Archive for the ‘greek’ tag
This small building in Capitol Shopping Center at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Meeting Street in West Columbia has been a number of things over the years.
Judging from the look of the place, it started as some sort of fast food chain outlet, but I am unable to recall which. Sometime after that, I believe I recall a Greek restaurant setting up there. Most recently it was Dish & Desing Catering until sadly the owner passed away and they had to close.
These pictures were taken not too long after Halloween, as you might infer from the deflated Jack O'Lantern somebody left in the parking lot.
It wouldn't be September without the Greek Festival, and this weekend was one more chance to load up on baklava and Greek arts and crafts. The fest has really grown over the years, and this year saw bright sunshine and warm temps for a nice outing before the State Fair finally brings in the nippy weather next month.
I'm not exactly sure what a Greek store would sell. Items branded with the logos of popular fraternities and sororities, I guess. Or it could be actual products from Greece, but I think I would have noticed that.
Anyway, the adjacent Petal Botique at 743 Saluda Avenue will be expanding into this space.
As you can see from these pictures, the restaurant was a long narrow space. I think it might have benefited from more window tables, but the one time I ate there, I found it pleasant enough. As I recall, I had the stuffed shells with garlic bread, and it was perfectly fine. At that time, the restaurant had a cloth sign for "Zeus" hung over the "Tony's" lettering, as you can see in commenter Andrew's photos at the Tony's link above. I presume that if they had made it over the initial hump, they would have eventually gotten permanent letters over the marquee.
I'm not exactly sure when they closed -- The April issue of Skirt magazine is still in the inside rack, but that may be bi-monthly. I'm going to say it was probably at the end of May giving them about an 8 or 9 month run.
(Hat tip to commenter badger)
UPDATE 1 August 2012: Zeus is open again. See the comments for details, but here is the website.
UPDATE 4 October 2012: As mentioned in the comments, Zeus is unfortunately closed again:
UPDATE 8 October 2014 -- Monterrey will be moving here from across Knox Abbott when their current building (bought by USC) is torn down:
Well, another of the old-style "southwestern" Taco Bell locations has bitten the dust. This one is on Decker Boulevard sort of across from Dent Middle School and next to the old Popeye's / Aloha / Best China/ etc location. While I like the look of this older Taco Bell, the lot and building did have the disadvantage that the drive-through was done through the passenger side window, which is not optimal.
I also like that the manager (or whoever was assigned to do it) was apparently a gardener, taking care to put the "what variety is this" stakes out by the flower plantings.
With the closing of this building, the Taco Bell franchaise moves down towards Two Notch several blocks, setting up shop in a new building at the corner of Decker and Trenholm Road extension on the lot formerly housing Grandy's (whose forlorn building was finally torn down to make way for the new one).
I snapped the two pictures above on 11 July when I went to take a look. At the time, I took the note at face value and concluded that nothing was going on. In retrospect though, as is often the case, the note was rather optimistic.
By the time I got back to take the rest of these pictures on 4 Sept 2010, the place was long gone. You can see that even the lamps flanking the door were taken down.
Well, here's another one I managed to miss for a good while. I did a closing for Zorba's on Decker Boulevard a while back, but this one took me by surprise.
To be honest, I only ate at this Zorba's (which was not under the same ownership as the Decker Zorba's) once, last Fall. A cousin who knew I enjoyed eating at the Decker restaurant was coming to town with her kids to do some shopping, and suggested we have dinner at the Decker place. By that time, it was only open for lunch, and I knew she was going to be hitting Circuit City, so I suggested the Two Notch Zorba's.
Going in, I got the vibe of a place in trouble. Not really anything I could put my finger on at first, but on the way over, I had been getting in the mood for some Spanakopita, and when we got our menus, I saw that there wasn't a single Greek dish listed. For a Greek/Italian restaurant, the total absence of the Greek half seemed like it was probably a recent development, and not a good one. To be clear, the food I ended up ordering was perfectly acceptable -- the choices were just not what one would expect from a restaurant called Zorba's.
When I was out getting a video card at Office Depot a while back, I saw that the place had closed. Judging from the holiday snowflakes still hung in the windows, I'm guessing they probably didn't reopen after Christmas. The window note suggests that at one time the owners were considering options for the building, but the realty sign out front implies that nothing materialized. I'm not sure there is now anwhere closer to Forest Acres than Grecian Gardens out on Sunset for spanakopita..
UPDATE 7 Oct 2010 -- Work is advancing to reopen this building as a Buffalo WIld Wings:
UPDATE 23 Dec 2010 -- The Buffalo Wild Wings is now open:
Plato's Grecian Cafe was tucked into a strip mall across the street from Dutch Square; today it's a Personnel company. I went there several times over the years, but it never really clicked for me. I always thought of it mainly as a pizza place, and though the pizza was fine, it was not in the running for Best Pizza in Columbia.
The last time I was there, they had some sort of live music. I can't recall if it were a pop band or some kind of Greek folk thing, but anyway that seemed to be where their focus was that night, and I found the table service really suffered for it. Since my inclination to stop was never strong, I never got around to going back after that, and didn't notice for a while that the place was gone.
UPDATE 2 March 2011: Add full street address and ad from the Feb 1990 Bellsouth Yellow Pages
Well, it's not like I didn't see it coming.
The first establishment I can remember in this building on Decker was The Captain's Kitchen, a seafood operation. I can't tell you a lot about it because I have never liked seafood, and don't have any specific memories of going there. I think I did go there several times -- I seem to recall my parents speaking of it with approval -- but if I did, I would have gotten a burger or sandwich off the kids' menu.
I'm not entirely sure when The Captain's Kitchen closed, but I suspect it was in the late 60s or early 70s. At any rate, after that, a Zorba's opened in the building. It's hard to explain today how limited cuisine choices were in a medium-sized Southern city in those days. Pizza was considered an exotic food, Mexican restaurants were unknown, Chinese places were rare, and I suspect still tended towards "chop suey" and Greek food was completely unknown outside of Greek families. Today, everyone loves "Greek Salad", back then we didn't even know what it was and Feta cheese was very suspect (it wasn't even yellow!). Which is to say we didn't eat at Zorba's much, and when we did, I got a cheeseburger.
My memory is hazy on the details here, but at some point in, I believe, the 80s, the manager of Zorba's on Decker bought out the Zorba's people and rechristened the restaurant as Sparta. The only real difference was new signage, new menus and opening the restaurant on Sundays. Greek food was a bit less exotic by that point, and we ate there more frequently, and I started to discover the joys of feta in spanikopita and Greek Salads.
I don't know what happened next, but suddenly, Sparta was gone, and the place was Zorba's again (and closed on Sundays again). At this point, I had moved out of town, but had become quite fond of the food, and would often eat Saturday lunch there when I was back in Columbia. Things seemed to move along basically unchanged into the 90s and early 2000s.
At some point in that timeframe, Zorba's became the default place for my father, sister & I to have Saturday lunch (I was generally in town on Saturdays). My father had not been wild about Greek food at first, but gradually came to really like the place, and the staff was always very solicitious of him, especially as it became harder for him to get around.
About this time, the "flight from Decker" started as the Decker Corridor went into decline. Again, I got bits and pieces of this in conversation and may have parts wrong, but I also think that the owner had some health issues and needed to cut back his responsibilities some. He ended up selling the restaurant to an Asian couple and staying on as manager. To combat the decrease in business, he & they decided to refurbish the deck area and try to make Zorba's an afternoon cocktail destination. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and business continued to decline.
By 2003, I was back in Columbia, and eating lunch at Zorba's three times a week (Monday, Wednesday & Friday). I liked to come in about 3pm, have the "stuffed shells" or "cheese manicoti" special, and drink tea and read a book for the rest of my lunch hour after finishing eating. The waitresses knew me, and always kept my glass well filled.
After that, the The Signs Your Favorite Restaurant Is About to Close set in.
First was "sign #1: the hours change". Suddenly Zorba's was no longer open for dinner, just from 11:00am to 3:00pm for lunch. Not only was this a bad sign, but it meant that to eat there, I had to go at 2:00pm, earlier than I generally like to eat lunch (yes, I'm a night owl), so I started going on Monday's only.
Then there was "sign #3: the staffing level drops". Where there had been several waitresses before, now there was only one, and she was new.
After that, there was "sign #5: staff cleaning the restrooms rather than a sanitation service" and "sign #6: the menu changes" -- the formerly full menu + specials was reduced to a skimpy lunch menu + specials.
Finally, when I went in on Monday 26 May 2008, we had "sign #2: they are out of something mundane". In this case, it was lettuce, so instead of the greek salad with the manicotti, I had to choose rice or potatoes instead.
I'm putting 2 June 2008 in the title for this post, but I can't actually say that's the first day they weren't open as I was on vacation the week after 26 May. It's a deduction based on them not getting full deliveries for the week of 26 May and being definitely closed when I went by on 9 June. Combined with that, a new month with all its bills is a logical time to close up shop and the telephone is already disconnected. Actually it's a bit interesting. If it weren't for the phone being disconnected, I wouldn't be absolutely sure. There is no signage at all indicating that they are closed. Usually there is a "Thanks to all our wonderful customers for a great XX years" taped to the door, but not here.
Inside, you can still see the Cheese Manicotti special on the white-board. Oh well -- Thanks guys! I enjoyed it!
UPDATE 2 April 2009: Added Captain's Kitchen Yellow Pages ad from 1970
UPDATE 9 April 2009:
Well, for a while the sign said that an Italian restaurant was coming (Giovanni's, I think), but that never happened, and now it appears the place will be a Mexican restaurant for Mexicans (at least that is my interpretation since the sign says "Patrones Restaurante Mexicano Y Barra" rather than "Patrones Mexican Restaurant & Bar".
I don't know what's up with the For Sale sign, unless the area between the old Redwing and the restaurant is a seperate parcel.
I have to say I don't like the lettering here at all:
UPDATE 14 June 2009: Added the 1977 Southern Bell Yellow Pages ad above
UPDATE 8 June 2012 -- The new operation in this building, Continintal Bar & Grill (a very un-Mexican sounding name to me, though perhaps not to a Mexican) seems to be open. Except that I have yet to ever see a single car there.
UPDATE 27 September 2014 -- Well, as reported, the place has been razed: