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Capital Health Club / Jesudi's Italian Restaurant / Lulan Wang / El Korita / Los Portrillos, 4405 Fort Jackson Boulevard: 2008 etc   23 comments

Posted at 1:20 am in closing


First of all, can someone give me a definitive name for the road that starts at Fort Jackson, goes under I-77, passes in front of K-Mart and ends where Devine Street meets Garners Ferry? I've called it "Jackson Boulevard" all my life, but the I-77 exit signs read "Fort Jackson Boulevard", and half of the street signs on the road itself have "Fort" and half don't. Likewise, when I googled the address of this storefront, I find both uses.

Anyway, I became aware of this building when I would drive down (Fort) Jackson Boulevard and cut through to Ruby Tuesday's. As far as I could tell, it was a mexican restaurant which seemed to have passed through a protracted coming soon stage directly to an out of business stage without ever actually opening. Google on the address gives an even more interesting story. Apparently at some point in the not too distant past, it was a Chinese place called Lulan Wang. I'm not surprised I don't remember that as I'm not overly fond of Chinese food so those places don't really attract my attention. On the Mexican front however, it was apparently two different places, and must have been both quite recently: El Korita and Los Portrillos, so I'm apparently conflating and re-arranging two coming-soon and out-of-business progressions in my mind.

I like that the main available sign leaves the palm tree -- that's nicer than just a blank white sign. Also, notice the plaintive writing on the fences to the side of the restaurant urging No Steal Plant. Is that a big problem in Columbia? The fact that they felt the need to write it argues it happened at least once..

UPDATE 28 Jan 09: Several people in the comments mention that the place was also (and first) Jesudi's, an Italian restaurant that was decorated as a cave inside and out. I had completely forgotten that! I knew I had eaten in a "cave" restaurant somewhere in Columbia growing up, but did not connect it with that building at all. I've updated the post title to add Jesudi's to the list of tenants.

UPDATE 31 March 2011 -- Added full street address to post title. Added 1973 Southern Bell ad for Capital Health Club an establishment with a rather different menu than the rest.

UPDATE 22 July 2011 -- The place is now being worked on as an "Upfit for proposed new restaurant":

UPDATE 25 October 2011 -- Well, it's to be The Diner:

UPDATE 15 January 2012 -- The Diner is open:

UPDATE 25 January 2012 -- Here's the mural on the side. Looks as though they are still working on it:

UPDATE 28 January 2012 -- Yep! Definitely still working on it:

UPDATE 28 October 2021 -- I have added the first picture, a shot of Jesudi's in full Italian Cave mode. Commenter Bill alerted to me of this shot at the Library of Congress of all places. The accompanying text says that it was taken by photographer John Margolies in 1988, and is part of his John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive collection, with no restrictions on use.

While I am here, I am also updating tags and adding the map icon.

Also note that several more businesses have come and gone in the building since I first made this post, and that the building was badly hit by the flood of 2015. You can click here for more details.

23 Responses to 'Capital Health Club / Jesudi's Italian Restaurant / Lulan Wang / El Korita / Los Portrillos, 4405 Fort Jackson Boulevard: 2008 etc'

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  1. Back in the 70s-80s this was an italian restaurant owned by the La Brasca owners. The insides and out looked liked a cave.


    28 Jan 09 at 6:51 am

  2. Most long-time Columbians still think of this place as Jesudi's, an Italian restaurant during the 70s and possibly the late 60s. It was owned by the Labrascas, who had a pizza restaurant in Charleston and in Columbia on Jackson Blvd. They hired Jack and Dianne Jackson to run the Columbia location and then to open a more upscale Italian place right next door. Dianne Jackson, (now Dianne Light) now owns and operates Dianne's on Devine St. and DePrato's. The name Jesudi was came from the Jackson family's mother and daughters -- Je(Jennifer) Su(Susanne) and Di(Dianne).

    Jesudi's food was good enough to keep it in business a long time, but it was remarkable for its decor, both inside and out.

    The outside looked like a set from a Flintstones movie. It had huge jagged boulders molded onto the walls and roof line. It was exactly the same treatment as the large outdoor exhibits at the zoo, and I believe the work was done by the same company. A later tenant got sick of it, I guess, and tore it all off.

    Inside, the low ceilings and walls are all formed and molded to make you feel like you are in a cave. Not sure what any of this had to do with Italian food. The interior still looks like this but it is now all painted sky blue. Wonder what the most recent Mexican restaurateurs thought when they first saw it on their search for a location.


    28 Jan 09 at 8:05 am

  3. Lulan Wang was originally (88ish) in Cayce, on the way to the airport, maybe. Somewhere near where Charleston Hwy and 302 split, don't recall which one, though. The owner then moved into the old Jesudi's.

    Technically, the officially recorded name is "Fort Jackson Blvd."


    28 Jan 09 at 9:44 am

  4. I really liked Jesudi’s. Anyone remember when it closed? I know I was in there in the late 80s.

    Mr Bill

    28 Jan 09 at 10:03 am

  5. Lulan Wang moved in in '88 and closed in '05, so presumably Jesudi's would have last been open in '88.


    28 Jan 09 at 11:06 am

  6. Thank's for mentioning the name, I couldn't remember it correctly.I now also remember that the menus said that the place was suppose to resemble an Italian volcano.


    28 Jan 09 at 5:37 pm

  7. Remember the table-top Pac Man in the Jesudi's bar area? How about the mountain lion over the bar? The bartender had a switch the would wag the creature's tail!

    Midnight Rambler

    29 Jan 09 at 8:57 am

  8. Midnight Rambler has an excellent memory.

    Terry Edwards

    31 Jan 09 at 2:47 am

  9. The table top PacMan is the first thing that came to mind.


    31 Jan 09 at 7:23 am

  10.'s a question to all you original Columiba people. Do you remember what sat on this spot originally for many many years? til the early 70's? Does anyone remember The Carolina Skating Rink? Can you imagine something like that sitting on this teen tiny land? How in the world did they get so many people in there? As a kid I used to have some of by birthday parties was really fun times and we always would do the "Hokie-Pokie" dance with those skates on. I'm surprized we didnt kill ourselves tryin' to do this.


    12 Apr 09 at 7:20 pm

  11. I have been looking for a Jasudi's post for ages! Never went there, but heard all about it from an acquaintance who is now the owner of the stuffed mountain lion that once resided in the bar. I wish some photos would turn up. I'm sorry I missed this Columbia gem. It sounds like a fun place.


    4 Oct 10 at 8:24 pm

  12. Jesudi's was named for the 3 daughters of the guy who owned Labrasca's at the time--Jean, Sue, and Diane. It was decorated in something I called "early Flinstone". When Jesudi's closed, Diane opened a small restaurant on Assembly Street in the strip center at Whaley St. and called it "Diane's". She relocated later to Devine St.


    31 Mar 11 at 5:39 am

  13. The mountain lion tail -when it worked, which was only about 1/2 the time that I was in there - was INCREDIBLE!

    LaBrasca's Pizza was across the street (on the same side of Jackson Blvd -oh, and I've never seen it written or heard it called "Fort Jackson Blvd" so that's a new one for me).

    I was actually really surprised to see LaBrasca's opened when I lived in town briefly in 2007-2008. I could have sworn that it went out of business and that location was empty for years, but I could be wrong about that.

    They were "cash only", and that's just completely ridiculous in this day and age in my opinion so I didn't go back there again for that reason.

    By the way, when I was in there the last time, I wandered back into some shady looking bar that was attached to it. I never remembered that when I was a kid. I asked my dad about it and he made some joke about it being a pure alcoholic's bar or something.

    These two restaurants where pretty close to being directly across the street from a long gone bar called "Bullwinkles" which was there for ages. I always heard that it was a gay bar, but that might have just been something that kids say about a place. I'm not positive we even knew what "gay" was back then! Ha ha ha...


    22 Jul 11 at 6:15 pm

  14. By the by.. Work is currently ongoing here as an "interior upfit for proposed new restaurant".


    22 Jul 11 at 6:43 pm

  15. I understand that the owner of Ristorante Divino is behind this new venture.


    22 Nov 11 at 5:01 pm

  16. folks, The Diner will be open here on January 10


    12 Dec 11 at 2:53 pm

  17. Jesudi's was awesome! It was so dimly lit that it took like five full minutes before you could even see after walking into the place. The taxidermied Cougar above the bar was very memorable and the tail could be wagged by customers who pressed a button on the wall by the bar. The food was great and strawberry daiquiris were on 50% of the tables (it was another must go place for date nights in Columbia).

    Ned Harkey

    24 Dec 11 at 10:56 am

  18. Story in The State about the impending opening of The Diner.

    They seem to be unaware that it's been a restaurant before. (Though to be fair, the Whole Foods development should change the business demographics there).


    6 Jan 12 at 2:16 am

  19. I remember Jesudi's from my time at Fort Jackson. My boyfriend and I would go there for dinner. The food was fantastic, the prices were great and I loved the decor. Sad to think it's gone. It's part of my past that I cherish.


    29 Jan 12 at 10:16 pm

  20. Went on saturday night. My wife and I got the rib-eye special and daughter got the chicken fingers. First of all waited way to long. When are food came one of the steaks was way over cooked and had to be sent back. My daughters fries were cold and soggy. Not to mention the baked potatoes weren't cooked all the way through and one didn't have sour cream that they make you pay a $1.50 extra for a tiny bit of bacon,cheese, and sour cream. When the new steak came my family was already done eating and the new potato had sour cream but no bacon or cheese. The waitress didn't seem to give a crap. You would think she would have looked at the food before it was brought to us. Still hungry and disappointed. I guess I need to go back and visit New England were the real diners are.


    18 Feb 12 at 10:04 pm

  21. Lulan Wang's had the best Chinese food that I have ever had. The old Chinese couple that owned it would make every dish from scratch. It took a little while to get your food, but it was worth the wait. The owners had a son and daughter that used to work at the restaurant. They both went to Dreher, and I believe they became doctors eventually. The restaurant was originally on the Charleston Highway, and that is where I first started going. There were never more than 3 tables full of people in the restaurant at any given time, so I do not know how they stayed in business as long as they did.


    23 Jun 13 at 7:46 pm

  22. The building has been redone after the 2015 flood and is now for lease. On that corner of Crowson Road and SC760, the street sign on the eastbound side of the road says JACKSON BLVD. while the one in front of La Brasca's says FT. JACKSON BLVD. When I lived in the area, it was always Jackson Blvd. I went to La Brasca's many times, but not to the building across the street. I lived four blocks from there 1958-70, and turned 18 shortly before my family and I moved away. When I was growing up, it was a bar, thus I couldn't legally go in it. Although I snuck into some music bars before I was 18, that's about it. I remember the location had several different businesses in it over the years including the "cave." Seems like no business was able to stay in business there for a very long period of time, and I don't think you have ALL of the different businesses listed here that occupied it, but I don't know that for sure! It had a lot!!

    Alan Reames

    7 Sep 17 at 8:54 pm

  23. I'm 46 and have never heard of this Jesudi's. I am quite sure I remember it being Labrasca's for some period of time. Cam the way it was explained to me with the Chinese Restaurant(s) that have been there the way they were able to stay open with no customers was because they were part of the Chinese mafia. No wonder the kids grew up to become doctors.


    14 May 24 at 2:37 am

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