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Archive for the ‘ice cream’ tag

Campus Club South / The Quarter Moon / Swensen's / TW Muldoon's, 900 Main Street: 1980s   27 comments

Posted at 12:33 am in Uncategorized

Swensen's was a fairly popular restaurant chain in the 1980s. I'm not sure I ever went to the Columbia location (now The Hunter Gatherer) at the corner of Main & College Streets, but almost anywhere we went on a trip, there would be a Swensen's. I know for sure there was one on The Market in Charleston (now an Applebee's, I think) , and we ran into them on class trips to DC and Florida as well. The ad above from the 1985 Southern Bell phonebook has the logo I recall.

Swensen's started in San Francisco as an ice cream stand, but by the time it franchaised and locations hit the Southeast, they were casual dining restaurants (with ice cream, of course) and I think I had burgers there more often than anything frosty. Their fries were a bit unusual in that rather than being longer than they were wide, they were sort of square and waffle-hatched.

According to Wikipedia during the 1990s, the chain shrunk from 400 stores to about 200, and when it started to expand again, it was mostly overseas. I think the Columbia store closed during that wave of shrinkage. The current tenant in the building, The Hunter Gatherer brewpub has left the interior in a rather rough (if interesting) form. I suspect it was somewhat less distinctive as a Swensen's but I could be wrong. I would be interested if anyone can recall whether Swensen's had the main-floor and catwalk layout used by THG.

UPDATE 16 April 2010: Added Campus Club South and TW Muldoons to the post title and identified what year the ad is from. Added The Quarter Moon to title.

Written by ted on April 16th, 2010

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Dairi-O, 530 North Main Street (Bishopville): 2008   3 comments

Posted at 10:59 pm in Uncategorized

This old-style walk-up soft-serve parlor was in Bishopville, on the north side of town near the high school stadium. I would pass by it several times a year on the way to family events, and always meant to stop some time or other, but the way it always worked out is that I was not alone, running late, or both.

I first noticed that it seemed to be closed on my way to Thanksgiving 2008, and finally got around to taking some pictures in March of 2009. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had no qualms about heading out on I-20 with a camera and some good music. According to their sign, the place had been there more than 50 years, which I have to say is a pretyt good run.

Going by this last month for Thanksgiving, I saw that now all the signage is down, and the building is just sitting there empty with no indication of what it was.

UPDATE: Looks like there's a Facebook Group..

UPDATE 23 December 2011 -- Well, as these 24 November 2011 (Thanksgiving) pix show, the building is gone now.

UPDATE 24 December 2011 -- Oops! Building is still there, but boarded up. The pix were of a lot with a gas station destroyed by Hugo, so I've taken them out. I'll try to get the real thing next time I'm over there. (Didn't have my camera ready today..)

Written by ted on December 10th, 2009

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Ben & Jerry's, 2901-B Devine Street: mid 2000s   13 comments

Posted at 7:42 pm in Uncategorized

For some reason, as we saw here, and here and here, Columbia isn't real friendly for creameries whose name isn't Baskin Robbins. I don't know why this is, but I would say that this Ben & Jerry's location on Devine Stret lasted fewer than five years.

I find there's a certain Zen purity to ice creams like Bryer's Coffee (ingredients: Cream, Coffee, Sugar) and that going much more "upscale" than that yields diminishing returns. I certainly like Ben & Jerry's ice cream -- it just doesn't seem to have the magic qualities for me that some ascribe to it. It was nice having an ice cream store in the area for its own sake though. I'm probably missing something, but with the passing of this store, I can't think of any in the Devine corridor or Five Points. I know there's a Sandy's near the college, and a Coldstone or Marble Slab in the Vista, but that's really another market area.

UPDATE 20 January 2012 -- Looks like Ben & Jerry's was the middle store (2901-B) in this three storefront building, not the end store (2901-C). Here's a better picture of their actual location (which became Hardcore Tennis:

(Also added the full street addres to the post title).

Written by ted on December 31st, 2008

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Edisto Farms Dairy, Trenholm Plaza, etc: 1960s   55 comments

Posted at 4:45 pm in Uncategorized

Like Martin's Coffee House, Edisto Dairies first turned up in a comment thread, and seemed to have a number of people who fondly remember it, so I'm copying those comments here, and making a full-on Edisto post...

Grocery shopping has changed a lot in just my lifetime (I'm closing fast on 48..), but in the lifetime of someone like my father, it changed immensely. First of all, when he was growing up in the 1920s in Fernandina Beach Florida, how you went to the store was different. You probably walked most of the time. Sometimes you might take a horse cart. For one particular store, my grandfather would put a handcart on the local rails and you would see-saw there. You certainly didn't drive a car. When you got there, you would probably give your list to the grocer whose help would fetch your items to you. You certainly wouldn't go back into the stock yourself and pick things out. You might not even pay cash for anything, as the grocer would have an account for your family which you would periodically settle. And just to continue this digression in a seasonal mode -- if it were near Thanksgiving, you would go to the butcher, pick out a turkey, tie a string around its neck and walk it back to your house.

All that was if you actually went to the store. For a lot of things, you didn't have to. The ice-man would drive his cart to your house and replenish your ice-box, and the milk-man would come by in his wagon and leave full bottles on your doorstep and pick up your empties to clean and re-use.

Well, by and by the iceman cometh-ed not, but the milkman was a steady presence for over half of the 20th century, featuring in innumerable risque jokes and arriving at dawn or before day-in, day-out and year round. In Columbia, or at least my part of Richland County, the milkman was Edisto Dairies.

I've forgotten the milkman's name, though I knew it well at the time, but the Edisto truck would come off of Trenholm road and make its way onto my street and I knew that if I got up early enough, and ran down to the corner, the milkman would let me steer the truck from the corner to our house. The truck was something like a UPS truck, with the "doors" always open on both sides. The floor was corrugated metal with a very spartan seat for the driver. My mother would make sure I had on shoes before sending me off, as there were apt to be glass fragments on the floor of the truck. I would hop in from the "passenger's" side and take the wheel and the milkman would ease the truck into gear and off we would go.

Edisto's milk came in standard bottles. I think some dairies had long-neck ones, but Edisto's were short neck, and were sealed with flat, waxed paper caps. I'm unsure now what actually held the caps to the bottles -- perhaps they were put on while the milk was warm with pasturization and vacuum-sealed as it cooled. The caps were actually in some demand for school projects. I remember in particular at Satchel-Ford Elementary we had a "counting man" which was a flat wooden figure of a man who had no fingers. and we would somehow attach milk-bottle caps to his hands for various counting exercises.

I don't know much about Edisto the company. From the name, I assume it was a collection of farms along the Edisto river, but I could certainly be wrong. As a commenter notes, they advertised that their milk was "Golden Guernsey" milk, and aside from their milk-routes and, according to commenter Lew, a milk plant on Superior Drive, they also had several ice-cream stores in town. The one I recall was in Trenholm Plaza in the far corner, next to Trenholm road. The place has, I think, always been some kind of ice-cream store since then, and currently houses Hooligan's, a nice place to take kids for ice-cream and a sandwich. (Though that wing of the plaza is to be torn down soon). They also had several huge advertising displays in town. The one I remember most was on Beltline Boulevard, and was a huge animated stream of pouring milk flowing from a big carton into a big mug. (I suppose the milk stream was some sort of painted revolving spiral..

The government at both state and federal levels has always intervened in the dairy market. I think it was primarily the state governments until the New Deal -- as a child, one of my father's family tasks was to take the coloring agent that came with each purchase of margarine, break the capsule, and spread it on all the sticks of margarine to make them yellow since so as to protect dairy interests it was illegal to sell yellow margarine in Florida. After that, there was a web of regional price support rules, and it was illegal to sell milk more cheaply than the agreed local price. I think that started to change in the 60s and 70s, and the milk market became more national. I don't know if that had an effect on Edisto, but I suspect it may have. At any rate sometime in that timeframe, they were bought out by Coburg dairies.

The rise of supermarkets had already been reshaping the grocery market for decades, and with their ample refrigeration cases and centralized locations, at some point it no longer made sense for dairies to deliver to indivudal homes, or for families to want them to. I may be wrong, but I don't think Edisto/Coburg home delivery lasted much if at all past the turn of the 70s (actually potato chip delivery lasted a lot longer!), and today milk is a complete commodity, like sugar. You buy "whole", "2 percent", "skim", or "nonfat" and never notice whose name is on the top of the carton and if the cows are anything beyond "cow" (ie: Jersey, Guernsey etc), they keep it to themselves. Not to mention that the whole insurance industry would descend like a horde of locusts on any company letting an 8 year old "steer" one of their trucks.

UPDATE 11 October 2011: Added a photo above of an old Edisto sign currently on display at the new Mast General Store on Main Street.

Written by ted on November 21st, 2008

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Coldstone Creamery, 101 Sparkleberry Crossing Suite 5 (Clemson Road at Sparkleberry Lane): 2007(?)   10 comments

Posted at 4:32 pm in Uncategorized

I believe I stopped at this Coldstone twice, having ice cream once, and a milkshake once. Both times, it seemed to me that they were doing a good business. I noticed the other day, however, when I was taking pictures of the nearby former Za's location that they are now closed. I've put down 2007 for the closing date since they aren't listed in the 2008 Bellsouth phonebook, but it could have been 2006 I suppose.

When both Bruster's and Coldstone closed in Forest Acres, my thinking was that Bruster's had a bad location and business model, but I was puzzled by Coldstone, which seemingly had a good spot by Starbucks in a high foot-traffic area of Trenholm Plaza. Seeing the Clemson Road Coldstone closed got me thinking there might be something up with the chain itself, and lo-and-behold, I ran across an interesting Wall Street Journal article to exactly that effect last night. It seems that Coldstone franchisees must pay back to corporate on gross sales, and that they have to use suppliers with very high markups:

Even as they rave about the quality of the ice cream, numerous franchisees say the numbers in Cold Stone's business model didn't add up. The cost of running one of the shops was so steep that making a profit was daunting, especially in an economy where a $4 scoop was a pricey indulgence, they argue. They also contend the company cut their margins even further by offering two-for-one coupons and making them buy costly ingredients from a single supplier. Some argue that the company's rapid expansion crowded stores too close together -- and brought in too many inexperienced franchisees.

To quote from an even more interesting followup comment by a disgruntled Coldstone franchisee:

Another issue is Cold Stone’s agreements to receive kickbacks from the companies that it requires franchisees to use. This is over and above the 9% that they charge franchisees based on gross sales. These agreements drive up food costs for franchisees and forces them out of business. As an example, I recently purchased 24-24oz. Pepsi bottles from Sam’s Club for $14.21. Yet as a franchisee, I was required to buy 20oz. bottles directly from the distributor. I believe I was paying $21.65 for 20-20oz bottles of the very same product. Therefore I was paying more than $7 more for product from the distributor and receiving 96 less ounces. Shouldn’t a franchisor negotiating on behalf of nearly 1,400 franchisees be able to negotiate a better price than I can get walking into my local wholesaler?

There are some very sad stories at the second link. I do get snarky on this blog, but every failed store was someone's dream.

UPDATE 21 April 2010: Added full street address to post title.

UPDATE 28 April 2010 -- It's now a Subway:

Written by ted on June 19th, 2008

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Coldstone Creamery, 4840 Forest Drive, Suite 148 (Trenholm Plaza): May 2008   1 comment

Posted at 6:00 pm in Uncategorized

When I first saw Coldstone closed last week, I wasn't going to make a post on it because it seemed clearly temporary, but I was puzzled when the down-time stretched into this week. What kind of high-tech equipment does an ice-cream store have that can't be fixed by a commercial refrigeration repairman in a few hours?

I hope it is temporary, but this is similar to the way the Bruster's closing started. Coldstone is pretty good too, though they make it very embarassing for both the customer and the staff to tip there.

Update 10 June 08:

Well, it's pretty much as I feared. The "equipment problem" signs were disingenuous as closing signs often are. Based on what I see inside the store now, it's gone.

This is the second upscale creamery that Forest Acres has lost recently. Luckily there's still old reliable Baskin Robbins up the street and Zesto's chocolate dipped soft cones (umm!) across from Richland Mall..

UPDATE 21 April 2010: Added full street address to post title.

Written by ted on May 5th, 2008

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Bruster's Real Ice Cream, 2313 North Beltline Boulevard at Forest: (sort of) Winter 07   11 comments

Posted at 6:39 pm in Uncategorized

This one is not a "real" closing, but I thought it was kind of odd, so I'm going to note it.

I had noticed Bruster's Real Ice Cream in a few locations before ever stopping by, and it seemed to me that there was always a crowd standing around outside for some reason. When I finally did stop by, I found that the reason is that there is no "inside", at least for customers. All the business is done through walk-up windows, even though the buildings are plenty big enough to have counters inside. The ice cream is pretty good, but certainly not noticably better than Baskin Robbins, Ben & Jerry's, Coldstone or Marble Slab, all of which operations have counters and seats inside. I can't really think of why the chain would adopt such a concept, except to "be different". It's a concept I can see working well in resort areas, but it seems ill-suited to year-round markets. If you get a hankering for ice-cream in November, are you going to go somewhere warm, or stand outside Bruster's?

I noticed a month or two ago that the store on Beltline at Forest had been dark a while, and I stopped by to see what was going on. There were signs in the windows saying that they were closed for "renovations & training" and would be open again early in 2008. Well, it is now early in 2008, and they are still closed. Since it is a brand-new building, and I have seen no work trucks at the site, the renovations angle is puzzling, and I have to wonder what kind of training the staff at this store needed that isn't needed at their other locations, especially since it was a going operation. If I were to speculate, I would say that their business model just doesn't work in the winter at non foot traffic sites. But I would never do that.

UPDATE 27 March 08: Looks like the place is for sale, but for sale as a Bruster's franchise, not as just a building:

I wish him(?) luck, but those "loyal customers" the "for sale" sign references have had half a year to find other creameries..

UPDATE 31 March 09:

Well, they backed a truck up to the place and loaded all the equipment and took down the signs. That was in January I think and so far nothing has gone in there.

UPDATE 8 June 2010 -- Well, it's going to be a Hibachi Express "soon", though it seems like the "soon" sign has been up a month or so, and there doesn't look to have been any interior work done..

UPDATE 23 Dec 20-- Hibachi Express is open:

Written by ted on February 13th, 2008

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