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The Palace Restaurant, 1404 Gervais Street: 1990s   24 comments

Posted at 12:01 am in historic,restaurants

Here's another place that was always on my "hmm, maybe I'll try that someday" list, but which in the event, I never got around to.

There are probably several reasons for that. For one thing, downtown Gervais Street is a location I only very rarely find myself at during lunch time. For another, the two left and right outrider words beside "Restaurant" (hard to read here, I think the closing-cam lens needs cleaning) are "Billiards" & "Saloon", which made me think that the place might be a bit on the rough side, and probably smoky. I guess I'll never know now.

UPDATE 5 Dec 2010: Added full street address given by commenter Andy S.

Written by ted on April 25th, 2008

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24 Responses to 'The Palace Restaurant, 1404 Gervais Street: 1990s'

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  1. Odell Polson was the owner who recently passed away-- A great guy -- The Palace was open for years- The menu featured great home cooking as well as burgers etc. A feature item was the Knowzit Burger - named after the character Tv weatherman Joe Pinner's child show character; it was a hamburger with a fried egg on it- There was a pool room in the back for the beer crowd. Odell made what I consider the best damn chilli in SC every day in a 5 gallon pot!! I miss it

    KC

    29 Apr 08 at 2:20 pm

  2. Well, now I really am sorry I never went in!

    ted

    29 Apr 08 at 2:31 pm

  3. Odell made one of the best hot dogs around this area. Fresh homemade chilli and great fries. He also served some of the sweetest tea in the area. If you were on a no grease diet you did not need to be there. But if not then you were in hog heaven. Really miss the place.

    JR

    2 May 08 at 9:32 am

  4. The Palace was on the first floor. Upstairs was a honky-tonk called The Odyssey Club. It was a late night place to drink and dance. I spent a few Fri. and Sat. nights up those stairs. This was in the early 70's.

    gary

    4 May 08 at 11:53 am

  5. I went to the poolroom back in '97 for lunch a few times. I worked at the Nation's Bank (now BOA) building across the street. Food was fast-food but it was very good.

    J.P.

    6 May 08 at 3:02 pm

  6. From 1968 until 1971 I worked at Computerecords which was next door to this establishment. I remember going there for lunch many times, the food was god and the cook was one of the best I've ever seen. Several years later (1975) I started working for PMS in their computer room on Lady st. and the Palace was still going strong -- with the same cook. Thanks for evoking some veery fond memories

    PAUL

    20 Aug 08 at 9:00 pm

  7. I worked at PMSC in the Bruce Bldg. on Lady St. in the mid 1980s. This was a regular spot for lunch on Friday. Managed to get in a couple of games of pool while chowing an outstanding cheeseburger and fries. Good memory.

    Jim

    3 Oct 08 at 3:50 pm

  8. Hi, Jim - I also worked at PMSC in the Bruce Building in the mid 80s. My department would slip out for two hour lunches and go to Charlie's Cue 'n' Cushion on Rosewood to shoot pool and drink beer. Life was much simpler then.

    Dennis

    4 Oct 08 at 8:14 am

  9. My grandad worked here off and on before he died in 1980. When we would visit Columbia, he'd take me here and let me watch the guys in back shooting pool while he worked. At 6 years old I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Some things you just never get back, that experience was one of them.

    Chris

    30 Jan 09 at 8:12 am

  10. Oooh..speaking of that, does anyone remember across the street from S&S there was the "Toddler House" sort of like "Waffle House" is now? I used to look at it while inside S&S, but never did go there..now it's gone too. Now when you think of the word "Toddler" you think it was some kind of Kid place for little kids to play in, but nope, not that.

    Del

    12 Apr 09 at 7:31 pm

  11. It was a Toddle House. My wife was a telephone operater working the night shift at the Hampton Street building. I would sometimes pick her up for "lunch" in the middle of the night and that was about the only place to go in that area. They did have a great banana cream pie.
    There were a few of them around town. There were also similar places called Huddle Houses, I think these were the forerunners to Waffle House.I think one of the guys that started the Waffle House chain worked in a Toddle House when they decided to start their own restaurant business.

    Mike L.

    12 Apr 09 at 8:41 pm

  12. Thanks..I didnt know for sure. I knew it was "Toddle" or "Toddler House"..my Dad used to go there every once and a while. Is the building still there? Or has it been torn down in the name of "progress" that our fair Mayor is doing so good at?

    Del

    12 Apr 09 at 8:57 pm

  13. I used to work at 104.7 WNOK who's offices were a block up the road (1717 Gervais Street)... Odell, his wife Nancy and sons worked there... and we're the salt of the earth. Many o times working at WNOK, my wife and I didn't have the money for lunch... and Odell and Nancy would just let us set a "tab". I remember sitting at the counter next to Joe Pinner and Joe had a rather large tab for the month... Odell would rib Joe all the time. The Palace had the worlds hottest grits! And of course a pound of butter was scooped on top. I often think of the people at the Palace... it was an honor to be part of that era!

    Tony Gervais Street

    20 Feb 10 at 9:25 pm

  14. I agree with JR & Jim above that the food was great. I especially remember the cheeseburger. Back in the mid 70s I would sometimes go to the Odyssey Club. I had never given the Palace much thought but being hungry one evening, I stopped in for convenience sake & was pleasantly surprised. From then on, whenever I was in that area it was on my short list. Sorry I never got to know the owners. Judging from the earlier posts I really missed out.

    John R

    21 Feb 10 at 10:09 am

  15. Worked at SB&Co and made the walk to the Palace many times, open face hot roast beef sandwich with gravey(on the fries too) every Friday. Odell was great! He had the same short order cook for years.

    Dan G.

    11 Oct 10 at 2:08 pm

  16. From June 1987 to whenever The Palace closed a few years ago, I ate literally hundreds of meals at The Palace. Having worked at the SC Dept. of Education, which is located directly behind The Palace, it was very convenient for the employees of our agency to eat one or more meals a day there. The entertainment provided by Odell, Nancy, Ray, and Connie was worth the price of admission. During the video poker craze, it is hard to tell how much money was deposited in Odell's video poker machines. The Palace is still missed by those of us that are still working at the Dept. of Education.

    David S.

    28 Oct 10 at 6:34 pm

  17. Ted: It appears the exact address is 1404 Gervais St.

    Andy S.

    5 Dec 10 at 11:47 pm

  18. Thanks! Fixed.

    In the early days for some reason I hadn't got it into my head that full addresses were important.

    ted

    5 Dec 10 at 11:51 pm

  19. On Thursdays Odell and Nancy offered fried chicken livers. Excellent! Their fried chicken was always great.

    Nancy called everyone "Dear," and she meant it. Their little granddaughter would stay there sometimes and visit all the tables, wearing pink high heels and carrying a little pink book bag. The whole family was super.

    Ellen

    2 Mar 11 at 10:54 am

  20. The building at 1404 was the S&H Green Stamps catalog store back in the '50s.

    The under-50 generation(s) may not know this, but many retailers -- grocers, pharmacies, gas stations -- used to give trading stamps. The more $$$ you spent, the more stamps you got. You'd save the stamps in a booklet designed for that purpose. When you had enough stamps, you could trade them for items from the trading stamp company's catalog. Kinda like frequent flier miles.

    There were competing brands of trading stamps. Columbia had three. The biggest at the time was S&H Green Stamps. There was another called Gold-something (Gold Bond, perhaps?). And there was an up-and-coming brand called Greenbax. Retailers who gave stamps were affiliated with only one of those. E.g. Colonial Stores gave S&H, Piggly Wiggly gave Greenbax, and Winn Dixie gave Gold-whatever.

    Sometimes, that would influence where you did business ("gee, I only need 30 more S&H stamps so I can get that goodies I've been drooling over in the catalog"), so you'd go to a store that gave THAT brand of stamps. So if you wanted something from the Greenbax catalog, you'd be more likely to shop at The Pig, than at Colonial.

    This building on Gervais was S&H. At some point later -- mid-'60s? -- I think Greenbax may have been in there.

    There was a pair of old B&W of my parents and cute little toddler me -- must have been taken around 1955 -- on that block of Gervais St. In the first, the old man was scowling. In the second, we're coming out of the green stamp store, the old man beaming and carrying a tiny little-kid-sized wooden rocking chair that they had gotten with saved-up green stamps. Some amateur photographer had taken both shots. After the second, he stopped my folks, told them what he had, and sent them the prints once he developed them. I used that rocker near full time until my little fanny outgrew it; my younger siblings used it after that.

    Over the years, my mama got a lot of stuff for each of us at the green stamp store. I think my first tiny tricycle may have come from there, too.

    Trading stamps were in decline by the mid-60s. At some point, the green stamp store closed. By the mid '70s, there was a bar/night club -- basically a hook-up joint -- in the upstairs, and the Palace opened.

    And yes, there was a Toddle House next door, between the green stamp store and the WIS building. Toddle House and its main competitor, Dobbs House, were like Waffle House is now. There were several Toddle Houses in Columbia (another, perhaps in North Main); there was a Dobbs House in Lady St., may have been near the corner of Sumter. The Toddle House on Gervais was leveled to make the new expanded parking lot behind the WIS building.

    Sid

    8 Feb 12 at 1:57 pm

  21. man, those pics of the Palace & Odyssey club are haunting,,, building looks so empty.....,,

    1972,, the odyssey rocked, someone has called it a honky- tonk... maybe a little, but, not totally....

    had the time of my life in that building, i'll never forget the Odyssey, ..

    spent a year or so playing keyboard & keyboard bass for Wayne Branham (owner),...

    we just played good music.. folks came & partied,,,
    Friday & Saturday Nights,, always a packed house...
    Club was open Monday / Sunday...

    Was it rough??,,, sometimes,,, Was it great?? ,,, all the time..

    And, of course, we enjoyed our share of the Palace food..
    it was indeed great eating.....

    Ted B.

    ted bacon

    14 May 12 at 9:59 pm

  22. old age brings on vague memories....
    year was 1974 not 1972...

    ted b.

    16 May 12 at 9:48 am

  23. I worked at WIS-TV next door to the Palace from 1979-1996 and spent thousands of dollars eating and drinking there. Odell and Nancy were the salts of the earth. I ate there so many times that Odell knew what I was going to order before I actually did. For years the cook was Lonnie Proveaux, who Odell always ribbed for any reason. Ray, Odell and Nancy's son took over after Lonnie passed away. Many times after work, we would go next door and shoot pool in the Rib Room Lounge. Odell would tell his good customers when he had salmon or catfish stew that was the best I have ever eaten. Toby Jenkins, who was my mentor at WIS hosted my bachelor party at Odell's. I was sent a napkin holder and menu from the Palace when the building was sold from my good friend Hugh Jacobs, also from WIS. I really missed that place.

    J.D.Copeland

    9 Mar 13 at 9:33 pm

  24. I came to work for Digital System's/Computer records 3 months after they moved from the location next door to the palace to Forest drive. We always had a group to head down there almost every Thursday for the "Greasy Fried Chicken and Onion Slaw". It was the best fried chicken in town. I hated cole-slaw, but I loved theirs.

    Odie had nick-names for some of our troops who were there when DSI was next door; Budda, "Diesle" (because he smoked a pipe), and Biggun all dear friends of mine.

    We continued to go there most Thursdays even after we moved to the Carolina Research park at Farrow and Parklane.

    I went for their last Thursday fried chicken day and attended their last day on Friday. That one had a HUGE crowd and I believe Nancy was channeling Odie on that day.

    MrBO

    13 Jul 13 at 10:30 am

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