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Romano's Macaroni Grill, 148 Harbison Boulevard: May 2016   24 comments

Posted at 12:13 am in closing















The first time I encountered Macaroni Grill was in Overland Park Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City). I used to get sent there often for contract work we were doing for US Sprint, which had a headquarters just a few blocks from the restaurant. It was a lively place, always crowded and with vigorous service: The servers would write their name in bold strokes on your table, and there were usually a few who would burst into Opera arias several times during a meal. The food was good too; they had an excellent Margherita pizza along with standard Italian dishes, and the bread was top-notch: large flavorful loaves served with cracked pepper and olive oil from bottles on the tables.

(The only negative about this particular place is that it has the distinction of being the only restaurant I've ever gone where the hostess implied that a bribe would get us seated..)

Anyway, after I stopped being sent to Kansas, I was glad to find that a Macaroni had opened in Columbia and I went a number of times, but it was never quite the same. There were definitely no singing servers, the Margherita pizza was off the menu and the bread loaves seemed smaller, and not as flavorful. I took a several year break after concluding that I had gotten mild food posioning after one visit, and the next time I went back, the place was almost empty, the menu was odd, the olive oil bottles were gone and I had the feeling that I was imposing on the staff by ordering food. When they brought the bill while I was still eating, and without offering me dessert (it was well before offical closing) I decided I was in no hurry to come back, and in fact did not.

Still, those were some good times back in the day..

(Hat tip to commenter Steve)

UPDATE 17 May 2017 -- I see that the Overland Park location I mention above has closed.

UPDATE 30 August 2017 -- The upfit to BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse is done, and they will be open on 4 September 2017:








Written by ted on May 16th, 2016

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24 Responses to 'Romano's Macaroni Grill, 148 Harbison Boulevard: May 2016'

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  1. Personally, I can't see how all of the restaurants around Harbison and Lake Murray Blvd stay in business. There is such a glut of fast food and fast casuals that it's crazy! I could probably eat at one per day for three months, if not more, and still not be finished!!


    16 May 16 at 2:10 am

  2. This location could be good but couldn't handle groups well. we prefer to eat at Carraba's, they don't try and push the table wine on you like Marcaroni Grill did, for some reason that always bothered me.

    I agree with Homer that there does seem to be a glut of restaurants around Harbison but I am also amazed at how long people will wait to eat at places like Texas Road house or Oliver Garden.


    16 May 16 at 8:15 am

  3. My theory is that restaurants like to locate in clusters...

    I myself enjoyed eating here several times with my folks but it had been a while since we'd been...I think I'd like to see it become Logan's.

    I do remember one time I was there that one of the servers sang Happy Birthday in what I thought at the time was Italian but I'm not sure.

    One restaurant that is a master at turning tables quickly (based on my experience) is Real Mexico.


    16 May 16 at 4:00 pm

  4. A quick Google search reveals they CLOSED all of their Missouri locations within the past year and many more as well as the brand being sold between private equities in the last year.

    I liked the fact you could draw on the tables and atmosphere was memorable but the food wasn't.


    16 May 16 at 11:13 pm

  5. Dustin

    16 May 16 at 11:14 pm

  6. That's unfortunate. Of the chain Italian places in the area, Macaroni Grill was my favorite by far - which isn't saying a lot, but still. Carrabba's has slid down to Olive Garden in terms of never wanting to set foot inside again.

    Ah well. Perhaps someday we'll rate a Brio or Maggiano's or even a Spaghetti Factory.


    17 May 16 at 12:33 pm

  7. Jason, Columbia had a Spaghetti Factory. Nobody liked it.


    17 May 16 at 10:55 pm

  8. Homer, your comment reminds me of Yogi Berra.
    "Nobody goes there any more, it's too crowded."


    17 May 16 at 10:57 pm

  9. My apologies, Jason. It was a Spaghetti Warehouse.


    17 May 16 at 10:59 pm

  10. @JBL - Well, I did have a few adult beverages in me at the time. So, I blame


    18 May 16 at 2:19 am

  11. Our family visited there several times and generally had a pretty good visit most every time. It wasn't spectacular, but had a nice casual feel to it, nice decor, with good food and not too expensive. Much better than the super-salty Carabba's fare or the super-slow Olive Garden!


    29 May 16 at 9:21 am

  12. Would be a great location for a red lobster!

    Willie P

    29 Jun 16 at 4:55 pm

  13. Personally, I'd like to see a Harbor Inn somewhere around Harbison....


    29 Jun 16 at 10:58 pm

  14. I think Harbor Inn would go in the former Ryan's before going in this building though (it seems more like their style)...


    29 Jun 16 at 11:23 pm

  15. Looks like a construction fence has gone up around this location. Anyone know what is coming???


    14 Feb 17 at 7:30 am

  16. This building is in the midst of a date with an excavator (will advise if I can figure anything else out)...


    15 Feb 17 at 2:46 pm

  17. It's to be BJ's Restaurant and Brewpub. Sounds like they're going to have an onsite brewery.


    3 Mar 17 at 6:41 pm

  18. BJ's Brewhouse is pretty good. I have been to the one in Baltimore a few times with my brother- and sister-in-law. They order a variety of craft beers and some unique pub style food. I hope Jason is correct. Currently, the nearest one to Columbia is either Raliegh, NC or Winston-Salem, NC.

    Here is a link to BJ's website to start checking it out early.

    James R

    4 Mar 17 at 12:14 am

  19. I drove by this today and noticed that it looked like it was open despite the fact that there wasn't any opening signage but a quick check on the website (based on James's link) offered me confirmation that BJ's Restuarant and Brewhouse is now officially open!


    9 Sep 17 at 9:23 pm

  20. BTW this is BJ's first South Carolina location...


    9 Sep 17 at 9:24 pm

  21. My son ate dinner at BJ's with his girlfriends family on Sunday and he said it was absolutely packed. They actually called ahead to see how busy it was and they let them make a reservation, otherwise they probably would have gone someplace else.


    11 Sep 17 at 11:48 am

  22. So, did he like it?


    11 Sep 17 at 11:29 pm

  23. He is 17. Its not cool to like anything. When i asked him if the food was good he shrugged and said, "I guess"

    Further questioning led to earbuds being placed in his ears, something he claims is music being played at dangerous decibel levels, and the not so subtle tuning out of dad.


    12 Sep 17 at 8:37 am

  24. I haven't been for myself but as I was reading BJ's website the thing stood out to me is how wide a variety of stuff you can find...everything from seafood, pasta, appetizers, sliders, sandwiches, salads, burgers and even a diverse array of beverages...something for just about any palette you can think of...


    12 Sep 17 at 10:17 pm

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