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The Market Restaurant, 1205 Assembly Street: 11 January 1985   42 comments

Posted at 1:23 am in Uncategorized

The Market Restaurant
Columbia, S.C.
Opposite State Capitol
At Intersections of:
U.S. Hwy's 1, 21, 321, 176 and 378
"Famous for Food"
Featuring Maine Lobsters
U.S. Prime Western Steaks and Dinners.
OPEN FROM 11 A.M. TIL 11:45 P.M.

I should remember this place, but for some reason I don't. From the 1970 Southern Bell Yellow Pages ad, it looks much too fancy for anything that our parents might have taken us to, and when I was picking restaurants on my own, the lobster and fish would have scared me off.

As you can see from these shots, the building is long gone, and the area is now an annoying parking lot (always half empty, but zealously patrolled) at the corner of Gervais and Assembly streets bordered on the bottom by The Mellow Mushroom and on the right by the former John Paul’s Armadillo Oil Company.

Notice also on the ad another common feature from restaurants of this era: Late hours. I really wish this had continued and that there were decent places open until "11:15" on week-nights nowdays.

Anyone know what happened to this place?

UPDATE 13 October 2009: Added a postcard of The Market and the text from the back of it.

UPDATE 4 January 2012: Updated the closing date in the post title from "1970s" to "11 January 1985" based on the comments. I was only off by 10 years or so..

Written by ted on July 23rd, 2009

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42 Responses to 'The Market Restaurant, 1205 Assembly Street: 11 January 1985'

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  1. I think the Market was the oldest restaurant in town. It opened around 1900 and closed in 1985. Until a couple of years ago at least, the parking lot you have pictured had a sign that said "Parking for Market Restaurant".


    23 Jul 09 at 7:16 am

  2. I don’t know what happened to the Market, but will add these musings: Not too long after the Assembly Street Market closed, another opened on Sunset Blvd (@ ’87) where “Nick’s” is currently located. I think that one might have been connected with Al Loftis. What I don’t know is whether the Assembly Street Market was a Loftis restaurant. It would seem plausible, since it’s close to “Al’s Upstairs,” but again, I don’t know. If that is the case, though, it might have been just a matter of his moving his restaurant.


    23 Jul 09 at 8:19 am

  3. The Shell station they are talking about in the ad was Pop Harmon's Shell station. When my dad came to Columbia from the farm back in the late 30's, he worked for Pop for several years before opening his own station. I don't know who owned it after Pop died and can't remember the year it was torn down.


    23 Jul 09 at 9:18 pm

  4. I want to say the Shell station closed in the 1970s and was bought by the restaurant for parking. The Market closed in the 1980s when the owners decided they wanted to retire. They also felt they could get more money for the property if they tore down their restaurant.

    The building had a blue neon sign that streched the Assembly Street side of the building and a tall blue sign sticking up with a lobster on top. (For a while this was the only place in town you could get a decent whole lobster.)

    The Market was also a favorite of politicians and it is safe to say that a lot of political deals and even some bills were made here.

    I believe the Assembly Street market closed sometime in the 1950s.


    24 Jul 09 at 7:25 am

  5. Thanks, Ted for finding the yellow pages ad. The phraseology used is priceless. Do you know of a source, other than the State paper, that might be used for archival photos of the older sites posted here?
    Oh, and I am ashamed to admit my ignorance, but just what is a "carousel room"?

    John R

    24 Jul 09 at 10:29 am

  6. Well, there's the "Star Reporter / Columbia Star" which has some online archives and then the "Columbia Record" which must be on microfiche somewhere..


    24 Jul 09 at 10:53 am

  7. In the 1950s our Eau Claire High School crowd could ill afford the Market but my parents and I went there a time or two. In the early 60s the Evening Optimist Club met there and I tried to attend every meeting. Always good food, good friends, and lots of good memories. Seems to me the owners/operators were Greek; anybody recall their names?

    Bill C

    17 Aug 09 at 10:50 pm

  8. The Papadea family owns the parking lot, and I believe owned the restaurant. Jim Papadea, a well known, long time resident, use to work there as a kid. While getting bids on some work I met the man (at least in his 60s) who claimed to have been part of the crew that built the lobster sign.


    25 Aug 09 at 5:08 pm

  9. Hi,

    I am John Capilos, and my grandfather and grandmother John and Chrysula Capilos used to own The Market restaurant. My grandfather got to old to run the restaurant anymore and planned to pass it down to my father Nick Capilos, however my father ended up becoming a Greek Orthodox priest instead of continuing his father's business.

    unfortunately the restaurant was before my time and I never got to eat there.

    John Capilos

    11 Jan 10 at 2:05 pm

  10. My mother said that my grandparents along with the Papadea's and some unknown others owned it as a corporation known as Pinnacle.

    John Capilos

    11 Jan 10 at 2:10 pm

  11. So Nicky finally did become a priest, ain't that something. I knew your father all the way from junior high right on up to my first semester at USC where I would see him on occasion. Had he told me he was going to be a priest in high school, I would have laughed my head off, but then years later I saw him working-out in the old European Health Spa in the Boozer Shopping Center, and he mentioned he was sincerely working on becoming a Greek Orthodox priest. At that time it made perfect sense, but I was still thrown for a loop. I bet he remembers my expression.

    Michael Taylor

    11 Jan 10 at 6:40 pm

  12. Yup, the library has the Columbia Record on microfilm at the Main Library. We would love to be an archival resource for the iamges in this blog. I copy them from time to time but there is so much to keep up with.

    Debbie Bloom

    11 Jan 10 at 8:17 pm

  13. The Market Restaurant (1940-1988) 1201-1205 Assembly Street,vacant (1989-1993), torn down in 1994, parking lot. According to Historical city directories...


    25 Apr 10 at 10:25 pm

  14. The Market Restaurant was a favorite of my parents. They went every Friday night for the wonderful dressing-stuffed lobsters. On occasion they took my brother and me. As a birthday milestone, I was treated me to one of those delicious lobsters in 1965 for my 16th birthday. It was a sad day in Columbia when the Market Restaurant closed. Such fond memories - great food and this wonderful lady who always waited our table named "Millie".

    Debbie Rivers Bass

    3 Jun 10 at 8:54 pm

  15. I miss all of these old school restaurants and am sad that they are not being replaced. About the only ones I can think of currently are Dianne's and possibly Grecian Gardens.

    What do I mean by "old school?"? Well, I know I'm showing my age, but mostly I mean a relaxing dining experience NOT marred by:

    - loud frantic music to "entertain" you
    - tables/booths so crowded together that you have to listen to your "new friends'" conversations
    - chirpy (or hungover) student wait staff who don't have answers for any of your questions
    - disposable anything
    - buzzing coasters
    - fad recipes
    - an atmosphere that's in any way designed to "move you along."

    The places I'm fondly remembering all had:

    - fantastic food that seemed uniquely theirs
    - actual fabric tablecloths and napkins, heavy metal silverware, and glass glasses
    - professional wait staff who got you what you wanted; they made it happen for you. If for some strange reason you needed to know their name you could ask them
    - a wine list that included labels not found in Kroger
    - a relaxing, unrushed atmosphere that seemed unplanned, but which was actually carefully designed
    - love for their regulars


    4 Jun 10 at 4:01 am

  16. I ate at the Market several times. For a student it was pretty expensive, but a welcome treat. At least twice I saw Frank McGuire eating there at the same time. Once, he and his assistant, Buck Freeman, sat at the table right next to me.


    26 Jun 10 at 3:35 pm

  17. I have obtained a old menu from this restaurant from an Estate sale. It may mean more to someone that has been or to a family member, I bought it thinking it was just very cool and nostaligic... if so, I may part with it... I am in St Louis Mo and the collection of old menus was very impressive, I couldn't pass it up. Thanks Jennifer

    Jennifer Dolde

    26 Sep 10 at 2:47 pm

  18. Jennifer Dolde,
    I would love to buy the Market Restaurant menu from you. Let me know if you still have this.


    12 Dec 11 at 12:32 pm

  19. I am the daughter of John Capilos , manager and owner of the Market Restaurant. The restaurant was started by the husband of Dad's sister Marina, Nick Papadea in the late 1920's. There is an archive of pictures , menus, and staff in the Richland County Library on Assembly Street. The Market was named after the Farmers Market that was in the center of Assembly Street. There is a picture of the original cafe in the library, along with articles through the years. The original restaurant closed January, 11 ,1985. That was a very sad day for myself, Dad, George Papajohn, Millie, Connie, Frances, Rosa, Louise and others. Assist. manager Gus Capilos moved on to Constantines Restaurant on the airport highway, that now is also closed. The median of Assembly Street had horse watering fountaina on each end. The last time I saw one was at the Township and Arsenal Hill. The Picture Postcard History of Columbia, has the original black and white picture of the restaurants in Columbia, including the Varsity restaurant of North Main. The original building still stands near Anthony Street of Cotton Town. a lot of Greeks lived in that neighborhood, not too far from the Greek Orthodox Church on Sumter Street. Bill and Gus Capilos, and Dena Papajohn, handled things at the Varsity. I am looking for recipes that was bases on a 1948, French chef Book, like Boston clam chowder. Dad had the best creamy chicken soup there was. That rescipe is lost to time. The Market restaurant will always be on our taste-buds. Love to all, Elaina Capilos

    Elaina Capilos

    4 Jan 12 at 8:08 pm

  20. correction to previous line, I am looking for recipes based on a 1948 French chef book... That recipe is lost to time.( The chicken soup. I do not rember lobster bisque but Newburg.

    Elaina Capilos

    4 Jan 12 at 8:14 pm

  21. To Jennifer Dolde: I wish I could see the menu, there were three covers. The RCPlibrary may need it. Thanks, Elaina Capilos
    correction to 4 Jan 12 at 8:14 PM( the chicken soup). I do not remember lobster bisque but Newburg. Manhatten and Boston Chowder.

    Elaina Capilos

    4 Jan 12 at 8:21 pm

  22. I recall going to The Market Restaurant on a regular basis as a child for the midweek special. Because of those great memories, I love a restaurant with curved, half moon booths.


    5 Jan 12 at 8:59 am

  23. For those of you looking for the recipes, Dad used A Selection of Dishes and the Chef's Reminder High Class Culinary Text Book by Charles Fellows, published by THE HOTEL MONTHLY PRESS , JOHN WILLY, Inc, 1948 ,Ridge Avenue, Evanston , Illinois. The Frugal Gourmet adapted his recipes from Charles and a copy of it is in the Columbia, SC. library. You can find Bisque and chowders there in Fellows book. I suppose the Frugal Gourmet has them too. I will stop by the library next week and drop off some recipes from the 1948 Reminder.

    Elaina Capilos

    6 Jan 12 at 5:32 pm

  24. Please pray for Fr. Papadeas, a relative of the original owner, who was a Greek Orthodox Priest, like my brother, Fr. Nick, recently passed away, after along service to Christ. Fr Nick died at age 50 in 2005. He and Gussie Capilos would close the restaurant at night. When Fr. Nick went to Greece in 1977, he was greeted by an angel who directed him to be a priest. Thus, he never went into restaurant management, although he had a degree in it. Fr. papadeas wrote the Holy Week Books and had more than 50 years as a priest, and writer. He also established many Missions.

    Elaina Capilos

    6 Jan 12 at 5:45 pm

  25. I remember many lunch meetings at The Market. I also remember owner John Capilos and after him Gus Capilos-I also sold them some of their wine selections. Many of the better restaurants in town were run by those of Greek heritage, such as The Elite Epicurean & The Market. There was also a Greek restaurant across form the USC Law school where many of us had lunch-dont remember the name of it though.

    Michael Reed

    20 Apr 12 at 6:30 am

  26. That would have been "The Winner's Circle":


    20 Apr 12 at 6:56 am

  27. David

    19 Apr 13 at 2:55 pm

  28. When I was little, in the evening when we'd return from visiting relative in Orangeburg, I would always hope the animated neon sign on the side of the restaurant would be on showing the row of little fishies swimming into the lobster's claws. I always thought I'd never be able to eat there but, have to thank the generosity of Bill Blount, again, for allowing me to go there with him and his family or it'd have been one of those things I would have always wish I'd done.

    Etienne Culler

    18 Jun 13 at 12:03 am

  29. Hi Ekaina. I loved your brother Nicky. We were at A.C. Flora together. Along with Jack Coggins, Robbie Grice,and many others. I moved to Tallahassee, Fl. and he came for a visit and to also check out FSU for his wrestling scholaship...he was such a comedian..never would have thought he'd become a priest, but he was definately a sweet, loving person..Your Mother used to come in Tapp's when I was working there and I'd help her pick out clothes for you when you were a little girl....I LOVE your family!! Love to you, Beth

    Beth Sliger

    15 Aug 13 at 3:13 am

  30. tonkatoy

    11 Oct 13 at 9:04 am

  31. When we lived in Augusta in 1956-57, whenever we were returning there from wherever we had been visiting, we ALWAYS stopped for dinner at The Market. Daddy had been a member of The Lobster Club when we lived in Tarboro, NC, and had lobsters shipped in several times a year from Maine. This restaurant was a mecca for him, as the lobster dinners were so delicious. I remember the bibs we all wore and, for awhile, still had some but they are, sadly, long gone now. While this was a very long time ago, I have happy memories of this wonderful restaurant and the food and the glorious times there with my family. Food does that, doesn't it?

    Barbara Heilbroner Campbell

    15 Dec 14 at 12:07 pm

  32. Oh the memories! Gus Capilos was my maternal grandfather (affectionately known as "Daddee"). He used to take me there all the time after he "retired" and always seemed to treat the employees well. Nothing but fond memories.

    Hunter Reams

    19 Apr 17 at 1:37 pm

  33. I have wonderful childhood memories of The Market. My daddy was a state senator and spent much of his time in Columbia. When one of us had a birthday, the family would go to Columbia and meet Daddy at The Market. Sometimes we would have a private dining room. This restaurant is woven into my childhood memories. The cloth napkins and tablecloths and the sensational food made it a very special place. The staff seemed to know exactly what to suggest for us to try. I am sure that I had my first lobster tail at The Market. I am glad to see the picture and read these comments.

    Lou Ann Long-Parris

    3 Jun 17 at 6:06 pm

  34. I so enjoyed reading all the post retelling stories of the market restaurant. I am from chester s.c., but i can remember driving 50 plus miles with my parents just to have a wonderful meal at market street. Does anyone know of a place for dining that would even come close to the market? If
    So, please email me the name and address. Thanks.

    Lisa w. Inman

    31 Dec 18 at 7:39 pm

  35. I never got to eat there but as a kid I always enjoyed the neon lights


    1 Jan 19 at 6:39 pm

  36. I am from Hong Kong and I worked in the Market when I was a student at USC in 1971-73 , I know Mr, Capilos , Ms. Williams and the girl Grace , etc. and met his son Nickie also I remember all the staffers there , but before I go further , lets see if this note got published first ..



    Prof. Albert Kwong

    29 Aug 19 at 7:51 am

  37. I started working on mid Aug 1971 when I started school in USC . I worked long hours there so that I can make my tuitionsand living expenses . The pay was $1.6 an hour but back then things were cheap , eggs were 49 cents a dozen anf milk 99 cents a gallon , gasoline 29 cents a gallon . I did not have a car so I rode my bike to work , there was Pete who manages the kitchen , grace in the office , Mr. John Capilos always ran around yelling to get things moving . There are two black cooks there named Benjamin and his brther , also Mike Capilos as the chef also , a black girl ran the pantry for cakes , and an old white guy by the name of Charlie who operated the dish machine. A big back guy call Benjamin was the helper . I was the bus boy there and in football game night it was a mad house . I worked 10-12 sometimes . The meal there for us was not free and cost 50 cents but we could order what we want except steak and lobsters . The fired chicken was the best . Then there was a big lady call Ms. Williams who always dressed up with jewel but I did not not know her role . There was another big black lady ran the oven and turkey was her specialty . I met Nick Capilos several times as he helped us to bus the table . I worked in Xmas in 1971 and Mr. Capilos gave all of us a fruit basket with nuts and bread to take home . That was the only Xmas present I have then . I left Market in 1973 as I got another job , I left SC for Texas to do my graduate school in petroleum engineering and moved all around the work looking for oil . But I always remembered the days in Market . I managed to go back to Columbia to visit Capilos in their house but he got alzheimer disease so could not recognised me . I talked to his wife , But later years I heard they bother passed away , I also met Mike Capilos who ran a Greek restaurant in Columbia then with one of the ex cook of Market , but later I heard he closed the restaurant also . I am now retired living in Hong Kong and the memory of Market always lingered in my mind . Its the golden time when things were cheap and people were warm and the world was at peace . I will write more later if you responds ....

    Prof. Albert Kwong

    29 Aug 19 at 8:13 am

  38. a typo error on above , Mike Capilos should be Gus Capilos . I am also sad to hear that John's daughter Eleana has passed away a few years back . I also know that Nickie Capilos passed away earlier after he became a priest . I have letters written by Mrs. Capilos to me after our visit in Columbia and before her death , I shall see if I can post it in here . I am sorry to see the Market site now an empty parking lot , despite I was the only China boy working in the restaurant then among all blacks , I dont feel any discrimination whatsoever , we worked together and eat together , I shall always remember the Capilos who had helped me in my most difficult time . I also later found out Mr. Capilos has served in the army in WW2 and stationed in Grum .

    Prof. Albert Kwong

    29 Aug 19 at 9:04 pm

  39. I really wish I had gone there growing up. Though I'm sure my parents knew it would be hard to get me to eat anything they were known for.


    1 Sep 19 at 12:45 am

  40. IA lot of civic clubs met at the Market. I remember seeing a large number of banners in a closet each representing a club that met there.


    1 Sep 19 at 4:06 pm

  41. As a young man - boy, actually, I had a couple of opportunities to eat at the Market with my Dad. I thought it was a memorable place. The food was excellent and you had the feeling that you were in a nicer place than what was typical. I also remember the neon signs on the façade. It was the most distinctive place in Columbia back in its day.

    Harold Ward

    9 Feb 21 at 10:51 pm

  42. So sad to see in today's obituaries that wife of John Capilos, who operated The Market restaurant has passed away. That restaurant was a cornerstone of downtown Columbia for decades.

    Randy Herald

    1 Feb 22 at 12:06 pm

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