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T.G.I. Friday's, 3400 Forest Drive #1024: 15 March 2013   19 comments

Posted at 7:11 pm in Uncategorized



























As I said in Have Your Say the other day: "This is Huge".

It's not just that T.G.I. Friday's is closed, but that the knock-on effect for Richland Mall will be awful. The biggest shoe still in the air there is Barnes & Noble. That chain is undergoing a brutal round of store closures right now, and I already was expecting the Richland Mall store to not survive it. That's because Richland Mall is clearly a marginal B&N location -- It was never open as late as the bulk of the chain, and then even those hours were cut drastically several years ago. But now, there is another factor in play above and beyond the general woes of the chain and the specific numbers for the Richland Mall store. I hope I'm wrong, but even if they had wanted to keep it open before, I think the closing of an adjoining anchor will tip the balance.

As for the mall itself, this negates all the minor good publicity they've had with their little moves like the Ping Pong Plaza and Sadie's. It's hard to see a future for the place as retail with only Belk holding down the storefront. I think it would have made a good City Hall for Forest Acres, but that ship just sailed.

As for Friday's itself? Well, I've eaten there a good number of times over the years. We used to go there quite often on weekends and have the Nine Layer Dip, but then they discontinued that for some reason. I recall one time in particular when they brought out the chips for that dip, and someone had sprinkled them with sugar instead of salt -- and this was for all the chips in the restaurant, they couldn't bring us a good batch!

I also remember they used to have an extremely decadent ice-cream sundae cookie kind of thing, and I had one in celebration the only time I ever sold a story. They discontinued that too..

I could see the writing on the wall a few years ago. This used to be a reliable place to get a decent burger up until 11pm all during the week, but I stopped by one night to find that they had moved the weekday closing hours up to 10pm. They had also discontinued the really good cheese-patty-on-top-of-a-burger that they had at the time. Hmm, that seems to be a theme here..

My sister mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she had heard the place was closing, so I made sure to get some nighttime pictures a few days ago, and I was going to drop by this weekend for old times sake and sneak a few inside pictures along with my burger, but that was not to be. Since this was a planned closing, I fully expected that they would go until the end of the month, but maybe they chose a Friday on purpose..

(Hat tip to my sister.)

UPDATE 14 November 2014 -- The place is to become The Seafood Academy Restaurant & Bar:




UPDATE 25 November 2014 -- The Seafood Academy appears close to opening:






Written by ted on March 15th, 2013

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19 Responses to 'T.G.I. Friday's, 3400 Forest Drive #1024: 15 March 2013'

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  1. Good location, ample parking, quality food......and thousands of affluent households within a 5 mile radius.


    I enjoyed this restaurant for 24 years.


    16 Mar 13 at 6:43 am

  2. I always enjoyed Friday's. I always look for one when I am out of town on business. The food is good. The only reason this one closed is because the rest of the mall stinks and since there were no people except for the church crowed on Sunday it could not survive. I think the best thing for Richland Mall is to shut down and tear the thing down and build an office building. Retail is not going to survive there.


    16 Mar 13 at 9:22 am

  3. The original Mall should NEVER been torn down. Columbia is full of stupid people that have done stupid things in the past 40 years tearing things down that should NOT have been torn down. As the saying goes: if it aint broke, dont fix it. The old Mall could have been remodeled or something to that affect and it would have done just fine still.. but NOOOO, someone got the smart Idea to put a new upscale "Fashion" Mall there with high end stores that the average person couldnt afford to buy unless you're one of the rich snobby columbians that has zillions of dollars to spend. Barnes and Nobel will be next I think..then the collaps of Sadies. It's time to tear that Mall down and rebuild the original Mall back..just updated.


    16 Mar 13 at 11:52 am

  4. I was getting ready to second Mike's notion that this had

    Century Capitol Group in conjunction with Kahn Development have been seeking, for 3 years now to try to bring new life into Richland Mall. They have brought in a few things, enough to backfill the departure of S&S and Bath & Body Works. They also have a pet grooming place of some sort open near where Eckerd once was. They also have a farmer's market. But the first thing they did was change the name from Midtown at Forest Acres back to Richland Mall.

    My vision for redeveloping Richland Mall is to make a center along the lines Sparkelberry Square with an upgraded Kroger.


    16 Mar 13 at 12:02 pm

  5. Getting back to the subject of T.G.I. Friday's, they need to open a new location in the Harbison area and/or Lexington.


    17 Mar 13 at 7:48 am

  6. I second what Eddie said!


    17 Mar 13 at 11:19 am

  7. I agree Eddie! I always loved eating at TGIF's. It would be a great addition especially since O'Charley's left Harbison!!!


    17 Mar 13 at 9:44 pm

  8. Stick a fork in the mall...


    18 Mar 13 at 6:52 am

  9. I checked out the website that is hosting the auction on 3/27. Lots of pictures on the inside for anyone that's interested in taking a peek.

    I'm tempted to go down there and bid on some bar stools, haha.

    I second everything that's been said here. I am really going to miss this place. Lots of memories there, and I still enjoyed going semi-regularly. Hopefully they can find another home in Columbia in the not-too-distant future.


    22 Mar 13 at 8:08 am

  10. Also, silly question but I can't remember - does anyone know if there was anything in the "upstairs" of the restaurant, or is the second story just part of the facade?


    22 Mar 13 at 8:11 am

  11. I don't think the current location had an upstairs. The old location on the other side of the entrance did, though.


    22 Mar 13 at 9:02 am

  12. I would love to see a TGIF over in Lexington Harbison area, I loved eating at this one but the location at the mall that never was just wasn't going to work for them long term with all the new places to eat in the area. Lenscrafters is still in the Mall, wonder if they will survive. I do go there still for glasses and eye exams, but there isn't much chance I would walk around anyplace else. I like the idea of turning this place into something else, but what.


    3 Apr 13 at 7:32 pm

  13. I can't believe this! I live near there and often stopped and picked up salad to take home for supper. I do not understand why this mall can't get and keep good quality stores and restaurants -- it is the only mall convenient to the Shandon and Forest Acres areas, which are pretty affluent. Granted, the design of the building and the parking areas are odd, but still, I would prefer to shop here instead of going to Sandills or Columbiana.


    5 Apr 13 at 9:44 am

  14. I attended the auction for a few minutes and saw several $10 items going for $40-$45. I must be cheap because I went home empty handed.


    7 Apr 13 at 2:20 am

  15. I worked here in 1992, the year that TGI Friday's started using packet foods - Ten years later, it was all "Formula", and no real cooking. Fridays was horribly mismanaged, even then, but the "OOh - It's New!" factor was still in effect, and people were more forgiving of glaringly obvious problems at that time.

    Personally, I stand with semiquaver2013 - I lived in an orphanage a mile away in the early 80's, and I remember the original open-air mall. I went there a lot. There was a theater, food court and shopping, without so much snobbery. The idea of a high-end "fashion mall" pretty much alienated the people who lived in the surrounding areas. Richland Mall never matured to the level of Columbia Mall (back in its prime).

    I live in Seattle now, and those pictures brought back memories of coming in for the 7am prep...ungh! But still, they brought a smile to my face.

    Bobbe Edmonds

    4 Feb 14 at 10:01 am

  16. Bobbe,

    Please talk a little bit more about how the food was prepared. I have always been interested in that part of the restaurant.



    4 Feb 14 at 11:56 am

  17. I tend to think that the 'package' approach is how most of the 'fast casual' restaurants do business. How else can the food taste absolutely the same each time you visit while you know there are no actual chefs in the kitchen. If I am wrong please let me know, but to me this style of cooking is related to the 'one bag' meals that are being sold in grocery stores now. Everything you need is either pre-mixed, pre-measured or both. All you have to do is be able to read the instructions and put it all together and you have an entree.

    I remember a comment made on The Whale's Tail entry several years ago about the oyster stew they served. People actually thought there was a big pot of this stuff simmering in the kitchen just waiting for hungry patrons. Well, the recipe was:
    Take a few oysters out of a 1 gallon bucket. Add a couple of tablespoons of the oyster liquor, throw in a pat of butter, a little salt and pepper, fill the bowl with milk and nuke it until hot. Talk about rocket science.....


    5 Feb 14 at 12:49 am

  18. Some years ago I worked at the corporate offices of Darden, who own Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and some other concepts. Each one had a test kitchen onsite, and what went on in there was testing presentations to get the best look on the plate while using less of the expensive ingredients (and more of the inexpensive ones, of course). The sauces and whatnot were most certainly pre-prepared and were delivered frozen to the restaurants. Meats and vegetables were cut and made fresh, but the flavor side of things came out of a bag. All the cooks really did was reheat and assemble.


    5 Feb 14 at 3:27 pm

  19. The Seafood Academy mentioned here has moved to East Pointe Plaza (7501 Garners Ferry Road) in a space that was originally CVS...


    13 Nov 17 at 1:56 pm

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