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USC Burger King, 1211 College Street: 1990s   15 comments

Posted at 10:11 pm in closing

I was rather surprised when I learned in the 90s, that all of the Burger King restaurants in Columbia were run by the same franchisee. I know Columbia is not a huge city, but it's not tiny, and I just assumed that a chain like Burger King would have a number of local franchisees. Of course, the only reason I know this at all is because the local franchisee had a complete falling out with the Burger King corporation itself during the 1990s. I don't remember the details now, and I'm sure there was a lot of finger pointing on both sides, but the upshot was that all the Burger King restaurants in Columbia ended up being shut down -- all of them, and for a long time. It was kind of an unprecedented situation in my experience.

It didn't matter much to me becase a) I was living out of town at the time, and b) I was increasingly disenchanted with fast food places at the time (this was before outfits like Moe's and Five Guys made fast food fun again) and especially with Burger King. Nonetheless, it was odd to drive past all the Burger Kings and see them stitting empty. This particular Burger King was on College Street between Main and Sumter Streets right by Cool Beans coffee shop. I had eaten there a number of times over the years, and they always seemed to do a good business with the college crowd.

Eventually, corporate found new franchisees for most of the BKs in Columbia, and made an event of the general re-opening, even getting South Carolina's "Blues Doctor", Drink Small to cut some celeberatory commercials. By then though, the University had already bought the USC BK, and it never reopened. The building has since been razed, and the land is now yet another offical USC parking lot.

Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce!

UPDATE 22 March 2010: Added full street address to post title.

Written by ted on August 31st, 2008

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15 Responses to 'USC Burger King, 1211 College Street: 1990s'

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  1. All those Burger Kings deserved to be shut down. The worst service in Columbia.

    Behind this particular one, between Hunter Gatherer and Miyo's, was a two-story brick building that dated from Reconstruction. It's now a parking lot too. Downstairs was The Dairy Bar, home of Columbia's original pimento burger and thick strawberry milkshakes. It was straight out of the 50s and was terrific. Always packed at lunch time. Had ancient, authentic USC memorabilia on the walls worth an ebay fortune.

    For a short time in the 70s there was a Christian coffee house/hangout called the Upper Room. It was one huge room with really old (1890s?) detailing and I always wondered what it had been built for originally.


    1 Sep 08 at 5:20 am

  2. meant to say that The Upper Room was upstairs over The Dairy Bar.


    1 Sep 08 at 5:21 am

  3. That two story reconstruction era building was an old fire house.


    1 Sep 08 at 12:17 pm

  4. Apparently the franchisee just didn't pay the licensing fee. At least that is what I heard when all the BKs closed up.
    Don't knock the parking lots, I hope to one have a parking sticker that gets me out of the coliseum lot.


    2 Sep 08 at 7:20 am

  5. I remember there was an independent bk out in the spring valley area. I used to make special trips there during the time when all the bks were closed.

    MR Bill

    2 Sep 08 at 8:29 am

  6. Odd that you mention that an entire franchise market for a whole town shut down. In Charlotte, NC (and some outlying bedroom communities too), we had a similar situation where all of a sudden, nearly all of the BK's shut down during the same time period (mid to late 1990's). I wonder if it was the same franchisee? Or maybe BK just changed their licensing terms that ticked-off their big-ticket franchisees to the point that they all closed their shops?


    5 Sep 08 at 5:35 pm

  7. Well, looks like my sense of timing was off by a few years, as usual, but here's what I can find in The State archives (without paying for the full stories):

    State - July 7, 2001 - A1 FRONT


    In the last week, 12 Burger King restaurants in Richland and Lexington counties have closed, putting about 500 people out of work because of a financial dispute between the franchise owner and Burger King Corp. In June, the fast-food chain first informed James A. Hinton, a principal owner of 18 Midlands Burger King franchises, that he was in default on his franchise agreements for some of the restaurants. Later, the company ordered Hinton to close them. Hinton's franchises are...


    State - June 15, 2002 - B6 BUSINESS


    Burger King served its first Whoppers on Garners Ferry Road in about a year on Friday. Bob Brandi, owner of area Pitt Stop convenience stores, said he's thrilled to bring more Burger Kings to the Columbia area. The fast food giant closed 18 area restaurants last summer after a financial dispute with its former franchisee. Brandi said Burger Kings will enhance his Pitt Stop locations, and he has a personal reason to welcome the fast food giant. "Oh,...

    >> Purchase complete article, of 341 words


    6 Sep 08 at 12:07 am

  8. Brandi. lmao. I used to look at my bank statements like WTH is Brandi corp. Then I started noticing that the amounts were the same as what I bought at bk. I felt stupid.

    I do remember the bk's closing, but I was a micky d's person, so it didn't really matter. I too thought it was the mid to late 90s. Guess not.


    7 Jul 10 at 6:58 am

  9. hinton owned and operated 85 stores in sc and texas and had to close them all. They raised franchisee fees by almost double if I remember right and he refused to pay what he felt was extortion and he wasn't the only one if I remember right. He was ordered to shut them all down. I know whataburger went in to some in texas.


    6 Oct 10 at 10:23 am

  10. The BK in the zoo never closed during that time, although it is no longer a BK( according to info received in another posting here.) They would not, however, honor the coupons that the state newspaper would still faithfully distribute even though ALMOST all the BKs were closed in Richland and Lexington counties.


    7 Oct 10 at 5:08 pm

  11. May I just take a moment to say that the Zoo Burger King was the worst of the worst.

    In every way.

    So glad they are gone.


    7 Oct 10 at 6:30 pm

  12. Here are the full articles Ted mentioned earlier in the post:



    During the time they were closed, Columbia area BK fans had to go to 10030 Two Notch Road, Dorn VA Medical Center, Riverbanks Zoo, Fort Jackson or Batesburg/Leesville to get their fix.


    12 May 11 at 8:08 pm

  13. I remember being so upset about this, it's not like I even ate that much BK, but in the summer of 01 they all closed, and I all of the sudden I realized I had taken them for granted. All the newer ones seem to have horrible service, also I'm not too fond of eating in restaurants that are attached to gas stations.


    19 Dec 16 at 3:22 pm

  14. Now the Sandy's on campus is closing. I just realized I haven't eaten there in 20 years but somehow the closing is disturbing.

    Joe Shlabotnik

    21 Dec 16 at 3:29 am

  15. The Burger King stores began to reopen in 2002 according to the article, but the USC store seems to have been flattened between 2005 and 2006.

    Aaron J.

    9 Aug 20 at 2:25 pm

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