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Luce Cucina Italiana, 6164 Saint Andrews Road: 11 April 2013   14 comments

Posted at 1:07 am in restaurants

Written by ted on April 15th, 2013

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Stingers / Marinoni's, 7001 Saint Andrews Road:   4 comments

Posted at 1:19 am in restaurants

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I first knew this place as Al Amir.

After that closed, a bar called Stingers set up shop, and I totally missed the fact that it had closed until *its* follow-on operation, Marinoni's had also closed.

Actually it may not be strictly accurate to say that Stingers closed. According to this Free Times story, the same owner ran both restaurants, so it's more accurate to say that Stingers transitioned into Marinoni's. Unfortunately, I never got to either, and I have to say the pizza described in The Free Times sounds really good.

IrmoJeff had a bit more to say about Stingers here.

(Hat tips to commenters IrmoJeff & Jonathan)

Written by ted on November 28th, 2012

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Zeus Pizza, 224 Knox Abbott Drive: May 2012 (Closed again)   7 comments

Posted at 1:04 am in restaurants

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Zeus Pizza was the follow-on operation to Tony's Pizza in Parkland Plaza, using in fact a good bit of the same signage and interior setup.

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:

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Written by ted on June 16th, 2012

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Cerino's Bistro, 1928 Barnwell Street: early 2000s   no comments

Posted at 1:20 am in restaurants

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Cerino's was one of those places that opened and closed while I was living out of town. It was also located in such an odd place (a historic house well away form any other restaurants or retail) that I would always forget about it. I remember that I would be in town for the weekend, be driving around, see the place and think Oh yeah, I completely forgot about that -- I'll have to try it some time, and then promptly forgot it again.

I'm not sure when the place closed, I know it's listed in the Feburary 1997 phonebook, but not in the February 2008 one. Currently the building is a law office.

(Hat tips to commenters Robert Sproul & badger)

Written by ted on June 7th, 2012

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Pasta Fresca, 3405 Forest Drive: 5 May 2012 (moved)   10 comments

Posted at 12:14 am in restaurants

Written by ted on May 16th, 2012

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Austin's / Bove Restaurant & Bar / Pastaria 811, 11359 Ocean Highway / The Exchange: 2011 / 2012 (closed,moved)   5 comments

Posted at 12:56 am in grand-strand,restaurants

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I never went to Bove as my impression of it was always that it was too tony a spot for me to be a regular. It was the type of place that had named chefs and a deep wine selection.

Some time last year, it occurred to me that I never saw any cars there, and I stopped to take a look. There was no indication whatsoever that the place was closed, in fact there was what seemed to be a unique-for-the-day menu posted on the door and all the fixtures were in place. However, that menu never changed, and now that I was paying attention, there were no cars ever.

Bove was on US-17 in Pawleys Island, just north of the Sonic and south of the new Fresh Market. A few miles north on 17 in Litchfield Beach is an office complex and small mall called The Exchange.

My memory is that The Exchange was built in the late 1970s or early 1980s as a very upscale place. I particularly remember that on the north side of the gallery, just above where the tourism office now is (if indeed *that* is still there..) there was a specialty cheese shop, with all sorts of exotic cheeses that you could not (then) find in a typical grocery. There were also jewelers and upscale clothing botiques as well as some art galleries. Well -- it was simply a place that the Grand Strand was not ready for. First, I doubt they truly realized how seasonal the market was -- just because things looked good in June and July didn't mean that you would see customer-one in October, and second, that's not the kind of crowd that came to the beach in those days. Certainly now there are a bunch of well off retirees, but people toting a load of kids to the beach and Pavilion weren't going to have the time or inclination to peruse fancy cheeses -- essentially what happened is that every original tenant went bust over a very short period of time.

The second incarnation of the place was as an art mall. There were several galleries, one of which was very good and stayed many years and others which came and went. There were also spaces for painting classes and exibits and a couple of artist studios.

During this phase one of the long term tenants, The Coffee & Chocolate House opened. I never could understand how they subsisted on the meager foot traffic, but finally decided that mostly the place was a work area for their catering which seemed to carry them (and as far as I know they are still there).

The other long term non-art tenant was Pastaria 811. They were in a back slot which had originally (during the inital incarnation of The Exchange) been some sort of deli, and were a very good Italian restaurant. In fact, I would say they have the best bread on the Grand Strand, and one of the best pizzas in South Carolina (curiously, the other best pizza in SC is now less than a mile removed). In addition, the salads and pasta dishes like "stuffed shells" were quite good as well.

I should probably have tried to cut down the number of pictures of the place that are below after the break, but I'm a little sentimental about it as I ate there with both my mother and father.

As the years passed I ate there less frequently because my hours gradually shifted to the point I would go out to lunch at 3:00, and the Pastaria is one of those places that closes between lunch (ends at 2:30) and dinner (starts at 4:00), but still I would catch pizza there every now and then.

A year or two ago they did a major expansion, opening a new dining room area in what had been part of the Chocolate & Coffee House space (in the meantime, the good art gallery had moved in with the Coffee house), so I was very surprised, after they went to that expense, to hear that they were moving. I can only figure that 1) The Exchange was continuing to implode and they feared for its future stability and 2) The opportunity to get a building directly on US-17 that was already outfitted as a restaurant was too good a deal to pass up.

At any rate, they started moving into the old Bove space in January, and are now up and running. I went by recently, and the bread, stuffed shells and pizza are just as good from the new kitchen as the old.

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Written by ted on May 3rd, 2012

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Antonio's Restaurant / LB Dynasty / Studio 54 / Club Gemeni, 6212 Two Notch Road: 1970s, late 2000s   10 comments

Posted at 1:09 am in historic,nightclub,restaurants

I don't actually remember this place as an Italian restaurant, but apparently in 1974 it was one. Pizza was still a pretty exotic food to me then, but was one I liked, and I would have expected to remember a pizza restaurant in the Dentsville area. I certainly knew about the Pizza Hut on Two Notch more or less where the O'Reily's Auto Parts near Best Buy now is, and about Shakey's on Parklane Road. A 32-inch pizza sounds rather overwhelming, but the sandwiches sound quite good.

After Antonio's, it was a number of night-clubs and strip-clubs. By 1997, it was operating as L B Dynasty and got in trouble with the Department of Revenue leading to a 45 day suspension of the club mini-bottle license. Whether because of that, or for some other reason, it later became Studio 54, and was that until quite recently, I think (at any rate, the sign is still there). Despite that, it has been at least one other club, Club Gemeni before it's current incarnation as Club Ego

UPDATE 4 September 2011: After being several other things, it's now Laguna Sports Bar

Written by ted on July 30th, 2010

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The Whale's Tail / Rubino's Italian Restaurant, 11210 Broad River Road (I-26 exit 97): 1980s   21 comments

Posted at 11:11 pm in historic,restaurants

We never ate at The Whale's Tail growing up. I wasn't a big seafood fan (which is to say I refused to eat the stuff), and my parents didn't push the issue too often (in fact we used to go to Oliver's Lodge before 5pm because I could get spaghetti before 5 but not after. (Which really sounds odd to me at this remove, but I'm pretty sure thats right..).

Anyway, while I never went there, I used to see the billboards from time to time, and I decided to go looking for it today. The old phonebooks (the above ad is from the 1977 one) never give a real street address for it (it was pretty far out in the boonies back in the day) but I took exit 97 both ways and didn't see anything that looked probable. There's certainly a lot of new construction in the area, and I suspect the building must have been torn down long ago. Can anyone confirm or refute that? The only possible place I saw was Little Pigs barbecue which looked to be the right vintage, but I always imagined The Whale's Tail as a bigger building.

UPDATE 27 May 2010: Added shots of Little Pigs which turns out to be the old Whale's Tail building.

UPDATE 15 February 2012: The Italian restaurant was Rubino's Italian Restaurant and I have added it to the post title along with the full Broad River Road street address.

Written by ted on May 16th, 2010

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Stellini's Pasta Gusto, 224 O'Neil Court: 2000s   3 comments

Posted at 11:58 pm in historic,restaurants

Stellini's was on the corner nearest to Columbia Mall at The Shops at O'Neil Court. I believe it was perhaps the longest lasting restaurant in that little hard-luck plaza, though as I recall the sports bar run by the Very's folks lasted a number of years as well.

This ad from the 1998 Bellsouth yellow pages claims the largest selection of pasta in Columbia. I actually can't remember much about that. If I am remembering correctly, the times we went there, what most impressed me was the garlic bread, which was strong and gooey, not that "hint of garlic on overbaked toast" thing some places do. I do think they had a number of pesto dishes which weren't too common at the time, but while I might try one now, at that point I was still fully in tomato-based mode.

I don't think business was ever great in this location despite theoretical drive-by traffic between Columbia Mall and Two Notch, and I wasn't too surprised when the place closed. I believe at least two other restaurants tried the spot (there was definitely one) but nothing ever lasted long-term, and currently the space is empty and available.

Written by ted on March 30th, 2010

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The Olive Garden, 2547 Decker Boulevard: April 2005   11 comments

Posted at 8:18 pm in historic,restaurants

Yep, it's another Decker posting!

The Olive Garden can't get no respect, and I'm not entirely sure why. Yes, compared to your favorite little hole-in-the-wall that you discovered in Little Italy, it's not that great. Compared to the chains? I'm not sure exactly where it rates with Macaroni Grill (MG's bread is definitely better), and it's definitely not as good as Carabbas. BUT: it's not bad. Certainly not as bad as all the insults comics have thrown its way for years. I'd go so far as to say that the "Soup, salad & breadstick" lunch is very nice, and the Capelini Pomodoro is quite good.

This location is another place where my father, sister and I used to eat Sunday lunch from time to time. I can understand why the chain would want to put a new location out on Two Notch near Sandhills -- there's a lot of growth there, and a lot of people to feed. What I don't understand is why opening that new store required closing this one. It seemed to do a good business, and the people in the Forest Acres area haven't gone anywhere. We still eat! In fact, I would probably eat lunch there at least once a week whereas the new location is just too far to go for lunch hour.

UPDATE 19 Feb 2010: Added full street address to post title.

UPDATE 15 Feb 2011: Updated closing date in post title to April 2005 based on commenter Andrew's research.

Written by ted on April 19th, 2008

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