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Zesto's / Tracks, 539 Harden Street: 1980s   9 comments

Posted at 10:55 pm in historic,restaurants,stores

Zesto's is a Columbia area chain of almost-open-air walk-up restaurants. The older ones are generally odd in that while there may be a dining room, it does not connect to the order counter (which may or may not even be "inside"). The chain is greek influenced, and probably does most of their business in chicken, but for me the attraction has always been chocolate-dipped soft-serve vanilla cones. There's almost a little ceremony as the server fills the cone, then upends it and dips it into the vat of molten chocolate. Then, you take it, wrapped in a little napkin which soaks up the vanilla which is already running down the cone to your hand and, and bite into the just hardened shell -- perfection.

This lot on the corner of Harden & Blossom streets was for many years home to the Five Points Zesto. I believe the store was actually built as a Zesto and had a large ice-cream cone "statue" similar to the Triangle City store in Cayce. Although I typically went to the Forest Drive store across from Richland Mall for my chocolate-dip fix, I recall being quite sad when the Five Points store was demolished. What was even sadder is that the location would probably still be viable as a Zesto's, but the store which replaced it, a Record Bar offshoot called Tracks failed pretty quickly. Here's what commenter Hal had to say about Tracks:

I also worked at the Columbia Mall Record Bar. I worked from November of 85 untill the store closed in 91. Brian is correct in that there where two Record Bars in Columbia at the time. One at Dutch Square, which was store #9, and the one at Columbia Mall, which was store #94. The Tracks in 5 points open around 89 or 90, and was the mack-daddy of it’s day. It was the first two story store, which they later regreted because it had no handicap access to the second story, and it was a video rental store. It also got national news coverage when a drunk plowed his car straight trough the Blossom street wall. Hillarious.

At any rate, Tracks didn't last there too long. I forget if there was anything else before the current tenant, T-Mobile, which has been there at least five or more years.

The traffic cones, and the general drab & gray aspect of the picture are due to it being taken the day before the Five Points St. Patrick's Day fest -- what great weather they had this year!

Written by ted on March 22nd, 2009

9 Responses to 'Zesto's / Tracks, 539 Harden Street: 1980s'

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  1. I remember Blockbuster music ,which I think was part of Blockbuster video, being there. I think it may have just been tracks under a new name. Then T-Moblie. I've heard before that the Rosewood Dairy is connected to Zestos in some way.

    Mr. Bill

    23 Mar 09 at 3:11 pm

  2. I loved this Zesto's and probably stopped in for lunch at least once a week and again late at night for one their soft ice cream cones. The girls really dug that, for some reason.


    28 Mar 09 at 12:26 pm

  3. My brother and I went here with our dad one afternoon (we went a lot but this time in particular sticks out) and it was right after my mom had just gotten a job after years of taking care of us. She worked there on Devine right near five points and we parked and rode a bus down to the Zesto, and my dad would always get that same ice cream cone that was the big sign there... a huge soft serve vanilla with chocolate dip. I remember that sign and in my memory when I think of it, a small angelic chorus plays with the memory of the picture :) Silly, but great memory!

    Melanie Gallant

    29 Mar 09 at 2:01 am

  4. Ahhh Tracks.

    Hal got me a job there some months after the Record Bar closed in Columbia Mall. I thought it'd be packed full of college girls buying CDs. Silly me. The place was never packed full of anyone, let alone college girls. Maybe they shopped at Peaches, Manifest or Papa Jazz. I worked there for a few miserable months and I think I estimate the number of customers I actually rang up to be in the high tens.

    It was impossible to find anywhere to park and employees were forbidden to use the minuscule lot out front.

    Upstairs was classical and jazz. I believe it was glassed in so customers would not have to listen to whatever was playing downstairs.

    I cannot remember the name of the manager with the serious Napoleon Complex who fired me for being consistently 5 minutes late, but I am certain he went on to succeed in such a well run company in such a thriving industry.

    And no, I am not bitter. Ha. Although the only time I ever went back there was to say "hi" to Hal every once in awhile.

    Tracks ->Empty-> Blockbuster Music -> Empty ->Suncom -> Tmobile

    If I remember correctly there was a "club" over off of Huger called "Trax" or something similar and the patrons of that club would often call the store thinking it was the club.

    They should have kept this spot a Zesto's.


    2 Apr 09 at 2:47 pm

  5. I don't remember what it was called at the time, BlockBuster Music probably, but I got the Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty album at midnight the day it released from here. I just walked up from that bar that used to be beside what used to be The Joyful Alternative... Was it called "Hannah's" (she was a redhead with big...assets...that's all I remember)??? Ah, good times, I think?


    3 Jun 09 at 10:12 am

  6. Trax, off of Blossom Street and running parallel to Huger, was a lesbian bar with huge outdoor patio. It's site is now consumed by the USC greek village.


    24 Jun 09 at 10:07 am

  7. Jarah's (Spelling is wrong, pronounced like "sara" with a "J")???? yup, i think that's what it was called...


    26 Jun 09 at 9:20 am

  8. Being from Lancaster, SC, we'd come down every few weeks to Columbia and I always had to stop in that record store. interestingly, I remember it being a Camelot Music, but I may be thinking of that because Camelot had a huge store on Independence in Charlotte.

    I seem to recall the music being a bit expensive there, but I was in high school with no real job, so everything was expensive then! Living in Columbia now, I wish it had stayed a Zesto. Even if it's not my favorite place to eat, it's still loc al.

    Joe Hinson

    25 Feb 13 at 2:25 pm

  9. I worked here for a short time when it was Wherehouse Music. Shortly before I left it became Blockbuster Music which was the last thing I think it was before Suncom bought it out. It was the most fun job I ever had - sadly it wasn't full time so I had to move on to a different job...


    8 Aug 13 at 1:41 am

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