Quincy's Family Steakhouse / Stiletto's Strip Club, 7375 Two Notch Rd: 1990s, February 2008 22 comments
Well this was a bit unexpected. I had been planning for a while to do a closing on Quncy's, but when I went there today to take the picture, I found the successor business, Stiletto's strip club had just closed down as well.
Quincy's Family Steakhouse was part of the second or third wave of steakhouses to hit Columbia, and at its peak, the best of breed in my opinion. The first wave consisted of places like Ponderosa Steak Barn about which I mean to do a post someday, while the second wave (or late first, I haven't decided) was places like Western Steer & Western Sizzling.
Quincy's was a very appealing operation for family Sunday lunches, and we ate there almost exclusively on Sunday for a number of years. You would go in, get in line, pick out your silverware and make your order which would be brought out with reasonable promptness. I thought they had a very good burger (which fewer places do well than you would expect), and their salad bar was unquestionably the best in Columbia. The waitresses were all friendly, and came to know and greet "the regulars". The only fly in the ointment was that whatever mechanism they used to wash the silverware wasn't very efficient, and you always ended up having to go through several knives and forks before coming up with unspotted ones.
I liked Quincy's well enough that when my employer started sending me to various cities around the South East, I would take the little list of "Our Other Locations" that used to be in a stand by your way out, to have somewhere familiar to eat when I travelled. (In practice, it would usually work out that either I didn't get to pick where we ate, or we would end up working so late that it was Denny's or nowhere..). I started noticing too that all Quincy's were not alike. The one on Two Notch was definitely the best one in Columbia, much better than the one on Forest Drive, and a bit better than the one off I-26 & US-378. The one in Surfside Beach was very good, the one in Florence, not so much.
Naturally like any chain with a generally winning concept, they started to tinker with it. First, the salad bar started to decline. They took the large wedges of chedder and pepper-jack cheese off, and would start skipping very basic things, like onions, more and more often. Then they decided that the "honor system" had to go. The initial concept was you got your ticket and paid on your way out. The new system was that you had to pay at the end of the ordering line. I suppose it reduced shrinkage some, and obviated the need for another employee and register stand at the door, but it also slowed up the line, and made it seem that you weren't quite trusted to pay for your food. Real decline set in after this, and the chain obviously realized it with their somewhat desperate ad campaigns for The Big, Fat Yeast Roll. The rolls were actually pretty good, but you want to think several times before launching a restaurant ad campaign in which the words "big" and "fat" play prominent roles.
I think the Forest Drive location was the first in Columbia to go, with Two Notch being the last. I believe the chain is still in business and has a few stores left, but I haven't seen one in several years.
I forget what moved into the Two Notch building after Quincy's, but it didn't last too long, and I think the building sat vacant a while before becoming Stiletto's. That brief-lived operation had a sign with a very shapely set of legs, the feet adorned with the aforementioned footware. I'm pretty sure I saw the sign as recently as last week, but I can't say for certain. The sign also mentioned that, like Quincy's, they had steaks on the menu, but I suspect "the sizzle" was more their stock in trade.
UPDATE 9 May 2008: New construction is going on at the old Quincy's/Stiletto's
Looks like it will be a "Harbor Inn", which either means that there will be two Harbor Inns within a mile or so of each other on Two Notch, or that the one in front of Bi-Lo (in the old Ryan's building) will be moving here.
UPDATE 22 March 2010: Added full street address (and some tags)