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Hi Hatt Drive In aka The Hi Hatt Club, 3830 Forest Drive: 1973   75 comments

Posted at 11:12 pm in closing

UPDATE 7 June 2016 -- Many thanks to commenter Mandy for sending these pictures of the Hi Hatt:




Original post:

Well, there have been a lot of people over the past few years urging me to do this post. I have always put it off up until now as I have no personal memories of The Hi Hatt Club, and though I must have seen it many times up until I was 12, I cannot even recall the building. I was always hoping that I would run across a picture of the club, or would find an old ad that I could use to hang a post on, but that seems destined not to happen, so I will go with what I have been able to establish, and by consolidating various mentions made of the place in the comments.

Here's what I found out by looking through old phone directories last week. The Hi Hatt Club first appears in the Columbia Southern Bell listings in the August 1957 directory. The last time it was listed was in the December 1972 directory. At the start of its run, the phone number was given as SU-7-9143. That number was retained in each directory though with the advent of direct dialing the prefix changed from Sunset to became 787-9143. The name the club used for its directory listing was always Hi Hatt Drive In, and it listed under Clubs in the Yellow Pages though it never bought a Yellow Pages ad.

Given that other sources state that the club started in the 1930s, I'm not sure why listings only started in 1957. I suppose that in those days not every road-house felt it needed a phone, or perhaps the listing was under another name.

Here's what the Town of Forest Acres says on their web site in what seems to be a semi-official history of the town:

The town limits formed an irregular rectangle that paralleled Forest Drive. The original area of incorporation was two square miles with the northern and southern boundaries lying one half mile on each side of the road. The eastern boundary ran north to south a thousand feet to the east of Gill Creek. The western boundary lay two miles to the west paralleling the eastern boundary. The boundaries did not change right away, but over the years the city grew to the east and primarily to the north. Forest Acres was planned to be a residential area. Existing businesses were grandfathered in, but new businesses were not to be opened. Because of loopholes in the laws, this was not enforceable. To the chagrin of the local residents, the old Bethel School at the comer of Forest Drive and Landmark Drive (3830 Forest Drive) had closed, and the Hi Hatt (pronounced High Hat) Club had opened in the building. The Hi Hatt Club, an early form of nightclub, was in the area in 1935. The city founders would have liked to have seen it close, but it managed to stay open. Over the years, especially in the 1960's, the Hi Hatt Club was rumored to be a place of prostitution, or a "whore house," as such operations were called. Mothers shielded their children from it, but the Hi Hatt Club's reputation made it a big source of interest and a hot topic of conversation for teenage boys. Frowns and concern could never close it, but a good financial offer to purchase the land to construct office buildings finally brought it to an end. The city officials, from the beginning on, wanted only wholesome businesses in the area with protection and privacy for the nearby residential properties.

Here's a bit of information on the appearance of the club from commenter FirstDennis:

Does ANYbody remember the Hi Hat Club on Forest Drive, not too far from Beltline? I asked William Price Fox about it, because he is a wealth of info on stuff like this, but he cannot recall it. I swear I’m not making it up, though. It was a white wooden building. Had a neon sign shaped like a top hat.

Commenter BR suggests the place was informally known as Goldie's:

Speaking of Forest Acres places, when Forest Dr was just 2 lanes (yes, how many of us remember that!) there was a honky tonk in the pine thicket about where the gold-glass reflective building is now located. It was called GOLDIES. Anyone else remember that?


Again, maybe the Hi Hat club was owned by ‘Goldie’, so maybe they were the same. At the time, a frequent visitor to the place always called it the latter.

Commenter Michael Taylor passes along this information from his uncle:

Hi-Hat Club update: My 91 year old uncle is the last remaining person of that generation alive for me personally, and I’ve been hitting him up for city history a little at a time so as not to wear him out. The latest nugget should tickle all the “Hi-Hatters” out there. Dig this, before it was a honky tonk the building was a 2-room schoolhouse and my uncle went there for a bit. Unfortunately he is not a photographer and doesn’t even have a photograph of his old garden center. Oy vey!

Something a little less certain that I remember from my father talking about the Hi Hat Club back when it was still a working honky tonk in the 1960s is his insistence that a couple of scenes for the cult Robert Mitchum movie “Thunder Road” were filmed there in 1958 or so. According to this wikipedia entry for the movie, most of the principle filming was done in Asheville, NC, so this at least puts the production crew to within a few hours drive. It’s not uncommon to film several locations for one final composited location. In other words, if you were filming a honky tonk scene, you may film the interior of some place on the outskirts of Asheville and the exterior of some distinctive juke joint in the suburbs of Columbia SC and then edit them to look seamless. It seems excessive, but often one place looks better on the outside and the other place looks better on the inside and because they can, film crews do this stitching all the time and you’d never know it.

Going against my father’s story is that the South Carolina film database doesn’t have “Thunder Road” listed, however it mostly lists the films that have been primarily filmed here. It does list a “Thunder In Carolina” stock car movie (with Rory Calhoun and Alan Hale, Jr., the skipper from “Gilligan’s Island) filmed in Darlington in 1960, which my father could have been confusing with “Thunder Road”. But on the side of a film crew having filmed a few scenes at the Hi-Hat Club for “Thunder Road,” here is an interview with Mitchum’s son James on the 50th anniversary of the film where he mentions that some of the inspiration came from their South Carolina cousins’ moonshining and fast driving. I could see Mitchum coming down the short drive from Asheville for some scenes at the Hi-Hat Club, it was such a wild looking little honky tonk. I suppose one way to solve this would be to rent both movies and watch them with hawk eyes and keep an eye out for that crazy neon sign on top of the club. And speaking of signs, wonder what ever happened to that sign, bet it’s at the bottom of a trash heap somewhere.

I can see that place in my mind’s eye just as clearly as this computer screen, but sadly, 41 years or more later it’s not enough, especially with websites like this. Right this very moment there is a box of photographs with photos of places like the Hi-Hat Club and YOU may know the person who has them.

Comments from anyone who actually visited the club are welcome (and you can be anonymous if it really was an establisment of ill-repute at some point :-)! Pictures would be great too..

UPDATE 14 Dec 2010: I got the Montgomery book for my birthday. You can get it here:

Anyway, there is a section on the Hi-Hatt Club. To answer some questions asked here:

1) Yes, 'Goldie' was the proprietress.

2) The 1968 movie with scenes at the Hi-Hatt Club was not Thunder Road, but The Road Hustlers. (It does not seem to be available on DVD or VHS).

3) The book doesn't definitively settle the question of whether the Club really was a house of ill repute, but states "Due to a renewal of complaints about the Hi-Hatt Club's liquor violations and rumors of prostitution, SLED (State Law Enforcement Division) raided it in 1973.

4) There are no exterior pictures of the club given.

UPDATE 20 March 2012 -- Well, The Road Hustlers has surfaced (subtitled in Norwegian, of course). I have not watched the movie as such, but simply fast forwarding through it leads me to believe there is only one scene set at The Hi Hatt Club, stills of which, and a youtube embed, are below.

The exterior shots at the beginning (Hi Hatt sign) and end (front porch of Hi Hatt) are definitely the club. Unfortunately they are so dark as to be almost invisible. I don't *know* the interior shots for the scene to be the actual Hi Hatt Club, but it seems unlikely that a shoestring drive-in quickie would build a sound set for such a thing. Perhaps some old Hi Hatt patrons can comment..

Paul & Ernie's / Limelight / Shangri-La / Diamonds Strip Club / Comedy House, 14 Berryhill Road: mid-2000s   29 comments

Posted at 10:55 pm in closing

This building off of Saint Andrews Road is now an "Ultra Lounge". I'm not sure what it was built as, but I first recall noticing it in the 1980s, when it was a strip club, the name of which I can't remember. After that, it was for a number of years the original site of The Comedy House, now on Decker Boulevard in the old Winn-Dixie building. I think it may have been something after the strip-club and before The Comedy House and after The Comedy House and before Pure, but I'm not sure.

I saw a number of comedy shows there including one guy who made me laugh so hard it hurt, but whose name (or act) I cannot now recall at all. I'm not sure what happened to The Comedy House as it was non-existent for a long while after closing shop here. Normally if a place is moving just as a normal course of business, they will do it as quickly as possible to keep a revenue stream active, but I think it took over a year in this case.

UPDATE 15 October 2009: Added a bunch of extra names to the post title based on the comments.

UPDATE 29 March 2023: Adding map icon. Also this building has been razed. Click on the address tag for details.

The Diamond Disco / Southern Gentlemans Adult Entertainment, 1995 Old Dunbar Road / Knockers Oasis, Inc., 115 Overland Drive / Tail Spin, 115 Overland Drive, boxing club (?) 115 Overland Drive / Windham Brothers Supper Club / Dixie Disco: 1993, 1999, Jan 2009   33 comments

Posted at 12:25 am in Uncategorized

Welcome to all the folks coming in from The State! Be sure to check out the Alphabetical Closings for a list of other places you might remember.

This defunct I-26 adult entertainment complex apparently occupies two lots in Cayce off of Old Dunbar Road. The front lot is 1995 Old Dunbar Road, and the back lot is off the adjacent side street at 115 Overland Drive.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ted on June 25th, 2009

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Adult Book Store, 1001 Percival Road at Decker: 1980s   5 comments

Posted at 1:20 am in Uncategorized

UPDATE 13 June 2009: The above picture is apparently the wrong spot for the adult book store, with the right spot being the corner lot (one to the left). I'll leave the first picture since people have commented on it (and its former incarnations), and add the correct one below.

I've tried a couple of times to get a decent picture of this place, but it seems that every time I go by, it's the afternoon, and the sun is against me. Anyway, this little building is on Percival Road between Decker Boulevard and Dupont Drive and has been a number of things over the years. Currently it is an El Cheapo gas station / convienience store. You can also tell from the painted-over letters on the gas island canopy that it was fairly recently a Texaco. What I recall from the 1970s and 80s is that it was an adult book store for a good many years, and the reason I recall this is one very indignant lady during the Great Ice Storm of 1979.

That storm was the biggest local event of 1979. We certainly had snow from time to time growing up, but had never seen anything like the cover of ice that descended on Columbia that day. As I recall, I went outside afterwards, and saw a bucket in our back yard. I pried it out of the ice to find that it left a neat hole with clear turf underneath, surrounded by a two-inch coat of ice. Needless to say, trees and branches were down all over the city. Our house was without power for two weeks. Nowdays, I suppose they would declare a Federal Disaster Area for anything like that, but in those days, we just coped. We had a fireplace and candles, and when things got too bad, could take a hot shower at a relative's house. We also had a transistor radio, and I remember listening to WIS's extensive coverage of the situation. The lady in question phoned in to the call-in show and expressed great ire at the fact that this adult book store had its power back, and she did not have hers. The host tried to explain that the line crews were working through the area in triage mode, and usually tried to fix the lines that would bring the most houses back at once before moving on to breaks that would bring fewer houses online. She wasn't having any of it though, and I think the host finally had to "thank" her for her opinion and hang up. Perhaps she was onto something though -- we haven't had a storm like that since the adult bookstore closed!

UPDATE 13 June 2009 See in post above about new "correct" picture. Also added the street address, 1001, to the post title.

Written by ted on May 20th, 2009

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A To Z Video, 2319 Two Notch Road, 1990s   4 comments

Posted at 10:57 pm in Uncategorized

A To Z Video was on Two Notch Road next to Dave's nightclub and almost across the street from the Aaro Rental Center. Although I never went in, I was under the impression at the time that the salient fact in the name was that 'X' was between 'A' & 'Z' -- however, looking at these pictures I notice "videogames" so perhaps I was wrong about that.

At any rate, the place did not last long, and sat empty for quite a while. I figured I ought to go ahead and take these pictures despite it being so drab and rainy as it appears that the building is about to go under construction and I expect to see something new here before too long.

UPDATE 12 September 2011 -- The building has been refurbished somewhat and is now up for lease, though the A To Z signage so far remains:

Written by ted on March 24th, 2009

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Sandy's Escorts / BJ Motors, Inc. / Nationwide Insurance, 5201 Two Notch Road: March 2009 (moved)   8 comments

Posted at 11:40 pm in Uncategorized

I noticed a few months ago that this little building on Two Notch Road, at the bottom of the hill between Pinestraw Road and Pine Belt Road, was now a Nationwide Insurance office. I see this month that they are moving to another location on Two Notch, leaving the building vacant again.

Insurance is usually a pretty staid business (unless you are AIG..), but this location has a somewhat racier past. In particular, back in 1987, you might have found the address listed under Escort Services:

The next iteration was a perfectly normal used car lot, except I always found the name, still on the shed out behind the main building, just a bit ironic:

UPDATE 20 December 2011 -- The Tonya D. Parks Nationwide has now moved into this place, following the other Nationwide office:

Written by ted on March 15th, 2009

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Capital Health Club / Jesudi's Italian Restaurant / Lulan Wang / El Korita / Los Portrillos, 4405 Fort Jackson Boulevard: 2008 etc   23 comments

Posted at 1:20 am in closing


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 Twilight Lounge / Chippendolls, 1928 Rosewood Drive: 12 September 1997   105 comments

Posted at 11:46 pm in Uncategorized

This location, now a Gamecock memorabilia store, and apparently starting life as a college hang-out called The Twilight Lounge at one time housed one of the most controversial businesses in Columbia: Chippendolls, a nude dance club.

I'm not sure exactly when the place started. There is a very long and extremely dry 1995 legal opinion on Chippendolls's application for an ABC permit which suggests that the establishment became a strip club around 1988. I was living out of town for most of the period of the Chippendolls controversy, but my memory is that the club had the standard grumbles from the neighbors while it was a topless club, but was operating mostly below the radar of the city establishment as a whole.

That changed when the club decided to go from topless dancing to fully nude dancing. Apparently those few square inches of cloth made a big difference and trying to close the club became quite a local cause celebre for a while -- I believe there were a number of zoning efforts made to shut it down. Either one of them finally succeeded, or the club ran into trouble of its own making, as these places often do. For whatever reason, it has been gone for many years now. In fact, I was a bit surprised to see the 1995 date on the ABC action. If you had asked me, I would have said it hadn't lasted that long. The city continues to have a number of strip clubs, but I don't believe any dare to go bare now.

UPDATE 25 Aug 2009: Added The Twilight Lounge to the post title.

UPDATE 12 May 2010: Added the 1998 Bellsouth Yellow Pages ad for Chippendolls

UPDATE 10 June 2011: Changed the closing date in the post title to "12 September 1997" based on commenter Michelle's info. (Which made me relook at the phonebook mentioned above -- It's actually the Feb-97 through Feb-98 (ie mostly 1997) phonebook.

Written by ted on November 7th, 2008

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The Carriage House / Liquids Gentlemen's Club, 5511 Forest Drive: 2008   27 comments

Posted at 10:16 pm in closing

I changed my mind about getting on I-77 today, and turned onto Old Forest Drive at the Wal Mart meaning to hop over to Percival. As I did so, I noticed that Liquids Gentlemen's Club was closed.

I don't know what this building was originally (you can see where some windows have been bricked over), but when I was first aware of it, it was The Carriage House. I may be wrong, but I think this was the first (and for a good while only) strip club in Forest Acres, though the town boundries are kind of odd, so I'm not absolutely sure it is now, or was then in the city limits. The building abuts what was once a viable strip mall at the corner of Forest Drive & Percival Road and which had some sort of convience store, a barber shop and a few other stores which I have long forgotten. It also had a Putt-Putt course about which I posted earlier.

After The Carriage House folded, Liquids moved in (though there may have been a gap). Although the location isn't great, I suspect that it already being zoned for a strip club was a big factor. Either The State or The Free Times did a profile on the owner. I can't recall his name, but he was somehow connected with the Columbia Rap scene, either as a performer or a promoter. I don't know if that business took off and he dropped the club, if they were closed down for some violation or other, or if it just wasn't profitable. Whatever the case, Liquids has dried up.

UPDATE 2 June 2010: Added the full street address to the post title. Also did some googling and found out that the Liquids was granted a liquor license on 22 Feb 2006, but that it was revoked on 14 Feb 2007 for violations of the conditions under which is was issued -- I suspect that had a good deal to do with the club closing. Also, oddly, the first link states that the building was planned to be demolished in 2007 for a hospital, something I never heard of (and which obviously didn't happen).

UPDATE 13 Oct 2010 -- Apparently The Carriage House was a legit restaurant before it went topless. Here's an ad from the 1975-1976 Southern Bell directory:

UPDATE 11 Feb 2011 -- the place continues to deteriorate to the point that there is now a warning letter from the sherrif on the door:

UPDATE 4 April 2012 -- The building continues to degrade, but on some days it's prettier than on others:




UPDATE 1 March 2018 -- This building was razed long ago to build the back parking lot for the new Panera/Petco plaza, but here are some pictures from 16 July 2011:




















Quincy's Family Steakhouse / Stiletto's Strip Club, 7375 Two Notch Rd: 1990s, February 2008   28 comments

Posted at 5:16 pm in Uncategorized

Well this was a bit unexpected. I had been planning for a while to do a closing on Quncy's, but when I went there today to take the picture, I found the successor business, Stiletto's strip club had just closed down as well.

Quincy's Family Steakhouse was part of the second or third wave of steakhouses to hit Columbia, and at its peak, the best of breed in my opinion. The first wave consisted of places like Ponderosa Steak Barn about which I mean to do a post someday, while the second wave (or late first, I haven't decided) was places like Western Steer & Western Sizzling.

Quincy's was a very appealing operation for family Sunday lunches, and we ate there almost exclusively on Sunday for a number of years. You would go in, get in line, pick out your silverware and make your order which would be brought out with reasonable promptness. I thought they had a very good burger (which fewer places do well than you would expect), and their salad bar was unquestionably the best in Columbia. The waitresses were all friendly, and came to know and greet "the regulars". The only fly in the ointment was that whatever mechanism they used to wash the silverware wasn't very efficient, and you always ended up having to go through several knives and forks before coming up with unspotted ones.

I liked Quincy's well enough that when my employer started sending me to various cities around the South East, I would take the little list of "Our Other Locations" that used to be in a stand by your way out, to have somewhere familiar to eat when I travelled. (In practice, it would usually work out that either I didn't get to pick where we ate, or we would end up working so late that it was Denny's or nowhere..). I started noticing too that all Quincy's were not alike. The one on Two Notch was definitely the best one in Columbia, much better than the one on Forest Drive, and a bit better than the one off I-26 & US-378. The one in Surfside Beach was very good, the one in Florence, not so much.

Naturally like any chain with a generally winning concept, they started to tinker with it. First, the salad bar started to decline. They took the large wedges of chedder and pepper-jack cheese off, and would start skipping very basic things, like onions, more and more often. Then they decided that the "honor system" had to go. The initial concept was you got your ticket and paid on your way out. The new system was that you had to pay at the end of the ordering line. I suppose it reduced shrinkage some, and obviated the need for another employee and register stand at the door, but it also slowed up the line, and made it seem that you weren't quite trusted to pay for your food. Real decline set in after this, and the chain obviously realized it with their somewhat desperate ad campaigns for The Big, Fat Yeast Roll. The rolls were actually pretty good, but you want to think several times before launching a restaurant ad campaign in which the words "big" and "fat" play prominent roles.

I think the Forest Drive location was the first in Columbia to go, with Two Notch being the last. I believe the chain is still in business and has a few stores left, but I haven't seen one in several years.

I forget what moved into the Two Notch building after Quincy's, but it didn't last too long, and I think the building sat vacant a while before becoming Stiletto's. That brief-lived operation had a sign with a very shapely set of legs, the feet adorned with the aforementioned footware. I'm pretty sure I saw the sign as recently as last week, but I can't say for certain. The sign also mentioned that, like Quincy's, they had steaks on the menu, but I suspect "the sizzle" was more their stock in trade.

UPDATE 9 May 2008: New construction is going on at the old Quincy's/Stiletto's

Looks like it will be a "Harbor Inn", which either means that there will be two Harbor Inns within a mile or so of each other on Two Notch, or that the one in front of Bi-Lo (in the old Ryan's building) will be moving here.

UPDATE 22 March 2010: Added full street address (and some tags)

Written by ted on February 11th, 2008

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