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Hardee's / The Original Italian Pie, 3246 Forest Drive: July 2009   19 comments

Posted at 5:16 pm in restaurants

Well, recent weeks have not been good to pizza operations on Forest Drive!

I liked The Original Italian Pie but found it rather frustrating in a couple of respects.

Why did I like it? Well, they had a quite good pizza, with ingredients like "kalamata olives" which, while getting more common, still are hard to find. The crust was not too thick but neither was it too thin and was chewy without being mushy. They also had bottles of olive oil on the tables to drizzle over the pizza, and the staff was friendly. In fact at the time I was going fairly often, they got to know me by sight, and would just bring out a pitcher of unsweet tea for me so I could read before and after my pizza without them having to keep making refill passes.

Why was it frustrating? The main thing was the hours. For various reasons, I am often uable to make supper before 9:30 at the earliest. That was OK initially, since while they closed at 9:00 during the week, Thur-Sat, they were open until 10:30 and I could drop by then.

After a few months however, they went into the deadly Well, we weren't too busy, so we closed the kitchen early cycle. This is a prime violation of rule #1!, and really ticks me off. I got caught in it a few times, then one night I thought I was safe as I was able to make it at 9:15, a full hour and 15 min before the posted closing and they still sprang it on me. I confess I got as argumentative as I ever do in a restaurant (which isn't much, but..). Luckily, I had the support of a feisty woman who had come in just behind me and we did get served. After that, they changed the hours posted on their door, leaving just a dash for the closing time if I recall correctly (which is, of course Sign #1), and I was not able to eat there at night anymore.

In fact I rarely got to eat there at all, since I don't usually have pizza for lunch during the week if I'm going to have to be awake and thinking during the afternoon, but I was able to go for Saturday or Sunday lunch from time to time. The closing of the Italian Pie at Sandhill was not a good sign, but didn't seem to have much effect on the Forest Drive store. However, the last time I was there, in early July, I believe, I did notice that Sign #6 had come into play: The olive oil bottles on each table were gone.

I don't know what happened in the end. As you can see from the pictures, the place is going to re-open as The Pizza Joint, so perhaps the owners just switched franchaises. That doesn't seem too likely to me however as TPJ is a "late night" chain, which was definitely not the strategy of The Italian Pie.

I encountered The Pizza Joint when I was working in Augusta. They have a location on Broad Street, and one night when it was too late to hit The Mellow Mushroom, I decided to check it out. Frankly, I wasn't too impressed since it's a New York style operation and NY is not my favorite pizza. The smallest pie was also 14-inches, which means that a single guy has to order by the slice, which I really don't like. (Also, that part of Broad Street was a good place to get panhandled).

I see that since I moved back here from Aiken, they have opened a branch there. I guess they are gradually moving East from Augusta. Perhaps if it works out here, they will hit Florence and Myrtle Beach..

They appear to be building a dining patio -- if they are able to get that done and open as the weather starts to cool down a bit, it should be very nice.

UPDATE 23 Aug 2009: Changed the post title to add Hardee's after being reminded in the comments that a Hardee's was on this lot (in a different building) before the Italian Pie.

Written by ted on August 20th, 2009

19 Responses to 'Hardee's / The Original Italian Pie, 3246 Forest Drive: July 2009'

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  1. This was really disappointing. Their BBQ chicken pizza was pretty good, as were their calzones. Is it "the economy" that's killing off all the local places, or is it just the fact no one bothers with going to them?

    Matthew

    21 Aug 09 at 7:56 am

  2. The economy is part of it, but I think a lot of businesses signed leases at high rent levels without thinking what would happen a few years down the road. Bad location is another problem. The other part of the problem is that Columbia does not embrace NEW very well. For a college town the lack of innovation and expansion is appalling. Look at the number of national chains that won't even look at Columbia, but are happy to be in Greenville or Spartanburg or Charleston. When McDonalds has a shot at winning 'Best of' in this city, what can you expect.

    Larry

    21 Aug 09 at 4:58 pm

  3. Pizza Joint Rocks!! You can get a slice anyway you want it and the slice is huge!! I like mine with feta & sundried toms

    discjo

    22 Aug 09 at 4:40 am

  4. We really liked Italian Pie. Food was always very good and huge portions. Was expensive, though.

    To me this building will always be Hardee's. I watched them build it when I was in high school, and even then I thought it was odd to put a fast food place in the middle of a long block that traffic is racing past instead of near an intersection, and in a residential, suburban part of town.

    Dennis

    22 Aug 09 at 6:09 am

  5. I will always remember the Hardee's too. I think it is the same building. I also remember Substation II being there for a short while.

    MR BILL

    24 Aug 09 at 10:07 am

  6. Was it the same building? I remember the Hardee's as being smallier than the IPIE. Certainly it wouldhave had to have been heavily re-worked (for instance the IPIE bathrooms are large ADA single-user ones and Hardee's weren't).

    ted

    24 Aug 09 at 11:49 am

  7. They redid the Hardees in 7 oaks shopping center and made it the wild hare. I think they added on to it a little.

    MR BILL

    24 Aug 09 at 1:02 pm

  8. It definitely was a Hardee's. My sister worked there. I think it was a Sub Station II as well. But they moved almost immediately across the street, I believe where Duke's is now.

    Nobody

    25 Aug 09 at 7:45 am

  9. The Sub Station moved from the Duke's location TO the old Hardee's.

    Random Poster

    25 Aug 09 at 8:52 am

  10. Yes, ted, that's 95% the same building Hardees was.

    The Hardees remodeled a few years before it closed. That's when the bathrooms finally reached ADA compliance. Might be the reason they remodeled.

    Originally they had this odd setup where the drive up window and cashier was its own little glass booth (on the left side as you face the building) with dining area between the booth and kitchen. The food got to the window in a little chrome wire basket that travelled on a track over your head, something like a garage door opener. Fascinating. I swear I am not making this up -- anyone else remember it?

    Dennis

    25 Aug 09 at 9:11 am

  11. I lived really near there in the 70s and absolutely remember the strange setup for the drive-thru window.

    The few times I went to the Italian Pie, it seemed awfully expensive and the service was pretty rotten. Hate to see it become another empty building, though.

    Cary

    27 Aug 09 at 5:31 pm

  12. Oops! My dumb. Should have read the rest of the story to find out that another place is going in there.

    Cary

    27 Aug 09 at 5:33 pm

  13. Cary,
    I remember the food basket. The only one I have ever seen like it.

    Eric S

    28 Aug 09 at 3:10 pm

  14. The Hardee's in Five Points may have had the same drivethru setup at one time.

    David H

    28 Aug 09 at 3:40 pm

  15. I used to work at the Italian Pie and the management was absolutely horrible. I have proudly been in the service industry for almost 6 years and have loved every job I've had. I even worked at an Applebee's for two years making incredible money and thoroughly enjoying coming to work. I had a lot of good friends who had worked at the Italian Pie for many years so I decided to pick it up as a second job. There'd be days where the manager would leave the store while there was not a single person working in the kitchen, so if you got any tables while they were gone you'd have to cook and serve your tables, which is absolutely ridiculous. I quit my job there before working for three weeks. There was no drive or common goal, no direction, no discipline. It seemed that the people that did work there (even though many of them were close friends of mine) were just too lazy and enjoyed not having to do anything and only making 30 or so dollars a shift.. they were too lazy to get a job that actually made you do anything. I went to the Pizza Joint yesterday to check it out.. I was VERY impressed! The atmosphere is very friendly and is MUCH different than the Italian Pie. The staff is out of this world friendly and the food was freakin awesome! It was only there second day open - and since they're waiting to do a real grand opening until they've worked all the kinks out, there wasn't a whole lot of business going on. But the bar looks amazing, and it seems like somewhere I would really enjoy hanging out. The prices are not to high, either, very much unlike the Italian Pie. Not to mention the MANGEMENT was not onl THERE but working hard and even visiting tables and such, which I NEVER saw at Italian Pie. I think a lot of the old regular Italian Pie customers may not enjoy it, because it's not a more upscale Italian dining experience.. but for familys and young fun people it seems ideal. They have a whole lot of beer on tap(in the 20's) and plenty of TV's to enjoy a sporting event. Yay for the Pizza Joint:)

    Jamie

    23 Sep 09 at 4:31 pm

  16. Thanks to Jamie letting us know that The Pizza Joint was open I went today for lunch. I was expecting and would have had patience for hiccups, but there really was none. There are currently two tables (covered and taken) out on the deck, and a couple more uncovered and being a nice day, decided to sit at an uncovered one. I went in just to let them know we were out there and to ask if it was alright and they sent a staff person out. Manager brought our food and said something about tomorrow was the opening day, but maybe he meant the patio. They were slammed inside. Never have seen anywhere close to that many people at Italian Pie. Server said supposedly two more Joints in the Columbia area. Would love one in Irmo. We will certainly go back, but it's difficult to get over there, in & out & back in an hour through no fault of the restaurant. It looked to be a very nice tap selection, although I had sweet tea!! Aiken's is horrible. Augusta serves you in 12oz plastic cups on the deck, but still charges you pint prices. Evan's taps are incredible. Welcome to Columbia!! Pizza Slice (feta & jerk chicken) was tasty.

    Jonathan

    29 Sep 09 at 1:55 pm

  17. OK, based on that, and a good review from my sister, I tried it tonight. It was not bad, but the crust and sauce have a bit of sweetness to them that is not really to my taste. Also, they need some bigger napkins. I don't see it becoming one of my regular haunts, but nothing I would reject if someone proposed going there.

    ted

    29 Sep 09 at 9:39 pm

  18. I remember the little basket that carried your order over the dining room to the little drive-up window. Always waited for it to stop and spill the order but it never did.

    Sam

    10 May 10 at 1:42 pm

  19. I loved that little basket! I totally remember that!

    OverMachoGrande

    21 Jul 11 at 7:48 pm

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