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Adriana's, 721 Saluda Avenue: 25 October 2009   11 comments

Posted at 1:29 am in restaurants

Adriana's was a landmark Five Points coffee house that had apparently been open for 25 years. Eva in the Free Times has the story of how the end came, and it seems to have been a number of factors.

I believe that I only stopped in at Adriana's once, and got an initial "not for me" impression that I never spent enough time in Five Points to correct. As I recall, it was a hot summer day, and I was walking around the area as I do maybe once or twice a year (actually more than that now that I'm taking pictures for the blog..) and I stopped in for an iced cappuccino, which was served to me sweetened. My theory is that you should never put sugar in someone's coffee unless they ask for it (or unless you're ordering some frou-frou drink which explicitly lists it).

Be that as it may, they survived the coming of Starbucks just around the corner for a number of years, which is no mean feat. The storefront is currently empty, or was when I took these pictures a few weeks ago and I have not heard of anything new going into the space.

Written by ted on December 8th, 2009

11 Responses to 'Adriana's, 721 Saluda Avenue: 25 October 2009'

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  1. Eva mentions in her "Free Times" article that the owner was lamenting that the employees at his other boutiques in 5-Points didn't take advantage of the fact that they could get a discount at Adriana's as they were too busy hanging out in Starbucks because it was more "hip." How anyone can think a Starbucks is more hip than Adriana's is beyond me. Could be a difference in understanding the word "hip." I do understand those who would complain that the service in Adriana's was quirky and that of Starbucks is always perky, but I would argue that the quirkiness is part of the charm of a small independent café.

    I'm going to miss this place, and I didn't know I would until I saw this closing. To be honest with you, I was in Adriana's no more than maybe a dozen times over the years, and I thought the house coffee was just fine and unsweetened. The real reason I'm going to miss Adriana's is because the few times a year that I drive through 5-Points, I always relish driving down Saluda Street just to get a gander at the folks braving any kind of weather to sit at the outdoor tables. It was just a part of the ritual of driving through 5-Points for me. People sitting at the outdoor tables was at least a tiny indication that a café culture was in existence in Columbia South Carolina and that an independent café could actually make a go of it here in this sleepy little southern town. I drove by the other day and noticed that there were no people sitting outside, even on a nice day, but didn't notice that the signage was gone or the place was empty. I'll miss the people sitting outside more than anything.

    Michael Taylor

    8 Dec 09 at 3:13 pm

  2. I was not a regular at Adrianna's (I aged to the point where it was way too hip for me!), but I was a silent supporter since it was an independent alternative to the homogenous chain shops.

    I went in and talked to the owner the first summer they were open -- wish I could remember his name, he was a retired guy from Chicago with a radio background I think -- and he let me hang some of my artwork on his walls for sale.

    Dennis

    8 Dec 09 at 5:35 pm

  3. Hmmph. I drove by yesterday, and it appears Mr. Meihls has moved his shop Boutique Basement into the Adriana's space. BB used to be down at the end of the street by Speakeasy. Dude owns half the block...I wish he'd put something there besides boutiques.

    Eva

    13 Dec 09 at 11:11 am

  4. The free market part of me understands that a boutique is really the only business that does well in Five Points, but the part of me that takes in the various aesthetics - or lack of - at play in any given situation is offended by how easily people around here give up on trying to make something really unique happen in what would be a prime location.

    This story reminds me of the episode of "Seinfeld" where Elaine is offended because the clerk at Cinco de Mayo, a South American ethnic boutique, won't get off the phone to ring up her purchase. Elaine, of course, gets apoplectic and insists on seeing the manager. Turns out the clerk is the owner of the store, so Elaine huffs off and eventually patronizes the other South American ethnic boutique down the street, Punta Mayo. Elaine is at the cash register of the second store thinking that she is sticking it to Cinco de Mayo only to find out that Punta Mayo is owned by the same woman who owns Cinco de Mayo when she walks up to the clerk taking care of Elaine's purchase.

    Moral of the story? Boutiques work in Five Points, and I say this with sadness and a slight resignation, apparently not much else does.

    Michael Taylor

    14 Dec 09 at 5:06 pm

  5. I worked in that spot in the mid 70's-a little shop called Jolie's that
    sold jeans, etc.
    BTW: The original owner of Adrianna's was Tom, followed by Phillip, Phil & Thomas (eerie, huh?).
    Anyways, plans are now underway for another local cofffee shop on saluda Ave., where AA Harrel's jewelers has been for many years.

    Debmcd

    24 Dec 10 at 5:48 pm

  6. Debmcd -- is Harrel's closed?

    Dennis

    27 Dec 10 at 12:47 pm

  7. @DebMCD cool, re coffee shop going in where Harells Jewlery was.

    That's awesome news. Any idea of when they expect to open? I know that there's an old vault at the back of the store that's extremely heavy , I wonder if they're going to repurpose it instead of removing it.

    Mike D

    27 Dec 10 at 4:06 pm

  8. Harrell's still has that safe and wants to sell it, so slip a note under the door if you're interested.
    PS: the coffee shop peeps are ready & waiting to get in and do renovations, but the Harrells are SLOW in moving out. :)

    Debmcd

    23 Jan 11 at 7:31 pm

  9. The original owner was Tom O'Neill. Don't know when he sold it.

    Becky Dodson

    17 Oct 11 at 10:44 pm

  10. I just kind of stumbled upon this by accident. I was a college kid that was hired and on the staff the day Adrianna's opened. Tom O'Neill was indeed the owner. His son, whose name escapes me, was a manager. A popular misconception is that Adrianna's was a "coffee shop" when it opened. It was NOT. It was "Adrianna's Gelateria", clearly specializing in authentic gelato (Italian ice cream). It was made daily in the back room by a gentleman/part owner named Mario, who spoke little English and was a legit gelato "creator". We did indeed serve coffee, espresso, and cappuccino, but that was it as far as java was concerned. Now that I think of it, the owner's son that acted as manager was also named Tom (99% sure). Other original staff members were a dude named Huck Behrens, a super-nice Spring Valley grad named Amy Duffy and a couple of others whose names I can't recall. For what it's worth, and remember that this was the '80's, but it was a rare day or night that most of the staff members weren't high as a kite on weed. I remember well how we would step out into the back alley about 8 times a shift to smoke a bowl (thanks, Huck!). Anyway, it was a great place then, VERY well-appointed inside with a marble floor, expensive upholstery on the booths and lots of brass. It was borderline elegant. From what friends have told me, it turned into a sh*t-hole with bikers, "AA people" and "hipsters" constituting about 99.9% of its clientele (which is fine, just sayin'). But MAN...was that gelato some good stuff in the early days when it was made by a master gelato maker (Mario). Yummmmm...

    Rich T

    9 Feb 13 at 3:28 pm

  11. Adrianna's was sold to an Italian guy in the mid 1990's, and he made his own Gelato there. It was a great place to stop into on one of my long Saturday walks from W. Cola, to get a double espresso, and when it was in the high ninties, a double scoop of home made Italian Lemon Sorbet really hit the spot.

    I have to say after reading past comments that the only things that are mainstay's in Five Points are a few college bars/restaurants, and a several boutiques, everything else seems to be a revolving door of new businesses and vacancies. --Alas Adrianna's now as well.

    SJeffcoat

    18 May 13 at 10:53 am

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