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Martin's Coffee House, 4459 Devine Street: 11 March 2000   17 comments

Posted at 6:56 pm in Uncategorized

Well, I wasn't going to do a post on Martin's Coffee House mainly because I don't remember it at all. However judging by the comments left about it on my post about the neighboring IHOP it seems to be very fondly remembered and to have a strong constituency.

Martin's was a 24 hour restaurant which like the IHOP, was torn down to make way for the Walgreens at the apex of Devine Street and Garners Ferry Road. I have copied the comments about Martin's from the IHOP post to this one.

Written by ted on November 17th, 2008

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17 Responses to 'Martin's Coffee House, 4459 Devine Street: 11 March 2000'

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  1. What about Martin's, or EATS, which was in that strip for years? Famous late-night greasy spoon, iirc.

    Mike Fitts

    17 Nov 08 at 6:57 pm

  2. yes please do a post about Martins, that was my favorite place to eat.

    Mr Bill

    17 Nov 08 at 6:57 pm

  3. Well, unfortunately that’s difficult because I don’t remember the place at all.


    17 Nov 08 at 6:57 pm

  4. it was next to the ihop, it was a local dinner. Very similar to the waffle house but the food was much better. They had an omlet called the Martin's special with about a pound of beef including a whole hamburger. When Walgreen's came along they hacked it off the end of the strip to make room. Because of that I've always had trouble shopping at Walgreens.

    Mr Bill

    17 Nov 08 at 6:57 pm

  5. copied from the state newspaper

    State, The (Columbia, SC) - Sunday, March 12, 2000
    Author: CAROL J.G. WARD, Staff Writer

    At 1:40 p.m. Saturday, owner Martin Belger quietly stepped from behind the grill at Martin 's Coffee House and took a seat at the counter.

    He had filled his last order at the restaurant, which closed Saturday after three decades as a Columbia landmark. As Belger looked around, tears filled his eyes.

    "I've been holding up pretty good until a few minutes ago when all the (waitresses) started hugging me," he said.

    Sarah Belger, Martin 's wife and business partner, had been on the verge of tears all day as customer after customer told her how much they'd miss the Belgers and the coffee shop.

    "I really thought it would be Monday when I woke up and didn't have any customers to wait on. But when I saw ( Martin ) put that (closed) sign up, I realized it was over," she said.

    The lease on the coffee shop at 4459 Devine St. was up in December and the building is being sold. Betty Tiller, the property owner, is not commenting on who is buying the land or what it will be used for.

    But to the customers, old and new, who waited up to two hours to be served Saturday, the future of the building was irrelevant. They had come to mourn the loss of a tradition.

    "God, I hate to see this place close," said Ed Morris, who has been a customer for more than 30 years .

    Morris became a customer of Martin 's when he was a sergeant stationed at Fort Jackson in the early 1960s. He and a friend had part-time jobs at the Cabana Club on Gervais Street. "We'd get off work at 3 or 4 in the morning, so we'd stop in here," he said. "I've been coming ever since."

    Kerri Scott, who gathered with other family members at Martin 's Saturday to not only say good-bye to Martin 's but also to honor her father, Rick Godshall, who died Friday.

    Scott said her father had hoped to make one last trip to Martin 's. "My stepmom asked us all to come eat breakfast here today. We felt like it was a tribute to my father and them (the Belgers)," she said.

    Throughout the day, customers and employees, many with tear-streaked faces, paid tribute to the Belgers.

    " Martin 's is people with people; it's the human connection you don't get a lot in today's culture," Hammond School math teacher Bob Wolpert said.

    Wolpert sees the coffee house as a crossroads of society. "You see people from different walks of life coming together. .You might see a 70-year-old gentleman out for his morning constitutional with his newspaper sitting beside a young man with pink hair and earrings just calling it a night," he said.

    For many customers and employees, the human connection was what set the restaurant apart even for those who had been part of the Martin 's family for only a short time.

    "It's sad. Even though I've only worked here 13 months, it seems like forever because I know everybody," said waitress Pam Seals.

    And there were still connections to be made Saturday.

    Arthur and Lorelle Chausmer, who recently moved to Columbia from Shreveport, La., had heard about the closing and decided to get their first and last taste of this local institution.

    As they waited for their order, they began a conversation with a family at the next table and soon discovered that they had both enjoyed meals at a similar local landmark in Shreveport.

    Even on his first visit, Arthur Chausmer sensed that Martin 's was something special.

    "My feeling is that this (the connection with other customers) would happen whether it was their last day or not," he said.

    The Belgers have no plans to reopen in a new location. Because of her husband's health, Sarah Belger said the couple had planned to operate the restaurant only a few more years anyway.

    "God has looked out for him because I knew he'd never walk away," Sarah Belger said.

    For her, the closing is bittersweet.

    "How many times have I thought, 'Can I have just one Saturday when I can sleep late?' .God has answered my prayers, just not in the way I thought he would," she said.

    As the last customers trickled out of the restaurant, Martin and Sarah sat alone in their favorite booth by the door.

    "We've got a lot of friends; that's what we're going to miss," Martin said.

    According to their customers, the feeling is mutual.

    Many customers have their favorite Martin 's meal, which usually includes the restaurant's cream waffles.

    But for some the choice is not so easy. When asked his favorite menu item, budding diplomat Wyatt Bingham, 11, said, "I can't really point that out because everything is so good."

    But when pressed, he admitted it was probably the waffles.

    Fans of Martin 's cream waffles won't have to go without now that the Devine Street restaurant has closed.

    Owner Martin Belger handed out copies of the recipe to customers Saturday and agreed to let us publish it.

    Martin 's Cream Waffles

    40 waffles

    4 pounds self-rising flour

    8 ounces (1 cup) sugar

    3 ounces (6 tablespoons baking powder

    2 quarts heavy whipping cream

    1 1/2 quarts whole sweet milk

    5 ounces ((TM)cup) butter or margarine, softened

    10 eggs

    * Mix all liquid ingredients well about 3 minutes. Add dry ingredients to batter. Mix until batter rises about 3 or 4 minutes.

    * Cook in a waffle iron until golden brown.

    * Frozen waffles and waffle batter may be kept in freezer. Thaw batter in refrigerator overnight before using.


    Calories, 413.1; protein, 8.273 grams; carbohydrates, 42.54 grams; total fat, 23.41 grams; cholesterol, 130.9 milligrams; saturated fat, 13.96 grams; dietary fiber,5.734 grams; sodium, 869.5 milligrams; sugar, 9.401 grams; vitamin A, 262.3 retinol equivalents; vitamin C, 0.620 milligrams; calcium, 319.7 milligrams; iron, 2.032 milligrams; alcohol, 0.0 grams.

    NOTE: Information is meant only as a guide; the ESHA Research program does not compensate for crop-growing conditions, and some methods of cooking affect nutrient content.
    Caption: PHOTO: COLOR
    1. Martin 's restaurant on Devine Street served its last meal on Saturday after nearly three decades. PHOTOGRAPHS BY KATRINA K. CLARK/THE STATE 2.Brenda Turner shares her last lunch at Martin 's with her daughter, Rebecca Bingham. Brenda and her husband have been eating at Martin 's for 20 years, since they first began dating.
    Memo: Recipe: Martin 's famous cream waffles, at end of article
    Edition: FINAL
    Section: METRO/REGION
    Page: B1
    Record Number: 0003120093
    Copyright (c) 2000 The State

    Mr Bill

    17 Nov 08 at 7:02 pm

  6. I always remember being at Martin's late at night and we'd all laugh and order the "Masterburger". It came with their "special sauce".


    17 Nov 08 at 7:06 pm

  7. Oh..the martins memories:

    The Martin Special... omelete with burger, ham, cheese, onions, hash browns - so good.

    The "no cursing" signs

    The galaga machine

    the optimist club banner


    18 Nov 08 at 8:38 pm

  8. I played a ton of Mrs Pac Man there. I forgot the no cursing signs.

    Mr Bill

    26 Nov 08 at 12:06 pm

  9. I moved away from Columbia back in '99, so I had no idea that Martin's had even closed. Some of the best breakfasts in town!

    We're slowly but surely becoming a chain-only nation, with a Walgreen's and CVS on one side of every intersection, and a Wachovia (Wells Fargo) and Bank of America on the other side...


    28 Nov 08 at 9:41 am

  10. On the other end of this little strip of stores -- and on the other end of the spectrum gastronomically, was a tiny French place called La Petite Chateau. It was a little pretentious, VERY expensive and everything they made was delicious! I always thought it was out of place on that block.

    This was its second location. It moved here from an even tinier strip of storefronts at the corner of Sunnyside and Forest Drive. (Incidentally this was the same location as Joe's Italian House way back in the 60s.)

    We used to go to Petite Chateau for dessert after eating somewhere else we could actually afford.


    16 Dec 08 at 10:11 am

  11. I remember the radio ads for LPC on WIS growing up, but we never went there. Probably my mom knew better than to try to make me eat French food.

    There was also a comic shop in that strip in the 80s. It didn't last too long.


    16 Dec 08 at 12:29 pm

  12. You kiss your mama with that mouth?


    18 Nov 10 at 11:09 am

  13. deleted -- the spam never stops..


    18 Nov 10 at 11:23 am

  14. The Martins Special Omelette was quite probably the greatest hangover prevention food in history. First you must fill your insides with copious amounts of alcohol to gain maximum benefit. God Bless America.

    Justin Parsons

    15 Jan 13 at 5:46 am

  15. I was standing behind Martin at the auction and asked him...if no one buys the sign out front, can I have it? He said sure. They started the auction bidding at $100. and stopped, crossed it off the list and said they didn't want the liability. I asked Martin if that meant I could have it and he said yes. Almost immediately he was swamped with people wanting to know what he wanted. He said it's not my sign anymore, it's his. I turned down several offers, had it taken down and it (the EATS portion) lights a room in my building that I refer to as "the swangin' batchelor pad". I also prepared a commemorative T shirt from a photo I had taken. Martin sold a mess of them and didn't want any of the money. Great guy, great food great place.


    1 Apr 13 at 5:42 pm

  16. Great story! Any chance you have a picture of the sign?


    2 Apr 13 at 11:33 pm

  17. Martin is my Uncle. I was rasied in the Coffee House "Eats". If you need any info, feel free to contact me. Martin is doing well. He has lost his wife Sarah and Daughter Cherry.

    Dell Belger

    15 Nov 14 at 10:16 am

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