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Royal Crown Cola Bottling Co / John Paul's Armadillo Oil Company, 1215 Assembly Street: 2006   17 comments

Posted at 11:33 pm in historic,restaurants

John Paul's Armadillo Oil Company was one of those places that never registered with me. First, there was the name, which didn't give me a good idea of what to expect. "Hmm, southwest? But then why drag the Pope into it?" Second, it opened while I was living out of town and third, it was in the Vista so parking was an issue.

I'm not sure if John Paul's started in Greenville and expanded to Columbia or vice-versa, but there's apparently still one up there.

As you can see from the facade work currently being done on the building, it was at one time the Royal Crown Cola Bottling Co, and if there's anything more Southern than RC Cola, it could only be RC with a Moon Pie. I would have to guess from the style that the RC incarnation may go back as far as the 30s or 40s. I'm saying that the John Paul incarnation closed in 2006 based on this restaurant review, but in that case it seems odd that there are still chairs inside three years later.

(Hat tip to commenter Tom)

UPDATE 29 June 2011 -- I'm not sure where this mural on the south wall of the building came from. It certainly does not seem to be there on the pictures I took initially (see the first shot above in particular), but neither does it seem to be new. I can only guess that it had been painted over at one time (though who paints brick?) and was uncovered in palimpsest fashion:

Written by ted on July 11th, 2009

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17 Responses to 'Royal Crown Cola Bottling Co / John Paul's Armadillo Oil Company, 1215 Assembly Street: 2006'

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  1. This was a regular gathering spot for lunch when I used to work downtown.

    It was 'okay' but for this type of menu (steaks, burgers, etc), I preferred Longhorn's.

    I remember they had all sorts of mounted game heads on the walls and all the seats were lined with cow (or some other type of animal) fur.

    Brian

    13 Jul 09 at 7:52 am

  2. Before it was "John Paul's," I think this building was owned or used by the Cromer's people for a long time. Don't recall exactly what for, though. "John Paul's" moved in in about '98.

    Also, "John Paul's" was one of the numerous businesses at 806 St. Andrews. I assumed they were the same ownership, but that one lacked the "Armadillo Oil Co." That one closed in '92.

    badger

    13 Jul 09 at 8:46 am

  3. The Chairs inside belong to the Garibaldi's Restaurant Group which purchased the building and has been holding on to it the past couple of years. I believe that work has begun on turning this into a new restaurant from that group.

    Larry

    14 Jul 09 at 10:50 am

  4. I worked as front house manager for almost seven years at John Paul's. I am sorry that you never visited our restaurant. We served freshly hand carved steaks (not like the chain restaurant mentioned above) as well as local produce delivered daily.

    We did not operate with large scale advertising, yet opted for spreading the word through happy customers. The original JP's is in Greenville and has been open for over twenty years.

    Unfortunately, the owners had to choose between their personal lives or the business. The group who owns Garibaldi's bought the building in July of 2006 and planned to open a high end seafood restaurant. Obviously this concept was not a great idea in Columbia where Red Lobster and Olive Garden are voted 'Best Of' each year by our lovely citizens. Recently, work has begun to move more quickly so a plan for the new restaurant has emerged.

    Vanessa

    27 Aug 09 at 5:51 pm

  5. hahahaha high end in columbia? thats a good one

    Michael

    28 Aug 09 at 12:02 am

  6. I always vote for Captain D's in those readers polls.

    MR BILL

    28 Aug 09 at 9:38 am

  7. The story I've been told/pieced together is this:

    On the side (now an alley) was the office, the existing building was the "factory" floor. Originally Chero Cola, the name on the building was changed to Nehi and then Chero became RC Cola. Sometime in the late 50s or early 60s Cromers bought the build, made changes (covered the facade) and turned the space into a office for a time. Popcorn and such was made in the building next door ( Old State Armory).

    Jeff

    14 Jan 10 at 10:53 pm

  8. I went to JP's Armadillo a few times. It always felt like an incomplete Longhorn's - something was missing. It laso felt like the food was cobbled together very fast and not much cre was given to it.

    JP

    JP

    11 Mar 10 at 8:54 am

  9. Built in 1939 (there was residential at the site before) as a Nehi Bottling plant (1940-1948), changed the name to Royal Crown Bottling company in 1949 and stayed a bottling plant until 1953. Then the building became Arrow Finance (1953-1955). 1956 Brabham Seed and Hardware opened there and stayed until 1975. Eventually Cromer's peanuts used it as a warehouse until 1997. John Paul's bought it in 1998 and stayed there until 2004, when Garibaldi's bought the building. The address was listed as 1215 and 1211, it is now, just 1215.

    Jeff

    25 Apr 10 at 10:21 pm

  10. I work at the john pauls in greenville, and have for almost 3 years now. John Paul by the way is the actual owners name. I never seen the one in columbia when it was opened and i dont know how business was there, but here in greenville it is very popular. Almost all of our customers are regulars and have been for years, most of our bar regulars have been coming in since the doors opened 18 years ago. John Paul and his wife Gwen take great pride in the restaurant and are in there almost every day making sure the customers are happy and the food goes out in a timely manner.

    J

    19 May 10 at 12:20 pm

  11. The mural was painted this year and completed right before you took the pictures. I believe the idea was to give the impression the sign/ad had been there for decades. Apparently they succeeded :)

    Jeff B.

    20 Jul 11 at 10:26 pm

  12. Huh. Cool!

    ted

    20 Jul 11 at 11:17 pm

  13. I think we went to John Paul's Armadillo Oil Company one time only, and the steak was delicious and the interior was nicely done. We just didn't get a chance to visit again before it was gone. Is this related to the place that was over by Chuck E. Cheese on St. Andrew's Road (don't remember if there actually WAS a Chuck E. Cheese there). I think I visited that place under 3 or 4 nameplates...

    Blaine

    25 Aug 11 at 2:29 pm

  14. I went by there over the weekend, there is a new balck and white neon sign on the building that says "Cola."

    Tom

    10 Jun 12 at 8:47 am

  15. This site is owned by the Garibaldi's group. They have been planing on opening a place since John Paul's closed.

    O'Reilly

    12 Jun 12 at 10:38 am

  16. There is an article about Cola's opening this week in Free Times.

    http://www.free-times.com/index.php?cat=1992912064202144&ShowArticle_ID=12291306122926738

    Matt

    13 Jun 12 at 12:22 pm

  17. BArc777

    15 Jun 12 at 3:43 pm

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