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University Corner: Things Ain't What They Used To Be   11 comments

Posted at 7:03 pm in historic,restaurants,stores

Eating at Moes on Main today, I was struck by the sign at University Corner (the small strip mall at the corner of Devine & Main), and how it harked back to an earlier era. Of the businesses listed on its directory

    Carolina's
    Stuffy's
    Bits & Pizzas
    Smoothie King
    Varsity BIlliards

only Varsity Billiards is still actually there (and to my memory has been there forever). Apparently the wi-fi coffee shop that was there last year didn't last long enough to make it onto the sign, and apparently they are holding off on putting Firehouse Subs up there..

UPDATE 8 Feb 2010: Took the opportunity tonight to take some pictures of the lighted Varsity Billiards sign as it's a classic design (From the same school as the old Redwing Roller Way sign).

Written by ted on February 16th, 2008

11 Responses to 'University Corner: Things Ain't What They Used To Be'

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  1. I miss the Big Bird myself.

    Ironchef

    19 Feb 08 at 11:21 am

  2. Yeah, me too. I didn't eat there often, but it was always an option. I started to mention it, and should have.

    ted

    19 Feb 08 at 11:53 am

  3. Any chance that anyone remembers Duff's that was around the corner?

    It was a sub shop in a remodeled gas station where Wendy's is now, corner of Greene and Assembly. Right next to the Winners' Circle, which of course is now FedEx Kinkos.

    I got a summer job on the crew that remodeled Duff's, then the owner hired me to work there and make subs. He was a math professor at USC named Jim Sloan. This all was around 1977.

    FirstDennis

    25 Aug 08 at 1:09 pm

  4. Loved the Big Bird and drank many a pitcher of Dark Schlitz (when Schlitz was still a top brand) at the Downstairs Plaza

    Tom

    25 Aug 08 at 5:07 pm

  5. Oh, how many dollars were spent at The Bird during my 4 years in Douglas dorm from '72 to '76. Coming to USC from New Jersey, I was curious about the popular beverage called "Bird Tea", the overly sweetened nectar that appealed to virtually all students besides me. I can still see Joe behind the steam table serving up the fried chicken. And Frank downstairs serving the draft Schlitz he called "the coldest beer in town". Believe it or not, Schlitz is still my beer of choice, perhaps because it makes me think of the good old days. No mention of MLJ Pizza next door. Incidentally, who can remember why it was called MLJ? The old Pizza Hut on the other side. And finally Patrones Cleaners on the other end, where I never learned to separate whites from darks, and by the end of the first semester, what were orginally white underpants took on a dull gray color. Hopefully this post will trigger a few more memories that can be shared.

    Tinman

    22 Sep 08 at 11:41 am

  6. My roomate and I ate at that pizza hut twice (I think) while we were living in The Towers. We concluded that they were running an experiment to see just how cold you could make a restaurant before customers stopped coming. At this 25 year remove, I wonder if they weren't just making sure college kids didn't hog the booths for hours after eating by making the place uncomfortable.

    ted

    22 Sep 08 at 11:52 am

  7. MLJ Pizza showed up on the scene Winter 1975. Looking back you wonder why and how this New York guy "Mauro", his wife "Lillian" and little "Johnny" end up in Columbia. Maybe Mr. Petrone was providing a safe haven. Anyway you go in there for a slice of pie and his reply was always "Coke". Lillian was in the back not looking to happy and Johnny was out of control.

    Paul

    10 Dec 09 at 6:54 pm

  8. I recall Mauro (the "M" in MLJ) being a heartless individual who nonetheless made a decent pizza, particularly for all the students from NY and NJ who were missing the taste of a Northeast style pizza. A buddy and I were so happy to have a Jersey style pizza shop across from Douglas dorm that we helped Mauro set up his shop and even gave him his first dollar, which customarily is taped to the wall. Ours sat on the paper towel dispenser for a couple of days and eventually ended up in Mauro's pocket. I remember him browbeating a student employee who begged for a night off because he was sick and had to study for a final. I seem to remember hearing that Mauro passed away shortly after he closed the shop across from the Towers.

    Good post about whether Moe's is in the same building occupied by the Big Bird. I recall the Bird being a much wider building with parking in front. I am searching for
    aerial photos of the area from the 70's/80's to find out the truth.

    tinman

    16 Dec 09 at 5:15 pm

  9. Survived a terrible bout of food poisoning from a Stuffy's cheeseburger during my soph year at USC - could never even think about eating there again. Also remember many, many Happy Hours at the DSP with the cheap pitchers of beer.

    PsAustrinus

    28 Jan 10 at 11:09 am

  10. The full title was MLJ Mauro's Pizza. I never knew what M.L. J. stood for, but no matter when I went in there, the little guy was there making pizzas. There were great. I lived on his pizzas during my 4 years at USC--1974-78. I went back about seven years later, and he was closing down his store. He asked me if I wanted to buy it. I was tempted. Now I wish I had!

    brian

    25 Mar 10 at 2:28 pm

  11. Bits and Pizzas was pretty good despite the fact they were only open a couple of years (came and went while I was at USC somewhere between 2002-2008). I remember them famously never having the dessert Posposa (pretty sure I spelled that wrong) that was in the menu. My girlfriend tried ordering it like 3-4 times and it was always out. The location was very tiny with only a few small tables for eating in. I am almost certain (though never confirmed) that the entire restaurant was carved out from Stuffy's space when it opened (probably a good sign about Stuffy's closing just a few years later).

    As for the Moe's, it opened while I was at USC as well and I am pretty certain it was a newly built building. I remember being puzzled at this new building being built when I found out the Addam's Bookstore, Pizza Hut, sketch convenience store, and was it a meat market(?) were getting demolished for the condos. I really thought Moe's would suffer the same fate but it was spared by inches.

    Brandon

    27 Apr 10 at 8:24 am

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