely reasons for its closing. A franchised place like this should have been able to ride out a ten day loss of revenue. There are most likely other mitigating circumstances behind its closing.

    joelc

    7 Feb 16 at 1:22 am

  5. This building was the offices for the SC Rail Road and was accidently blown up by civilians prior to Sherman's arrival. To see a photo of what it looked like then: http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/civilwar/id/4345/rec/51

    Tom

    8 Feb 16 at 3:31 pm

  6. Good riddance! This place has been a soul-sucking "anywhere but there!" establishment for awhile. I will be interested in seeing if the amount of space they had (a ton) will remain as one unit or be broken down into many.

    BABYSTACKS

    8 Feb 16 at 8:13 pm

  7. @Tom, that's pretty cool. If you didn't tell me that it was the Jillian's building, I could have guessed it. It looks the same. Amazing!

    Sidney

    9 Feb 16 at 1:35 pm

  8. @Sidney - if you are patient enough to scour the old archives you kind find a lot of pictures of historical buildings in Columbia. I have some links to several websites on this box somewhere. If I can find them I will post them.

    Homer

    10 Feb 16 at 12:37 am

  9. Not surprising. I would go from time to time when I got to Columbia in '08 (it was a decent place to play pool), but very quickly the cover charges got crazy ($15 a head for a DJ playing in that Groove Shack thing), and I bailed.

    Justin

    11 Mar 16 at 11:53 am

  10. In my opinion, it tried to be a poor man's Dave and Buster's, but didn't have enough/do well enough any one thing to make the place notable.

    Justin

    11 Mar 16 at 11:54 am

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