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

Posted at 1:20 am in Uncategorized

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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)   14 comments

Posted at 12:14 am in Uncategorized

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)   6 comments

Posted at 12:56 am in Uncategorized

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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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Antonio's Restaurant / LB Dynasty / Studio 54 / Club Gemeni, 6212 Two Notch Road: 1970s, late 2000s   11 comments

Posted at 1:09 am in Uncategorized

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   33 comments

Posted at 11:11 pm in Uncategorized

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 closing

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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Capital Health Club / Jesudi's Italian Restaurant / Lulan Wang / El Korita / Los Portrillos, 4405 Fort Jackson Boulevard: 2008 etc   22 comments

Posted at 1:20 am in closing

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First of all, can someone give me a definitive name for the road that starts at Fort Jackson, goes under I-77, passes in front of K-Mart and ends where Devine Street meets Garners Ferry? I've called it "Jackson Boulevard" all my life, but the I-77 exit signs read "Fort Jackson Boulevard", and half of the street signs on the road itself have "Fort" and half don't. Likewise, when I googled the address of this storefront, I find both uses.

Anyway, I became aware of this building when I would drive down (Fort) Jackson Boulevard and cut through to Ruby Tuesday's. As far as I could tell, it was a mexican restaurant which seemed to have passed through a protracted coming soon stage directly to an out of business stage without ever actually opening. Google on the address gives an even more interesting story. Apparently at some point in the not too distant past, it was a Chinese place called Lulan Wang. I'm not surprised I don't remember that as I'm not overly fond of Chinese food so those places don't really attract my attention. On the Mexican front however, it was apparently two different places, and must have been both quite recently: El Korita and Los Portrillos, so I'm apparently conflating and re-arranging two coming-soon and out-of-business progressions in my mind.

I like that the main available sign leaves the palm tree -- that's nicer than just a blank white sign. Also, notice the plaintive writing on the fences to the side of the restaurant urging No Steal Plant. Is that a big problem in Columbia? The fact that they felt the need to write it argues it happened at least once..

UPDATE 28 Jan 09: Several people in the comments mention that the place was also (and first) Jesudi's, an Italian restaurant that was decorated as a cave inside and out. I had completely forgotten that! I knew I had eaten in a "cave" restaurant somewhere in Columbia growing up, but did not connect it with that building at all. I've updated the post title to add Jesudi's to the list of tenants.

UPDATE 31 March 2011 -- Added full street address to post title. Added 1973 Southern Bell ad for Capital Health Club an establishment with a rather different menu than the rest.

UPDATE 22 July 2011 -- The place is now being worked on as an "Upfit for proposed new restaurant":

UPDATE 25 October 2011 -- Well, it's to be The Diner:

UPDATE 15 January 2012 -- The Diner is open:

UPDATE 25 January 2012 -- Here's the mural on the side. Looks as though they are still working on it:

UPDATE 28 January 2012 -- Yep! Definitely still working on it:

UPDATE 28 October 2021 -- I have added the first picture, a shot of Jesudi's in full Italian Cave mode. Commenter Bill alerted to me of this shot at the Library of Congress of all places. The accompanying text says that it was taken by photographer John Margolies in 1988, and is part of his John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive collection, with no restrictions on use.

While I am here, I am also updating tags and adding the map icon.

Also note that several more businesses have come and gone in the building since I first made this post, and that the building was badly hit by the flood of 2015. You can click here for more details.

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

Posted at 8:18 pm in Uncategorized

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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Rosa Linda's Cafe Murrells Inlet: Late 90s   29 comments

Posted at 4:57 pm in Uncategorized

Rosa Linda's was one of the first out-of-town places I became a "regular". Once I had a job, and car, my comings and goings from the beach came to depend more on my whims than elaborate family vacation plans, and when I was on the coast alone, I could always choose a place I liked. At the time (and still to a large extent), what I liked was Mexican and pizza.

Rosa Linda's billed itself as a Mexican/Italian restaurant, a combination which seems natural to me, but which I have seldom seen elsewhere. Of course, it wasn't authentic Mexican food, and the menu would cheerfully admit as much, but it was Mexican food prepared in a way which seemed very natural to me as a South Carolinian, and I quickly became addicted to the chips & salsa, which were almost my first experiences with "hot" food. I realize now that the salsa which seemed so amazing at the time was in fact Pace Medium, but it was certainly better than what was (and is) served at Mexican run Mexican restaurants, and the chips were made on-site, and were excellent. The pizza was prepared in a brick oven, and was the best single item on the menu. The crust was thin, but not anexoric, and firm but not brittle. It was also great for dipping in any of the salsa you might have had left over.

The wait staff was uniformly friendly, and they became so used to seeing me there, that they gave me their "locals" discount card (despite the fact that I was living in Fayetteville and then Aiken at the time) and membership pin. Supposedly, if you wore the pin, you would get seated first if there were a line. That didn't seem quite fair to me, so I never wore it, but I didn't hesitate to take advantage of the discount card which got you 10% off everything except bar drinks for the whole party. Being in the program also meant you got a postcard every year on your birthday with some sort of free food offer. I'm not sure I still have the pin or card. I know they were in my '85 Camry when it was totaled, and I'm not sure I've seen them since.

I was very upset when I came down to the beach one spring and found Rosa Linda's closed. I'm not sure I got the complete story from a lady in another local establishment but it seemed to boil down to family issues, and maybe moving somewhere outside the country to retire rather than to a failure of the business.

There were originally two other Rosa Linda's locations, each run independantly, but with the same menu. Once was in Myrtle Beach near the old Myrtle Square and the other was in North Myrtle Beach almost across from Barefoot Landing. The Myrtle Beach location was subpar. I ate there a few times, but it was never as good as the other two, and it closed before the Murrells Inlet location. The North Myrtle Beach location was as good as the Murrells Inlet (but too far a drive to become a "hangout" for me), and soldiered on until they lost their lease and were unable to find another location. A new Olive Garden restaurant was opened on that lot.

After the Murrells Inlet location closed down, no other operation was able to make a go of the location. The first to try was some sort of chain Mexican place whose name I cannot now recall. That lasted about a year and was followed by a Mexican run Mexican restaurant, which didn't last much longer. That was followed by The Royal Oak a faux English tavern operation which had a formidable number of different beers on tap, as well as burgers and pizza. I tried the pizza, and found it inferior to Rosa Linda's by a good bit. The pub folded last year, and the building is now vacant again. Oh well.

UPDATE 7 July 2009: Added scan of Rosa Linda's loyalty card above.

The Royal Oak was replaced by Spencerz's Sports Pub, which is now "closed for remodeling".

UPDATE 7 October 2009: Added the first picture, which shows Rosa Linda's with some wind damage after Hurricane Hugo in the fall of 1989

UPDATE 26 October 2009: Added the picture of the building's current tenant, Spencer'z Sports Pub (the pizza is 'ok', not nearly as good as Rosa Linda's).

UPDATE 22 Jan 2010: Well, looks like the Rosa Linda's folks are going to have a reunion (see the comments). Maybe they can rent their old building -- because Spencer'z South went under this week..

UPDATE 3 June 2010 -- Well, after 30+ years of being a restaurant, it appears the building will now be a golf shop:

UPDATE 12 April 2011 -- Good news! A new Rosa Linda's will be opening in the old Hoof 'n' Finz:

UPDATE 14 May 2011 -- The new Rosa Linda's is open!

I went by the other night, and am very pleased! They don't have a pizza oven because of structural limitations in the building, but the enchiladas taste exactly as I remember, as do the chips and Mexicana Mud.

Written by ted on January 14th, 2008

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