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Capitol Restaurant, 1210 Main Street: May 2002   24 comments

Posted at 5:08 pm in Uncategorized

The Capitol Restaurant was supposedly where all the wheeler-dealers from the General Assembly hung out while cutting deals. I don't know how much truth there was to that -- it's certainly within easy walking distance of the State House, but when I would look in while in the area, the interior and patrons didn't scream power players! to me.

I say "look in" because this is another of the large number of closed restaurants in Columbia that were always on "my list" and which I would visit "someday". The nearby Frog & Brassiere was another.

Supposedly First Citizen's was going to do something with the building, but they don't seem in any hury.

UPDATE 2 November 2009: Added street address to post title.

UPDATE 24 February 2013: I have added as the first picture on this post one taken by commenter Thomas in 1997. It shows Capitol Restaurant in operation, and also Capitol Newsstand (and the now vanished building that was once between them). Thanks!

UPDATE 14 November 2013 -- After extensive remodeling, this space is open again as First Citizens Cafe:






Written by ted on June 18th, 2008

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24 Responses to 'Capitol Restaurant, 1210 Main Street: May 2002'

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  1. "The downtown Columbia Dunkin’ Donuts will be on the first floor of 1202 Main St. — the former space of Capital Cafe." Published in The State today.


    24 Jun 08 at 1:36 pm

  2. Hmm, that would be this story.

    I don't think so though. The Capitol Restaurant was at 1210 Main Street. Capitol Newsstand was 1204, and The Whig was 1200, so the Capitol Cafe would have been between The Whig and Capitol Newsstand though that rings no bells..


    24 Jun 08 at 4:06 pm

  3. Went by the area last week. There is a "coming soon" Dunkin Donuts sign in front of the old Capital Newstand.


    21 Aug 08 at 1:03 pm

  4. Dunkin' is actually coming to the old Capitol Cafe, not the newsstand.


    21 Aug 08 at 11:35 pm

  5. Anyone remember the Mister Donut chain? I liked their stuff better than Dunkin'. The one near the intersection of Trenholm and Forest was quite a hangout for my crowd in the 70s.


    22 Aug 08 at 9:09 am

  6. Yep, for a while their "Honey Dipped" was my favorite donut, and I was preturbed when they were replaced by Dunkin' on Forest (in a smaller store).


    22 Aug 08 at 11:02 am

  7. The Captiol Restaurant was one of a kind place. Everybody hung out there. Especially after 11 PM. The politicans, the party people, bookies, the people who bet, ladies of the evening, and the people who got you the ladies of the evening. 3rd shift workers, ex law enforcement personal, lawyers, doctors, judges, everybody from every walk of life went there.
    Many of the politicican and important people had their favorite bottle of booze under the counter. Go and_____ would fix your drink for you. Spent some good times therem andhad a lot of great friends. Most have past away.


    11 Oct 08 at 1:44 pm

  8. 12 years ago, my friends and I made our post-bar destination either the Capitol or "Martin's Eats" on Devine (which you should do a feature on - even though the building is long gone).

    I don't remember ordering anything in particular - except we ALWAYS asked for the "dirty water". I don't know what kind of bourbon he kept underneath that counter but he would add a nice healthy splash of it to your ice water if you asked for it.


    11 Oct 08 at 5:32 pm

  9. I loved Capitol, remember the spit special. . .the old shoe. . .


    29 Jan 09 at 12:01 am

  10. you could order a dirty shoe and a cup of mud. They would bring you a hamburger steak smothered in gravy and onions and a cup of coffee. always remember seeing butter patties on the ceiling. just loved this place......

    J D

    2 Apr 11 at 5:21 pm

  11. I loved ordering the "Spit", and we'd go here quite a bit in the mid 90's. If I remember, it was french fries with a huge burger patty over it, fried eggs over that, and then gravy on top of that. I could be wrong but that is how I remember it.


    21 Jul 11 at 8:26 pm

  12. I liked how on the menu, under the heading "toast and cakes" the only thing listed was buttered toast. also the "bone in" chicken sandwich ( a fried breast on a bun). great times hanging out there late night when i was in high school.


    3 Feb 12 at 5:05 pm

  13. tonkatoy

    6 Apr 12 at 12:25 pm

  14. To avoid the mad weekend night bar rush at the IHOP on Assembly, I opted for a cheeseburger here the night that Eric Rudolf bombed the Olympics, and sat in here for about an hour watching the event unfold on CNN. --Yeah, they stayed open late.


    20 May 13 at 12:40 pm

  15. Capitol had a menu item called "The Shoe". It was a big ole piece of salsbury steak served on top of a pile of mashed potatoes. It was exactly what your stomach needed at 1am after five Points!


    3 Nov 14 at 9:49 am

  16. For the record, the hamburger steak with gravy, onions and fries piled on top of it was the "Old Shoe," and it was amazing at 2:30 in the morning.


    5 Dec 18 at 5:05 pm

  17. God, that sounds good!!!!


    5 Dec 18 at 8:18 pm

  18. I frequented here often after midnight between 1978 and 1980 while at USC. I often ordered the "Fried Chicken Sandwich," which was a breast and wing (bone-in) and two pieces of toast.


    1 Feb 21 at 9:29 pm

  19. I ate here one late night in the late 80s. The menu had “two eggs (any style)”. I asked for poached and the waiter said, “He won’t make them like that.” So much for “any style”. I settled for scrambled.


    12 Feb 21 at 1:11 pm

  20. I was born and raised in Cola. While at USC we made many after midnight trips to the capitol - it was better than studying! My girlfriend and me were afraid of the tall slender waiter- he’d always come to our table before we knew what we wanted and say “whatchu gonnna git!”. We’d nervously make a real quick decision, we’d dare not say we weren’t ready! I’m 66 years old and I’ve told that story all my life. When we’re at restaurants I’m known to repeat that phrase to my kids and grands. What a special story to have stored in memory bank!


    22 Jul 21 at 9:09 am

  21. "The Hat Trick" as we called it, Lunch at the China Garden Buffet in Five Points, Dinner at the Little BBQ Hut buffet on Rosewood. Both all you can eat and get your money's worth. A long night of drinking starting at Rockaways and continuing until the bars closed in Five Points, then a trip (by cab of course) to the Capital Cafe where you would eat a 1/2 Fried Chicken, Coleslaw and Fries, along with all of the bread "Paul" would bring you. Had to have been a 10,000 calorie day and a worse day the next afternoon when you woke up.


    4 Dec 22 at 12:27 pm

  22. I was the busboy there for about a year and graduated to cook after " Jim Jessamin" fell ill and had to retire. This was from 92 till 96 if i remember. it took me about 5 months to get to were i could understand Paul " French Fry Freddie" as we knew him. he was very rough around the edges but once he trusted you, you was good. though he would raise hell if you didn't leave him a parking spot out front for his gold Cadillac.
    Big John was the huge guy behind the register. Heavy set older guy who would look over his glasses with a smirk and tell you your total as he counted the quarters from the 2 poker machines that sat against the wall by the bathroom doors. He didn't take no crap off those drunk college kids either. and kept a rusty 38 under the counter there at the register for the drunks and the would be criminal that often straggled in, in the middle of the night. We was open 23hrs a day. We only closed around 4am to clean and prep for 1st shift and the breakfast crew. We would have live bands from time to time, usually on Thursday nights when the legislation was in session. it was the only place you could get a Jack and Coke at 3am in downtown, thanks to the political connections the place had. As far as the " OLD SHOE", it was a hamburger steak with home fries, covered in boiled onions and house made gravy. The " Spit" was exactly the same but it had 2 eggs over medium on top..
    I would come in around 4pm and would cook 40 hamburgers and 30 hamburger steaks to a medium rare and put them in a huge pot full of seasoned water on the back of one of the flat tops next to the 5 gallon pot of grits. Fry up about 3lbs of bacon, 3lbs of sausage patties, and a pound of home fries. Put them in a pan under heat lamps and i was ready for the onslaught of drunk college kids to come pouring in after 5 pts shut down. Sometimes there would be a line 40 deep outside the door on the weekends. With 3 waitstaff, one cook, and one busboy, We would feed more drunk college kids in one night then most " Waffle House" would do in a weekend.. We were rockstars and we knew it.... And don't forget a piece of chocolate cake of a slice of house made apple or peach pie, that i learned to make from scratch thanks to ol Jim Jessamine. Oh i miss those good old day, made so many memories in that little hole in the wall joint on Main St. Did anyone know that the pay phone out front worked and was only 10cents? Hell of a place to grow up......


    15 Jul 23 at 9:30 am

  23. We used to go there after the Opus and Don's closed. I poured beer at the Opus while taking summer classes at USC. '69-71.

    Bill O'Neill

    26 Oct 23 at 8:57 pm

  24. So many great memories here! One of my best friends mother( Ms Ada)managed this place for thirty years and me and Rhonda would park in the back and come in through the kitchen. They were all like family there.


    9 Feb 24 at 12:52 pm

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