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Steak & Ale, 5143 Forest Drive: Early 2000s   20 comments

Posted at 11:09 pm in historic,restaurants

The only time I ever ate at a Steak & Ale was in Tampa Florida in the late 1980s. We were setting up a new office in Tampa at the time, and I had been seconded from the Fayetteville office to work on the software infrastructure down there. In the event, I ended up spending quite a bit of time in Tampa, but never really got to see much of the city because we were working such late hours.

At any rate, most of the team working on the office startup would eat together every night, and one night I was dead tired and just wanted something simple and to go to bed. I recalled seeing what I took to be a Western Sizzling type steakhouse down the road, so during the usual "where do you want to go/I dunno, where do *you* want to go" scrimmage, I just piped up and said: "Steak and Ale". I figured there would be burgers and a salad bar and apparently beer so the guys who wanted a drink could get one. Well, it turned out to be a little fancier than a Western Sizzling. In fact it turned out to be a lot fancier, and I found to my regret that I couldn't get a burger at all. (In those rare situations, I can usually get a baked potato & French Onion soup -- my "too fancy" fallbacks).

I never went back to that Steak & Ale, and it fostered no desire in me to go to the one in Columbia. Nonetheless, it had always seemed something of an institution to me, and I was quite surprised when they closed up shop a few years ago. After they left, there was a very short-lived operation called Buster's Bistro (which I also never visited) in the building, and now the place is split between some kind of furniture shop and some sort of athletic shop.

It looks like the chain is still around, but the closest one is in Greenville.

UPDATE 25 June 2010: Added full street address to post title.

UPDATE 13 Oct 2010: Added yellow pages ad from the 1975-1976 Southern Bell phonebook.

Written by ted on June 23rd, 2008

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20 Responses to 'Steak & Ale, 5143 Forest Drive: Early 2000s'

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  1. The Steak and Ale was a very nice place to go at one time. I went there on one of our first dates with my (x)husband in 1977. We moved from, then back to Columbia, and it had been downgraded into a burger place. Never returned.

    Anna

    24 Jun 08 at 8:46 pm

  2. I had a few friends who worked at Steak & Ale during high school in the late '90s and have quite a few stories to tell!
    The "some sort of athletic shop" is a dance/ballet studio/shop (Turning Pointe) that has actually been there for a while. I'd heard that the guy who owned/opened Buster's Bistro is married to the lady who owns the dance studio. Don't know if they also opened the Fine Furnishings place that's in Buster's old location. I do know that the space was for lease for at least a year before FF moved in.

    ColaRai

    26 Jun 08 at 6:55 pm

  3. Oh the memories .. (there
    was a S&A on the other side
    of town, I believe) .. my
    parents partied at said est. when
    they were my age (or younger)
    in the mid to late 70's along
    with the late, great "Smuggler's
    Inn" sp? I believe, next to Richland
    Fashion Mall, or whatever it's
    called now .. those were the days
    See if you can scrounge up any
    info on that closing, along with
    Griffs (right down the road, I
    Believe .. or some shag place)
    and several other notable bars
    and restaurants along the
    burial ground that runs along
    Beltline, South toward Trenholm
    ... RIP to all ..

    Fish

    7 Jul 08 at 11:23 pm

  4. I took my prom date here in 1974. Always had great food, I thought.

    FirstDennis

    21 Aug 08 at 10:25 am

  5. The two S&A in Columbia closed due to franchise issues. However, the entire chain (there were still operating in Spartanburg and Atlanta as of late) is about to be history.

    Tom

    21 Aug 08 at 1:02 pm

  6. Buster's Bistro was owned by chef Sig Buster of Fresh Pasta-bilities. I always thought the restaurant was loud due to bad acoustics, but the food was creative and reasonably priced. I liked to dine there, but the building was a poor choice for reopening as a restaurant without some major changes to the exterior.

    Where is Sig Buster now? Wherever he goes, the food should be superb!

    Michael

    24 Aug 08 at 11:39 pm

  7. Buster's Bistro went bust! He's out of the restaurant business and from what I hear after a difficult time, doing something completely different in another state.

    The place was a hodge podge of tacky decoration and the prices rose significantly from the old spot of Fresh Pastabilities.

    Nina

    23 Sep 08 at 1:14 am

  8. We loved the Steak & Ale when I was growing up just about a mile away in the '70s and '80s. It was an affordable place to go on a date, we always took our visiting relatives there, and a lot of people from Richland Northeast went there for their prom dinner in the high school's earlier years.

    I only ate at Buster's once, liked the food but not the location. Fresh Pasta-bilities was a much better location and had a cool little ambiance even though it was stuck inside a strip mall near a Piggly Wiggly.

    Tina

    31 Oct 08 at 11:05 am

  9. I wonder where kids go for prom dining now..

    ted

    31 Oct 08 at 11:29 am

  10. my first non-carwash job was here. i got fired one day after school because i had a test the next day and i couldn't come in. i was a frickin' 15 year old busboy for crying out loud! who fires a busboy for that? what a douche, that manager has probably done well since then...

    steve

    11 Mar 09 at 2:38 pm

  11. ha I never knew you got fired from that place. Man that guy sounds like a douche. The only thing I really liked about that place was the salad bar.

    Mr. Bill

    11 Mar 09 at 2:59 pm

  12. I once ate at the Steak & Ale in Greenville. It was a five-minute walk from the apartment my ex-fiance and I shared at the time, and we wanted steak, and our only means of transportation was walking. It was entirely too fancy (actually, I think the better word is *stuffy*), and expensive as all get-out, and definitely not worth it. About the best thing about it was the bread (which was, admittedly, extremely delicious). I am not surprised that this location didn't last, and if the rumours are true about all Steak & Ales going bust, that would not surprise me, either.

    Amanda

    9 Oct 09 at 9:41 pm

  13. folks, I have a sneaking suspicion that this building has been torn down. I read in The State sometime within the last month that Cookout is interested in a Forest Drive location so this might be where it's going

    Andrew

    21 Feb 12 at 10:13 pm

  14. I was never impressed by the S&A on St. Andrews Rd. I never saw what the "rage" was about them. Bring back Dairy Queen!!

    Del

    22 Feb 12 at 1:51 am

  15. I don't think this building is going anywhere. The Turning Pointe is still there and doesn't show any signs of moving.

    I think Cookout is probably going where United Auto Sales used to be across from Wendy's.

    Matt

    22 Feb 12 at 10:25 am

  16. Matt I wasn't 100% sure but I noticed rumble of what looked like a building that had been demolished along this particular stretch of Forest Drive

    Andrew

    22 Feb 12 at 1:14 pm

  17. Andrew, I might be wrong and I was out of town all weekend, but I haven't noticed anything there as of the last couple of weeks.

    Matt

    22 Feb 12 at 2:15 pm

  18. After further review, I've determined that the building that has been razed is between Ambassador Animal Hospital and Four J's Plaza (home of an Allstate insurance office and a couple of fitness places) at GPS coordinates of 34.023434,-80.955276. That is NOT the site of this but it is within walking distance of it. The Turning Pointe is still ticking (for now) and the building (when I zoomed in on it on Google Maps) looked like it was a United Auto Sales. There is also another lot between Berger Dental and Chiopratic wellness that looked like it was being prepped for something (it's directly across from Shandon Baptist's sanctuary). I lack the psychic powers to know how it'll pan out so stay tuned.

    Andrew

    22 Feb 12 at 7:31 pm

  19. folks, where the United Auto sales once was, steel studs have gone in for something new. No idea as to what for just yet so stay tuned.

    Andrew

    4 Mar 12 at 3:12 pm

  20. That's where they are building the new Cook Out.

    David

    4 Mar 12 at 7:07 pm

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