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Capital Cabana Motor Inn / The Pirates' Cove Supper Club, 1901 Assembly Street: 1970s   26 comments

Posted at 12:32 am in closing

Going by this ad from the Southern Bell Yellow Pages, Capital Cabana Motor Inn was a happening sort of place in 1970. Judging from the graphic, the place was huge, and from the text, unaffiliated. Nowdays you would expect something that size to be part of a national chain, if only for reservations purposes. (In fact, Ocean Boulevard Myrtle Beach is about the only place where unaffiliated motels seem to hang on). I've got to admire going for a tropical island theme in landlocked Columbia (where even the state palm has a hard time in the winter and cool sea breezes are notably absent in the summer). Bring your BankAmericard!

Google suggests that 1901 Assembly is currently the Columbia headquarters for BB&T (though of course in today's environment they could be gone by the end of the week..). I'm not sure when the Capital Cabana was torn down, but since I can't really remember it at all, I'm going to say sometime in the 1970s.

I love the graphic for the Inn's attached restaurant The Pirates' Cove Supper Club. Today, it would set up all sorts of opportunities for quips such as I'd sure like to plunder her booty, but of course I would never stoop to anything like that.

UPDATE 2 Apr 2009: Added the seperate 1970 Yellow Page ad for The Pirates' Cove (now you can see her nose if you look closely).

UPDATE 11 July 2011: Added picture of a helicopter apparently about to land on top of the Capital Cabana from an old Chamber of Commerce promotional book.

Written by ted on March 26th, 2009

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26 Responses to 'Capital Cabana Motor Inn / The Pirates' Cove Supper Club, 1901 Assembly Street: 1970s'

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  1. Blast from the past!

    I had totally forgotten this place. It basically filled that block on Assembly St. The giant sign on the front of the building was unavoidable, and they advertised everywhere.

    My family ate Sunday dinner at every restaurant east of the Congaree except this one. I think it was a little too toney for us. They had a bar, and the pirate cutie in hot pants gave a sort of adult vibe. I used to stare at that drawing and think her mouth was sort of fishlike. Where's her nose?

    I believe the building was converted to offices briefly before it was torn down.


    26 Mar 09 at 7:28 am

  2. It was still standing in the late 1980s. It's bar had become a strip club called "Dicky Birds."


    27 Mar 09 at 5:50 am

  3. And the guy who ran it used to run Wendy Ethel's (named after his then-wife) on Main Street.


    27 Mar 09 at 8:45 am

  4. Yes! I forgot about the Dicky Bird years. 1987ish.

    Wendy Ethel Goller is now a realtor in Beaufort. She still looks great, by the way!


    27 Mar 09 at 3:35 pm

  5. Ted, keeping on the pirate theme and your wayback machine phonebook, what was the building that Casa Lindas is now in called? I think it finally closed down in the late 80s early 90s.


    28 Mar 09 at 7:19 am

  6. I never ate in the restaurant, but the lounge was packed every night. The best part was that so many people were laughing and having a good time that it masked the cheesy sound system they had. The waitresses were always absolutely HOT.

    There were several sordid stories floating around about some of our elected officials and public figures renting afternoon rooms for a couple of hours. EDITORIAL NOTE (Not that I would ever believe these stories to be true)


    28 Mar 09 at 12:14 pm

  7. Do you mean the Casa Linda's on Beltline? I think that was previously the Mandarin Chinese restaurant (could be wrong). There was a restaurant somewhere in that area called "Smuggler's Inn," but I'm not sure of the exact location. There was also a "Sir George's" in the vicinity in the same time frame (late 70s/early 80s).


    28 Mar 09 at 12:56 pm

  8. I'll see if I run across it..


    28 Mar 09 at 12:58 pm

  9. Terry -- are you thinking of Wit's End?


    28 Mar 09 at 4:25 pm

  10. Yeah, it was called the Smugglers Inn. I am pretty sure it was the same building as Casa Lindas.


    30 Mar 09 at 5:04 am

  11. I was too young to have gone to the Capital Cabana in its heyday, but I remember hearing that part of the pool had a glass wall which made it visible from the bar. Sounded really cool to me back then. Now - not so much.


    30 Mar 09 at 12:34 pm

  12. My Columbia years were 1969 until 1987 and I knew The Capital Cabana first as a Checker and State Cab Company taxi driver circa 1974 or thereabouts.The taxi could drop off or pick up passengers under that front office tunnel which you can see in the graphic above.
    Many years later I became one of the last second shift desk clerks at this property. This was the second half of 1987 and the new name of the building had become The St. James Inn. The upstairs restaurant was still active but the bar was not. The signature item of the motor inn...a glass wall where bar patrons could watch swimmers diving into the pool....had been either boarded up or removed by the time I got there which would have been around August of 1987. If I recall correctly the bar was for rent then if an investor wanted to come forward but nobody was interested. I never saw Dickey Birds and I believe that they had already vacated maybe a year earlier.The phone inquiries about Dickey Birds kept going however, and I kept their new address handy as a public service. I hope they appreciated the free promo.
    The business rented parking spaces to people who worked downtown for a monthly fee. There were also residential "monthlies" who paid maybe $385.00 to live in a motel room as an apartment. By this time the traditional overnight downtown motel guest was vanishing.
    When Pope John II visited Columbia that year in September..these Secret Service types showed up and I had to ride the service elevator with them to the roof. A maintenance man was up there and these guys spotted him and were spooked about why would he be up there? The Pope would come down Assembly Street that afternoon.
    Later that year The St. James Inn became The Capital Inn. The reason was the new bank building construction going on a block away near Jefferson Square calling itself "Capital Plaza". The hotel was hoping for an unofficial name tie-in but I guess that never really took off. I departed around December but still would phone the front desk as late as maybe February of 1988 to see how the staff was doing. After that I lost contact with the building, which I considered to be architecturally a splendid addition to downtown Columbia.

    Office Roger

    20 Apr 09 at 12:39 pm

  13. Great comment -- thanks!


    20 Apr 09 at 12:51 pm

  14. Took my Basic Training at Fort Jackson in 1967, Capital Cabana was such a relief from trainning when we got a pass. I sent several letters home on stationary from there that shows it was part of the Best Western/ Best Eatern chain. Remember the bar, resturant, and waitresses very fondly.


    9 Mar 10 at 1:53 pm

  15. Bill - appreciate your comment. You're probably about 8 years older than me. I remember as a child all the buses and taxis bringing the Ft. Jackson soldiers downtown on the weekends. In uniform! And they all seemed to be having a good time and were well-behaved. They mixed right in with families like us at movies and restaurants.


    9 Mar 10 at 6:00 pm

  16. Ah, yes, the bar with the glass wall to the pool Sometimes, when the pool was nearly empty, bar patrons would see a couple getting amorous in the pool; they must have thought that since they were under water from the neck down, nobody would see what was going on. A few times I was there, one of those couples would come into the bar later, dressed but still smelling of chlorine. When they'd notice swimmers in the pool visible through the glass, they'd realize that they'd been less discreet than they'd planned. We had a few laughs about that.

    Swimmers who knew about the glass wall would dive down and make faces at bar patrons. Could be either amusing or annoying.

    No Name

    6 Feb 12 at 8:35 am

  17. tonkatoy

    11 Oct 13 at 7:51 am

  18. I do not remember it being a part of Best Western.


    11 Oct 13 at 12:27 pm

  19. In the mid 70's, I played guitar in the Pirate's Cove house band called Stonewall. I have lot's of great memories of that place! I remember a guy came and told the manager that he was John Phillips (of the Mama's & Papas) and he was just wandering around the country picking up gigs in bars... They ran an ad in the newspaper and packed the place, we did several shows with him. Turns out of course, it wasn't the real John Phillips. Still a lot of fun though.
    The Capital Cabana was also the first place that I stayed in Columbia when I moved here at 5 yrs old. My father did a job interview here and that is where we stayed. The glass elevator was enthralling as was the pool that was visible in the bar. What a cool place in it's day!

    JJ Mackey

    4 Oct 14 at 3:31 pm

  20. In 1986 I had an employee that lived at The Capital Cabana, he was one of the "monthlies" as Officer Roger noted in his comment, 20 Apr 09.
    Dickey Birds was alive and well at he the time and whenever I would give my employee a ride home in the afternoons, we'd stop in for a few beers. I remember Dickey Birds being worn down inside and kind of "nasty" and "smelly".
    I never saw a "Glass waal" looking into the pool, it was more like a window looking into the pool.
    It wasn't a BIG window, If I remember correctly it was only about 4ft X 5ft. So, if there was a "Glass Wall" it wan't there in 1986.
    And you DID NOT want to tip any of the strippers, if you did they would not leave you alone, they would keep coming by trying to get you to tip them again.
    My employee wound up dating one of the strippers and she moved in with him at the hotel. At that time Capital Cabana had already seen it's glory days come and go. The hotel was in it's GORY days at that point.


    5 Oct 14 at 12:49 am

  21. Damn, I read my comment twice and still made typo's.
    Kind of late at night, or early in the morning as the case may be.


    5 Oct 14 at 12:52 am

  22. I worked as a bellman at the Capital Cabana summer and fall of 1966. I was a student at USC and the tips were great for a college kid. Several name groups played in the lounge, including The Angels who were one of the 60's girl groups. I got to meet a couple of the members. Exciting stuff for a 19 year old from a small town! The new Atlanta Falcons stayed there when playing a preseason game in Columbia and I got to go with the coach on bed check with the room pass key. Learned a lot about the world as a bellman. There was a young woman named Linda who worked the front desk who, I found out later, was in love we me! If only I had known... Fond memories. Long time ago.


    16 Nov 14 at 1:25 am

  23. I have a pack of matches from there. 6/24/2020

    Jack Roe

    24 Jun 20 at 8:13 pm

  24. Marty Rose and the Notables Band use to play there all the time

    jay king

    7 Oct 20 at 4:27 pm

  25. Probably need to add [motel] to this one. Also it seems it was still operational into the 1980s, with the pool still blue in HistoricAerials. I'm not sure what the name was by this time.

    Aaron J.

    13 Jul 21 at 8:14 pm

  26. I got married in Columbia in July '86 and the bachelor party was at Dickey Birds. Both my in-laws have passed on now and we don't have any family left in the area. Miss going to the Midlands. Great times there.


    14 Jul 21 at 9:09 am

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