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Shoney's, 600 Bush River Road: late December 2012   54 comments

Posted at 1:51 am in closing











As I've said here before, we used to eat at Shoney's all the time when I was growing up, and when they were still affiliated with the Big Boy brand. The Hot Fudge Cake was always a special treat, and there were free comic books for us kids. The chain lost its way sometime in the 80s, dropping Big Boy and trying to branch out into areas they knew nothing about, like running motels..

The Columbia stores gradually started closing, with Beltline, Charleston Highway, Forest Drive and Two Notch all gone by the time I moved back to town.

This location, across from the old Kmart has seemingly been in trouble for years, as they stopped serving dinner and were open only for breakfast and lunch. As the marquee farewell message mentions, the two stores left are the Garners Ferry and Airport Boulevard locations. I haven't been in the Airport store for 20 years or so, but I've been to the Garners Ferry location several times recently, and find it rather neutral -- neither particularly good nor particularly bad. As commenter Andrew has posted, the chain has now hired a turnaround CEO to try and get the brand back on track. I wish them well, and suggest trying to make up with Bob..

UPDATE 18 September 2013 -- As mentioned by commenter Andrew, this place is leased, and is to become a Cook Out>




(Hat tip to commenter Andrew)

UPDATE 19 April 2016 -- As mentioned by commenter Andrew, here is the excavator on the Shoney's lot:



UPDATE 10 May 2016: Some pix of the cleared lot(s) through traffic:





UPDATE 17 May 2016 -- A couple more pix of the vacant lot, though still not very good ones:



UPDATE 28 June 2016 -- Construction on the Cookout continues:




UPDATE 10 July 2016 -- Siding up now..




UPDATE 10 September 2020: Update tags, add map icon.

Written by ted on January 10th, 2013

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

54 Responses to 'Shoney's, 600 Bush River Road: late December 2012'

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  1. Don't forget about the one that used to be on Harbison, it was near the Longhorn. I don't know how this location held on for as long as it did. This was the closest to our house, growing up, and we used to eat there semi-often. It was a big deal to get to go for the breakfast buffet, you almost always had to put your name on the list and wait for a table when going for breakfast.


    10 Jan 13 at 7:40 am

  2. My office is nearby to this location and groups from work would often go by for lunch. I'd never joined them as I have no reason to eat at a Shoney's. If it was a Quincy's or something I'd be all over it.....


    10 Jan 13 at 8:55 am

  3. The Shoney's location ED mentions on Harbison is now an AT&T building...


    10 Jan 13 at 11:25 am

  4. Our HOA had a meeting at this location back in December. The breakfast buffet was horrible the staff was just as bad as the food and the place was not clean. We reserved the large room at 9:30 for a 10:00 meeting. They had scheduled another group for the same time. It was a huge mess. They they told us that if not everyone was eating we had to pay 25.00 for using the room. For my Birthday I always requested to go to Shoney's for the breakfast. It was a special treat. It is nothing like it use to be when I was a kid.


    10 Jan 13 at 2:18 pm

  5. The last time I ate there was in 1993. The biscuits and gravy was good. Ironic they are closing now, as with the church opening up across the street it might have been packed. However if it is like you said, it would not be for long. If there is nobody in there, that is one thing. If it is bad, that is certainly another. Buffets in general are not that good. Nothing beats ordering off the menu.


    10 Jan 13 at 3:16 pm

  6. So who is the Bob that it is suggested Shoney's make up to in the main post??


    10 Jan 13 at 7:33 pm

  7. I agree about that the new church might have brought them some business but don't forget there are three churches down Bush River on the other side of I-20 and at least four churches up the street where Bush River and Broad River come together.

    I think in the end it was the restaurant death spiral, people don't go there because the food isn't that good and with buffets if they don't have people eating then the food sits out too long and it becomes worse.


    10 Jan 13 at 9:22 pm

  8. Bob.


    10 Jan 13 at 10:15 pm

  9. I assume that the Bob being referred to is Bob Wian the founder of the Bob's Big Boy restaurant chain. When I was a kid my folks and I used to drive from Irmo to the airport location (I think it was the first in town) just to get a Big Boy burger and a slice of the strawberry pie. At the time I thought it was the best burger in town plus I always got the comic book that was on the cashier's table. After they pulled away from the chain they still maintained quality even, for a while, after they implemented the buffet. The Friday seafood buffet was a great bargain at first. The food was great and you could gorge yourself for less than 10 bucks. The last time I was at the Dutch Square location was 10+ years ago and the seafood sucked!! The boiled shrimp were like rubber and I think all of the seafood was fried in the same grease. About the only thing edible on the bar were the hush puppies and french fries. The decor was getting really weathered and there was an odor that just wasn't right. But, in reality, it was no more run down than everything else in the area. I don't think a chain like Shoney's can survive with the plethora of other restaurants there are to choose from today.


    11 Jan 13 at 12:12 am

  10. Shoney's brings back a lot childhood memories. Like Ted, I remember the Big Boy affiliation (with the one in Augusta Ga) and I got the Hot Fudge cake as a treat on several birthdays!

    That being said, I'm amazed this location lasted as long as it did. I went here with a girl in 1999 and the service was terrible! We sat for an hour before a manager came to the table and said they were having "kitchen problems." We missed our movie and it took 2 hours to get soup and sandwiches. I never went back.


    11 Jan 13 at 8:09 pm

  11. I was doubting it actually closed since none of the signage had been removed yet, but the Shoney's road signage has now been covered by a gray tarp. Judging from the other commets, it sounds like a lackluster reputation emerged that finally did them in.


    12 Jan 13 at 3:01 am

  12. Shoney's had the rights to "Big Boy" in the Southeastern states, but when the company wanted to expand beyond ithat region, it was informed that they could not use Big Boy outside of their designated territory so they dropped it.


    15 Jan 13 at 5:03 pm

  13. Doesn't the restaurant on Hwy 1 at intersection of the road that goes to the airport (Watling Rd maybe?) still have a Big Boy statue?


    21 Jan 13 at 1:49 pm

  14. I believe you are thinking of "Fat Boy", not "Big Boy".


    22 Jan 13 at 12:53 am

  15. Yeah - that is "Fat Boy". My Dad used to eat there all the time. He said they had some right tasty burgers.


    23 Jan 13 at 1:31 am

  16. BTW - is What-a-burger still open in W. Cola??


    23 Jan 13 at 1:32 am

  17. Is the "Fat Boy" statue still there? Are they related?


    23 Jan 13 at 9:41 pm

  18. @Homer, What-a-burger can be found 804 Meeting Street in West Columbia.

    Fat Boy is still running at 3260 Augusta Rd in West Columbia. It's on the Woodberry side of the intersection, where Woodberry meets Wattling. I haven't been but have been eying going for at least 5 or 6 years now...


    24 Jan 13 at 12:07 am

  19. Thanks. But is the statue still there?


    24 Jan 13 at 2:39 am

  20. I don't remember any statue, but Fat Boys has wonderful fried chicken, Greek salads and burgers. The Greek specials are great as well. And the cost is very reasonable for the amount of food you get.


    6 Mar 13 at 1:12 am

  21. In the last few days, I've noticed signage indicating that this place has now been leased (no sign as to who just yet so stay tuned)...


    24 Jul 13 at 3:36 pm

  22. folks, not only is there signage indicating this property has been leased (from NAI Avant), there is a sign indicating that on August 13, 2013 at 10 AM at the Eau Claire Print Building there is a hearing to rezone this property and that they are to allow for a drive-thru location...

    I currently theorize that the following are most likely:

    - PDQ (planning to open at the former BK at 4416 Devine Street and is reported to be in growth mode)
    - Cookout

    Another longshot I'd welcome is Jack in the Box (I'd love to see them make their way down here)

    I have even darted around Fat Boy but wonder if they have any locations besides the one at US#1 and Woodberry in West Columbia (keep meaning to try it but never have)

    I think the following are unlikely due to the fact that they have established locations within a 2-3 mile radius:

    - McDonald's (just remodeled their location in fact at Broad River & Dutch Square Blvd.)
    - Burger King (remodel completed at 2216 Bush River Road this spring, now features the Coco-Cola Freestyle)
    - Wendy's (looks to be well established next to St. Andrews Baptist Church and has been for a good number of years (no idea exactly how many))
    - Zaxby's (built on a vacant lot across from Boozer Shopping Center next to Wendy's about 8-10 years ago)
    - Chick-Fil-A (Boozer Shopping Center location humming along and has been for a good 10-15 years now)
    - Bojangles (though they have opened several locations in the Columbia MSA in the last 2-3 years, they have a location established at 2423 Broad River Road that was knocked down & rebuilt about 5-8 years ago)
    - KFC (remodeled their 2104 Broad River Road location somewhere around 3-5 years ago)

    I think whatever it is will see much business from NewSpring Church (open across the street the former Kmart (keep in mind the Kmart's closing was the one that lead me to discover this site)) on Sundays...

    There's also a (less likely IMO) possibility that it'll become a bank or even a Walgreens.


    1 Aug 13 at 3:50 pm

  23. Andrew,
    I agree with you on new business coming to the Bush River area because of New Spring. I go to New Spring and can tell you that we have a lot of young people like my self going there and a lot of people with young kids. We average around 3500-4000+ on any given Sunday over 3 services. The church is growing by leaps. I would not be surprised if any another service was added soon. Youth meet on Wednesdays and have 400-500. That being said with all the young people new spring is bring the area I think business will take notice and come to the area or even fix up their current business.


    1 Aug 13 at 7:23 pm

  24. folks, I have been rumbling over the last couple of weeks trying to figure out what is about to happen here based on BoZA signage that something is about to take place.

    I finally found the packet on the City of Columbia's Board of zoning appeals and here's what I gathered:

    - The Shoney's will be demolished
    - Next door to this there looks to be a former auto store/service place of some sort (not sure of any details) that will be demolished as well

    These two buildings are being demolished to make way for:



    which was on my 'short list' of possibilities when I found out this place will be rezoned for a drive-thru...


    15 Aug 13 at 4:41 am

  25. The entire Bush River Rd area I really don't see making a comeback anytime soon. Until Dutch Square came along in 1970, that whole area was a dead-zone other than Boozer for those of us that lived in that area, and then there was a teeny tiny Red & White Grocery store. But from 1970 through the 80's or there of, Bush River Rd was a hot-spot for sure. It's nice to see a Church (what I call the NEW PLT Club) has taken over the old Kmart building and the Church that's taken over the old Service Mdse building, but I don't see that area being what it used to be or attracting the business out there again. The NEW "hot spot" seems to be on Garners Ferry all the way up to Walmart, and that area was dead in the 80's and earlier.
    And the other hot spot would be from past "Sesqui" all the way up to Target seems to be jumping quite a bit still.. but back to bush river and broad river roads..they are a thing of the past, and it may be another 10 or so years before anything happens over there again..or it may not. Time will tell.


    15 Aug 13 at 5:18 am

  26. The biggest vacancy at this point that springs to mind with regard to Bush River Road) following Hamrick's move into the former Circuit City about a year ago now is the former Key West Grill that has sat vacant for a good 8-10 years now...I think having 2 interstates to draw from will help but no one has stepped in just yet...but I know it can't stay vacant forever...


    15 Aug 13 at 6:32 am

  27. @semiquaver2013: I would guess that Shoney's wasn't pleased with his use of "Big Boy" since they were a licensee of the name.


    15 Aug 13 at 10:49 am

  28. Great job on finding that information, Andrew. I will be looking forward to Cookout coming there. Since I go to the church that was described as "The New PTL Club". I have to be honest I am not even sure what that means.



    16 Aug 13 at 12:59 am

  29. I myself was wondering what a PLT club is (as semiquaver2013 described it) but I there is no doubt in mind that NewSpring will give them plenty of business on the Sunday services as well as any weeknights they have activies (Wednesday striking me as the most likely as I know Wednesday to be a popular night for church activities)...


    16 Aug 13 at 1:20 am

  30. None of you remember the PTL club with Jim and Tammy Bakker and all the thousands of members that there were up at Ft. Mill South Carolina near Carowinds? The New Life Church reminds me of that because of the LARGE crowd of people that go there. I personally am Southern Baptist and prefer the traditional church services..but there are others that think the same too. Be that as it may..Church or no Church or really anything is gonna bring back to Bush River Rd what was.. it's a "past-tense", an "am-was" place to be. The new hot spots are Garners Ferry/Sumter Hiway and from Polo Road to Target on Two Notch.


    16 Aug 13 at 4:18 am

  31. I call the megachurches Six Flags over Jeebus.


    16 Aug 13 at 11:32 am

  32. I did some research and it appears that Jim & Tammy Faye's ministry collapsed in 1987...I didn't come along until 1988. They divorced in 1992.

    Tammy Faye Bakker Messner died on July 20, 2007 and she gave her last interview within 36 hours of her death on Larry King Live and there are clips on YouTube that you can watch.

    I'm a Lutheran but I agree with semiquaver2013 as far as the traditional services. I don't connect with very much of the contemporary christian stuff and I wouldn't enjoy NewSpring all that much as a result. I just wish I could find a church with traditional worship with a group of young adults to enjoy the company of...

    Despite all this, I was happy to see them making use of a former Kmart building than had been vacant for 3 years...they attract more people than I ever remember the Kmart attracting...

    I never went in the Kmart all that much but did make it a few times and last time I did it felt state of the art ca. it had been overhauled for the Big K brand I remember being debuted in the mid-late 90s but not much after that. Plus someone would go on the intercom and it sounded like the intercom was in desperate need of replacement.

    Not too far from the Target at 10204 Two Notch Road, there is a new shopping development with construction underway that is to be anchored by Hobby Lobby. It's at the intersection of Two Notch and Fore Avenue...Fore Avenue leads directly into the Two Notch entrance of the Village at Sandhill...


    16 Aug 13 at 4:54 pm

  33. I wonder what kind of incentive Cookout got to build something there? Even with New Life Church across the street, it still wont revitalize that area. It'll be good to see something new there for a change, but how long will it last before it falls apart like the rest of the area.? Remember how busy it used to be in that area with "Scottish Inn", "Western Sizzler" and some motel behind that, Texaco gas station, Board Walk Plaza, Kmart, Dutch Square (when it was a hot spot), Hardees, and from there on back Bush River Mall with Richway, The Ho-Jo Inn, Mr. Donut, and the Thrifty Mart Grocery store that became Food Town, then Food Lion.. but that was like many many years ago. Is anyone old enough to remember the "Duke and Dutchess" Restaurant, and the old "E-Z" Convenience store?


    17 Aug 13 at 5:03 am

  34. I think they were called " E-Z Mart".


    17 Aug 13 at 5:04 am

  35. I do recall the station at Bush River & Morninghill (where a Shell Station is now) being a Texaco back in the 90s...

    I know Kmart was there but we rarely went (parents seemed to prefer the store at Seven Oaks Shopping center and I got to where I felt Seven Oaks's was best kept of them as I got to know the other Kmart locations around).

    Richway folded in 1988...the year I was born.

    Hardee's still plugs along right there at Arrowood and Dutch Square...granted it doesn't have the playground it once did (but even when I was Elementary School age, I wasn't that interested in playgrounds at fast food places). In recent years, Burger King and to a lesser extent McDonald's have moved away from having playgrounds on site.

    Most of the other stuff semiquaver2013 describes sounds like it was pre-Columbiana meaning it was before I came along as I was 2 when Columbiana opened.

    I admittedly am not the best as far as keeping up with convenience store ability is hit and miss with regard to keeping track of what is where.


    17 Aug 13 at 7:59 pm

  36. Also, My impression is that Cookout appears to be a restaurant company in expansion mode and they saw an opportunity to fill a void where Shoney's was and they are stepping in to utilize a vacant piece of property...


    17 Aug 13 at 8:12 pm

  37. Andrew,

    I agree with what your saying regarding Cookout. I heard from a friend they are building one in Lexington but I have not see it where it is yet. I had just posted on his FB that it was coming along nicely.


    18 Aug 13 at 3:51 pm

  38. Mu understanding is that Lexington's Cookout will be opening in the former Taco Bell at 515 West Main Street next door to a former Blockbuster that closed in late March 2013...but no official signage has been posted and it doesn't look like construction has gotten very far on it as of yet (but the property has sold). I do keep an eye on it when I am out that way but haven't seen much progress on it as of yet...


    18 Aug 13 at 5:40 pm

  39. Cayce needs a Cookout or a Central Park. Central Park is the burger-bomb-diggity.


    19 Aug 13 at 11:34 am

  40. I noticed a sign that said the building had been leased. Anyone know anything about this??


    4 Oct 13 at 11:54 pm

  41. @Homer -- read the post and comments :-)


    5 Oct 13 at 12:14 am

  42. Oops - missed that post....


    5 Oct 13 at 1:18 am

  43. The real estate signage has now been updated to say something to the effect that Cookout will be coming soon to this it's simply a matter of how long until the demolition commences


    24 Apr 14 at 9:59 pm

  44. I've noticed an excavator on this site making me think that the plans for Cookout are finally moving forward (but will have to stay tuned to see where it goes)...


    17 Apr 16 at 7:42 pm

  45. So the Cycle Performance building next door (which I thought had featured here but there's no sign of it that I could find) has been reduced to a pile of rubbel...


    18 Apr 16 at 8:30 pm

  46. Yes, there was a Cycle Performance post. It got lost in the database crash, but I was just now able to restore it from the Internet Wayback Machine and it's now here.

    I've also put a few pictures of the excavator on this post and that one.


    19 Apr 16 at 1:24 am

  47. Ok folks the excavator has done what it does best with this former Shoney's by reducing it to a pile of rubble...

    Looks like Cookout is moving forward...


    21 Apr 16 at 11:19 pm

  48. It's nice to have a Cookout in this area.


    13 May 16 at 7:01 am

  49. Went by the site this weekend and even the rubble is gone. I hope the best for Cookout, guess we'll just wait and see....


    16 May 16 at 2:12 am

  50. Earlier in June passed by and there is 2-story steel structure, but no significant change from a week or so earlier. Will try to check again tomorrow and see what has happened since.


    21 Jun 16 at 4:28 am

  51. I drove by here today and the framing of the steel structure seemed to indicate it might be a small 3-business strip mall. The side of the building had a window area built into the framing, which could be a drive-thru window.

    James R.

    21 Jun 16 at 5:44 pm

  52. There were plans to have a Cookout here that had been in the works for about 3 years now and I even found a Board of Zoning Appeals packet taking about the plans but I don't know how to access it anymore...I have felt all along that the Cookout planned for this site is finally moving gut is that it'll be open in time for Halloween (perhaps even Labor Day)...


    21 Jun 16 at 7:52 pm

  53. Saw Cookout signage while passing by on the other side of the street Aug 30. Interior looks pretty complete, and the drink dispenser had a light on. Haven't gone back to see if anything on the door about opening plans, and nothing on the marquee under the name sign. After the length of time I assumed they had changed their mind, but one of these days they will probably be selling stuff.


    31 Aug 16 at 8:52 pm

  54. Folks this Cookout is NOW OPEN!!!!!


    8 Sep 16 at 9:01 pm

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