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Hops, 7711 Two Notch Road: 2000s   12 comments

Posted at 11:31 pm in historic,restaurants

Hops is a brew-pub chain which underwent a near death experience in the early 2000s. The chain was bought by the same owners who took over another near-to-dead chain, Don Pablo's, but both Columbia locations closed, and in fact, I don't believe there are any Hops left in South Carolina.

Curiously enough, though I ate at this Hops a number of times, I never did try the beer. My father, sister and I used to stop for Sunday lunch from time to time, and I recall the food as pretty good. They had the standard list of burgers as well as chicken and pasta, but their "branding" item (aside from beer, of course) was the croissant. They would bring out a plate of criossants almost as soon as you sat down, and though I don't know what a Frenchman would make of them, they were warm from the oven and drizzled with frosting and I found them quite good.

I always meant to try the beer some time, but beer doesn't really fit into my meal routine. I like un-sweet ice tea with my food (lots of it actually), not beer (nor soft drinks for that matter though I did notice that they actually had in-house brewed root-beer as well as regular beer).

I think cold closings are more the rule for restaurants than the exception. For every one where the owner announces that he's retiring and gives you notice to come in before its too late, there are ten where you show up one day and the place is empty. That's how it was for Hops.

The place was empty for a while, then Hooters moved in, and as far as I can tell, is doing a good business (though that's what I thought about Hops as well).

Written by ted on February 23rd, 2009

12 Responses to 'Hops, 7711 Two Notch Road: 2000s'

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  1. I was told that the local franchisee for Hops went bankrupt. At the time the chain was still very much alive, but I am not sure now.

    BTW, their beers were quite good.

    Tom

    23 Feb 09 at 11:44 pm

  2. Hops was a pretty decent chain of brewpubs that had one problem: While their beers were brewed very well, they (the beers) didn't associate with any style. Their dark was more of a brown, their other beers didn't really fit into a style that the average homebrewer could relate to.

    Their food was excellent, though.

    According to their web site, a handful of locations remain in these states: CO, NC, CT and VA.

    JP

    J.P.

    24 Feb 09 at 8:21 am

  3. I went to the one on harbison all the time. I was really sad to see it go. The food was great and the few beers I tried were good. My only complaint was the service. Just before they closed they changed the menu and I was not happy about that. I even wrote a letter to their home office about it.

    Mr. Bill

    24 Feb 09 at 9:43 am

  4. Before these locations (both Two Notch and Harbison) were “Hops,” they were “Gianni’s,” then “Tomato Rumba.”

    I’m not an expert on restaurant history, but, as best I can remember and piece together:

    Apple South was a company who—at one time, I believe—was the largest franchisee of the Applebee’s chain. They also either bought or created other restaurant concepts. First in these locations were the “Gianni’s” restaurants, whose radio spots had a Dean Martinish singer, the last line of the jingle being “and the bubble gum is free-ee.” (They gave you these little pieces of bubble gum after the meal, for whatever reason.)

    Then Apple South rebranded the “Gianni’s” into “Tomato Rumba.” “It’s Tomato Rumba. We’ll satisfy your hunga.” Later they moved Hops after they closed the “Tomato Rumba” brand.

    Sometime later, Apple South changed its name to “Avado Brands,” and went thru a lot of turmoil before ultimately divesting its various restaurant brands and folding.

    badger

    24 Feb 09 at 10:56 am

  5. wow I've never heard of Giannis. I do remember Tomato Rumba being there around '94. I thought they were the first in that building. So anyone know how did Hooters end up with both of these locations?

    Mr. Bill

    24 Feb 09 at 1:38 pm

  6. If I remember some articles I found back when I was googling "Don Pablo's", Apple South had a problem. They were the biggest Appblee's franchise, but they didn't actually own the brand or control its direction. They felt that the brand owners were falling down on the job and were frustrated that they had no input into that, hence the desire for their own brands. In the event, although I consider Applebee's mediocre (though acceptable), its owners seem to have known what they were doing better than Apple South did!

    The Harbison Hooters was moved from Broad River Road near Dutch Square. As far as I know, the Two Notch Hooters is a new store.

    ted

    24 Feb 09 at 1:48 pm

  7. I just find it funny that Hooters moved into not one but two former Hops.

    Mr. Bill

    24 Feb 09 at 4:35 pm

  8. Well, they do come in pairs..

    (Hey, somebody was going to say it..)

    ted

    24 Feb 09 at 4:50 pm

  9. I remember the ape at Tomato Rumba's. It was at that Par 3 on Broad River for a while. There MAY still be a Hops in Spartanburg. It's near the Best Buy, and you can see it from 26. Beers were average. Their food was very good, though. Of "those" type of places, it was the best of them from my perspective. The ex-Hooters on Broad River Road turned into a chicken wing place, and has since been razed.

    Jonathan

    25 Feb 09 at 10:42 am

  10. Was it Tomato Rumba or Hops that had a bunch of really terrific black & white photos of Columbia from the 1930s on the walls in the waiting area? I asked several times where they got them and no one there ever knew.

    Dennis

    25 Feb 09 at 10:45 am

  11. HAHA Thank you Ted. I can't believe I didn't think of that.

    Mr. Bill

    25 Feb 09 at 3:38 pm

  12. I used to like Hops and would stop by the one on Two Notch about once a week when coming home from work. The beer was tasty, although I liked the comment about it not really matching any common styles, and the food was pretty good too. I liked the Walkerwood Jerk shrimp and steak dish.

    Then one night I bit into some ribs and cracked a tooth on a little shard of bone at the end, like where the cleaver might have cut across the tip of a rib. The manager was nice and apologetic and I said, "Hey that happens" basically; don't remember if I got a free beer out of it or not. He took down some info and I went home and forgot about it, except of course for making an appointment soon after for the dentist.

    Then I got a call a few days later, I think at work even, from Apple South Corporate Headquarters from somebody in the 'Risk Assessment Division' or something. One of the first questions out of the guy was, "Do you do something like this often?" I had no clue what he meant, asked, and that's when he accused me of making false insurance claims or some crap. Needless to say, it got pretty heated after that! That and the guy telling me that they felt no responsibility because, "Bones are a naturally occurring substance in ribs", and I went from having written the incident off to WANTING to sue them!

    I never ate there again, and still have problems with that tooth. In other words, I dance on their grave...

    Blaine

    25 Aug 11 at 3:16 pm

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