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Lake Murray Columbia, Feb 2012

Lake Murray Columbia, Feb 2012

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Published by The State Newspaper
Volume 16, number 12. Special edition: The Tastemakers - Who's Who on the Food Scene.
Volume 16, number 12. Special edition: The Tastemakers - Who's Who on the Food Scene.

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Published by: The State Newspaper on Jan 24, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Complete. Cardiac. Care.

Coming to Lexington Medical Center

Spring 2012


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

Learn More at LexMed.com



How many icons of taste do you recognize?
Top row, from left: Piggie Park, Sandy’s Hot Dogs, Benny Clark, Zesto, Ricky Mollohan Second row, from left: Sammi’s Deli, Michelle Wang Bottom row, from left: Lizard’s Thicket, Inakaya, Don Alcorn, Tronco’s Catering, Groucho’s Deli

The Tastemakers
Bobby Williams Michelle Wang Gus Manos Lloyd Bessinger Harold Miller Ricky Mollohan Jimmy Senn Kazuhiro Sato 12 16 18 20 24 26 30 32 Robin Hudson Don Alcorn Bud Sanderson Hassan Addahoumi Benny Clark David Martin More tastemakers 34 36 38 40 41 42 44
{ AL SO I NSIDE} CALENDAR 6 PAST TENSE 46 PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS 47 BUY PHOTOS: See more photos from our stories and purchase photos published in this issue; order online at thestate.com/lakemurray. ONLINE: See this edition of Lake Murray and Northeast magazines and browse through previous editions at thestate. com/magazines.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012



Betsey Guzior, (803) 771-8441 bguzior@thestate.com
Art dirEctor

Susan Ardis, (803) 771-8595 sardis@thestate.com
AdvErtising sAlEs MAnAgEr

Lauren Libet, (803) 771-8372 llibet@thestate.com
subscribEr sErvicE

Cynthia Burns, (803) 771-8321
stAff WritErs

Betsey Guzior, Joey Holleman, Diane Morrison, Susan Ardis, Carolyn Click, Tim Flach, Dawn Hinshaw, Mindy Lucas, Rick Millians, Noelle Phillips, Bertram Rantin, Kristy Eppley Rupon, Andrew Shain, Mark E. Lett
contributing WritErs

Monday - Friday 10 - 5:30

Deena Bouknight
stAff PhotogrAPhErs

Kim Kim Foster-Tobin, Gerry Melendez, Tim Dominick, C. Aluka Berry


• The State Media Co.
Henry B. Haitz III, President & Publisher Mark E. Lett, Vice President Executive Editor Bernie Heller, Vice President Advertising

sponsored by sponsored by


February 2012
Lake Murray-Columbia® and Northeast Columbia® are published 12 times a year. The mail subscription rate is $48. The contents are fully protected by copyright. Lake Murray-Columbia® and Northeast Columbia are wholly owned by The State Media Co.

• Send a story idea or calendar item to:
Lake Murray/Northeast magazines P.O. Box 1333 Columbia, SC 29202 Fax: (803) 771-8430 Attention: Betsey Guzior or lakemurray@thestate.com

C oC o ok i ng oki ng E ntErtainmEnt E ntErtainmEnt S hopp ing ng S hop p i F aSh ion • F u F u n F aSh ion • n
February 10-12 February 10-12
Columbia Metropolitan Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center Convention Center

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Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 5


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


{ performing arts }
Through Feb. 4: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Town Theatre, (803) 799-2510 Through Feb. 4: Amazons and Their Men, Trustus Theatre, (803) 254-9732 Feb. 2: Ain’t Misbehavin’, Newberry Opera House, (803) 2766264 Feb. 2-3: The Little Mermaid, Columbia City Ballet, Koger Center, (803) 251-6333 Feb. 3: Hotel California, A Salute to the Eagles, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264 Feb. 3: Mixed Music Tour featuring Keith Sweat; Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 3, 4: Romeo & Juliet, Columbia City Ballet, Koger Center, (803) 251-6333 Feb. 7: USC Gospel Choir Spring Concert, USC School of Music, (803) 777-4280 Feb. 8: The Temptations, Newberry Opera House, (803) 2766264 Feb. 9: Tyler Perry’s The Haves and The Have Nots, Township Auditorium, (803) 576-2350 Feb. 10-March 3: Gem of the Ocean, Trustus Theatre, (803) 254-9732 Feb. 10-12: Mostly Mozart and Friends, Carolina Ballet, CMFA Art Space, (803) 771-6303 Feb. 10-19: Pinkalicious The Musical, Columbia Children’s Theatre, (803) 691-4548 Feb. 11: Abbey Simon, Newberry Opera House, (803) 2766264 Feb. 11: Love Stories, South Carolina Philharmonic, Koger Center, (803) 251-6333 Feb. 12: South Carolina Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Koger Center, (803) 251-6333 Feb. 12: Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264 Feb. 14: USC Symphony Orchestra, Koger Center, (803) 2516333 Feb. 14: Brigadoon, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264 Feb. 17: Columbia Blues Festival, Township Auditorium, (803) 576-2350 Feb. 17: Palmetto Mastersingers, Festival of Choirs, First Baptist Church, www.palmettomastersingers.org Feb. 17: Ray Price, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264 Feb. 17-March 4: The King and I, Village Square Theatre, (803) 359-1436 Feb. 17-25: Present Laughter, Drayton Hall, (803) 777-4288

On Lake Murray, there isn’t a single real estate agent providing the finest service.

There are two!

Bodies in motion. Dance Theatre of Harlem performs at Township
Auditorium Feb. 23.

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012



Feb. 23: Dance Theatre of Harlem, Township Auditorium, (803) 576-2350 Feb. 24: Disney Live! Phineas and Ferb, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 24: Columbia Community Concert Band, White Knoll High School, (803) 821-5200 Feb. 24: Auntie Karen Foundation Presents Ramsey Lewis and Patti Austin, Koger Center, (803) 251-6333

Feb. 18: The Four Freshman, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264 Feb. 19: Arlo Guthrie, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264 Feb. 19: The Joy of Dance Concert, Harbison Theater, Midlands Technical College, (803) 400-3540 Feb. 21: Drake, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200

Feb. 25: James Gregory, Funniest Man in America, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264 Feb. 26: Celtic Woman, Koger Center, (803) 777-5112 Feb. 27-28: South Carolina Philharmonic Young People’s Jazz Band, Koger Center, (803) 251-6333 Feb. 29: Burlesque to Broadway, Newberry Opera House, (803) 276-6264

Beguiling. Celtic Woman will be at Koger Center Feb. 26


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ museums & art }
Through April 1: Nature and the Grand American Vision: Masterpieces of the Hudson River School Painters, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 799-2810 Through April 15: Body Worlds Vital, State Museum, (803) 898-4921 Through April 29: The Great Charleston Earthquake, 1886: State Museum, (803) 898-4921 Through May 1: The Civil War in South Carolina: Soldiers of The Palmetto State, 1861-1865, State Museum, (803) 8984921 Through May 6: Tangible History: South Carolina Stoneware from the Holcombe Family Collection, State Museum, (803) 898-4921 Through May 30: Religion in the Civil War, State Museum, (803) 898-4921 Through May 31: Through Fiery Trials: Religion in the Civil War, SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, (803) 737-8095

Through Sept. 29: Bold Banners: Early Civil War Flags of South Carolina, SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, (803) 737-8095 Feb. 1: Wee Wednesday, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155 Feb. 2: American Visions: The Republic of Virtue, Episode 7, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155 Feb. 3: Arts & Draughts, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155 Feb. 4: FIT Together – Kick Boxing, EdVenture, (803) 779-3100 Feb. 5: 4th REEL Black Pix: Global Afrikan Film Series, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155 Feb. 9-14: Arcade Art: Beth West, Jan Swanson, Page Morris and Suzy Shealy, Gallery 80808, (803) 360-6794 Feb. 10: Artists Salon Gallery Talk, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 3432155 Feb. 10, 12: French Performances: Le commissaire est bon enfant and Les Boulingrin, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155

Feb. 12: American Visions, The Republic of Virture, Episode 8, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155 Feb. 12: Family Gallery Tour, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155 Feb. 14: Family Night, EdVenture, (803) 779-3100 Feb. 14, 21, 28: Toddler Tuesday, EdVenture, (803) 779-3100 Feb. 16: Wadsworth Chamber Music Series, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 799-2810 Feb. 16: Curator’s Choice Lecture Series, McKissick Museum, (803) 7777251 Feb. 17: Artists Salon Series, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155 Feb. 21: Morihiko on the Hudson, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 7992810 Feb. 23, 26: Tales for Tots, EdVenture, (803) 779-3100 Feb. 26: Carolina Stories: A True Likeness, Columbia Museum of Art, (803) 343-2155

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Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


Roar of Thunder. Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder perform at Newberry Opera House Feb. 12.

{ sports }
Feb. 4: USC Men’s Basketball vs. Kentucky, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 12: USC Women’s Basketball vs. Florida, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 15: USC Men’s Basketball vs. Georgia, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 16: USC Women’s Basketball vs. Georgia, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 18: USC Men’s Basketball vs. LSU, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 18: Third Annual Make My Day 12K, Harbison State Forest, (803) 929-0771 Feb. 25: USC Men’s Basketball vs. Tennessee, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 26: USC Women’s Basketball vs. Arkansas, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 29: USC Men’s Basketball vs. Mississippi State, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200

Feb. 7: Woodrow Wilson Family Home: Hard Hat Tour, Historic Columbia Foundation, (803) 252-7742 Feb. 7, 14, 21: Early Columbia Lecture Series: Part I, Columbia 1600-1850, Historic Columbia Foundation, (803) 252-7742 Feb. 8: Tour and Cocktails, Woodrow Wilson Family Home and the Lorick House, (803) 252-7742 Feb. 10, 17: Owl Prowl, Congaree National Park, (803) 776-4396 Feb. 10: City Strolls, Robert Mills Historic District, (803) 2521770, ext. 24 Feb. 10, 11: Monster Jam, Colonial Life Arena, (803) 576-9200 Feb. 11: Cupid’s Chase 5K Run/Walk, Finlay Park, (803) 545-3100 Feb. 12: Second Sunday Stroll: Lower Waverly, Historic Columbia Foundation, (803) 252-7742 Feb. 16: Garden Tour, Robert Mills House Founders Garden, Historic Columbia Foundation, (803) 252-7742 Feb. 18: Great Backyard Bird Count, Congaree National Park, (803) 776-4396 Feb. 18: 22nd Annual Midlands Heart Ball, Township Auditorium, (803) 806-3091 Feb. 18: 2nd Annual Krewe de Columbi-Ya Ya Mardi Gras Festival and Parade, City Roots, (803) 254-2302 Feb. 19: Miss Black South Carolina Pageant, Benedict College, (803) 256-4220 Feb. 19: Dollar Sunday, Robert Mills House and Gardens, (803) 252-1770, ext. 24 Feb. 19: W. Gordon Belser Arboretum Open House, (803) 777-3934 Feb. 19: Women of Hampton-Preston Tour, Historic Columbia Foundation, (803) 252-7742 Feb. 22: Mann-Simons Site Tour: Uncovering the Past, Historic Columbia Foundation, (803) 252-7742 — Compiled by Diane Morrison

{ special events }
Feb. 2: Impact Wrestling World Tour, Township Auditorium, (803) 576-2350 Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24: Free Fridays, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, (803) 779-8717 Feb. 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29: All-Local Farmers Market, stateplate.org Feb. 4: Clean Sweep, State Fairgrounds, (803) 252-4552 Feb. 4: 14th Annual Columbia Antique Toy, Comic and Collectible Convention, Jamil Temple, (803) 358-0444


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


hey are behind the counter, in the kitchen, working the line, refining the menu, hauling the produce and working the room. Most of all, they are putting the Midlands on the culinary map. They are

From appetizers to desserts, the Midlands is tastier than ever because of the men and women who run the businesses that feed us in restaurants, diners, fast-food chains and barbecue joints. In this special edition of Lake Murray and Northeast magazine, they share their passions and their stories.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


{ tastemaker }

The Thicket
Bobby Williams on serving Southern food to Southerners


sk for a meat-and-three restaurant in the Columbia area and most folks will quickly suggest Lizard’s Thicket. For nearly 35 years, the restaurants have served Southern comfort food staples with menus up on the wall. The Thicket’s most popular items are fried chicken, fried flounder, macaroni and cheese, green beans and mashed potatoes, said Bobby Williams, chairman of the 14-restaurant chain that his late father founded. The restaurant business that opened its first location in a converted Broad River Road home now employs 650 people and generates about $30 million in annual sales. Williams spoke about how business has changed – and how Lizard’s Thicket has become a frequent political-campaign stop with visits by Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich in recent years. Has the economy affected your restaurants? We opened two in the last two years (in Blythewood and Lexington), and they’re doing well. We’ve had a surge in business. I know the economy hadn’t gotten better. Gasoline prices coming down has helped. People are looking for a better value right now, and we still give a plate full of food. We just raised prices in October for the first time in three years. (Meal prices rose to $7.49 from $6.89, and drink prices increased by 20 cents.) We hate to go up, but food prices have just gone through the roof. Everyone who goes to the grocery store knows that. Since we raised prices, business has been terrific. And I think we’re doing a better job.

What are you doing better? For a while, we got so busy we started cooking in big pots. And so we really concentrated on getting back to cooking everything in small batches and keeping the food fresh all day long, which is the way we started. How did you start selling Southern food to Southerners? The way it all started in the late ’70s, women started going back to work and didn’t have time to cook anymore. My father called it ‘home meal replacement.’ We replaced a lot of peoples’ kitchen tables. What’s changed over the years? Irmo is our busiest restaurant but Spring Valley is catching it fast. Thanksgiving used to be the slowest time of the year. Now we have turned into something. The day before, we sell so much food to go, it’s incredible. Some people will bring their own pans in, and we’ll put the dressing in. How have you stayed strong in a business with so much turnover? We’ve changed with the times. We’re trying to appeal to a younger generation now. We have got one person who does social networking for us. We know the food’s got to be healthier. I always felt like people wanted to eat healthy food, but they just don’t want to be seen eating healthy food. We cut back on salt. We buy more fresh vegetables than ever. And we try to buy everything we can locally. We buy fresh collard greens, we used

Service with a smile. Lizard's Thicket
general manager Robert Williams shares a laugh with customers Wil Sligh, left, and James Davis at the Beltline location. Williams has been serving Davis since he was 13 years old.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

Lizard's Thicket

Corporate Office: 1036 Market St., Columbia, (803) 799-5016 lizardsthicket.com 15 locations in the Midlands: 711-1 University Village Drive, Blythewood, (803) 451-8400 10170 Two Notch Road, Columbia, (803) 419-5662 7620 Two Notch Road, Columbia, (803) 788-3088 3147 Forest Drive, Columbia, (803) 787-8781 818 Elmwood Ave., Columbia, (803) 779-6407 7938 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, (803) 647-0095 402 Beltline Blvd., Columbia, (803) 738-0006 2240 Airport Blvd., West Columbia, (803) 796-7820 501 Knox Abbott Drive, Cayce, (803) 791-0314 2234 Sunset Blvd., West Columbia, (803) 794-0923 1824 Broad River Road, Columbia, (803) 798-6427 7569 St. Andrews Road, Irmo, (803) 732-1225 621 W. Main St., Lexington, (803) 951-3555 4610 Augusta Road, Lexington, (803) 785-5560
Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 13

Family affair. Lizard's Thicket owner Bobby Williams, right, and his son Robert Williams are pictured at their Beltline location.


frozen greens forever. We use fresh squash every day. What do you think about your restaurants becoming a stop for political campaigns? Why do you think candidates come to Lizard’s Thicket? It’s fun, because I’m involved in the National Restaurant Association, and we have members all over the country so when they see it on the national news, they all call me and rag me. We get mentions all the time. I just think we’re just down home. We feed so many different people, working people and just everybody. I thinks it brings (candidates) back to their roots and basics. How has the Thicket developed ties in the community? We go to a lot of funerals. We give people food. We don’t charge because it’s the right thing to do. Anytime something happens in the community, we would like to be there to help. The sheriffs know they can call us. We’re really part of Columbia. People know what to expect when they come here. A lot of people never look at the menu. They know what they want. It’s a comfort zone for people. Story by Andrew Shain • Photography by C. Aluka Berry

Southern comfort. Macaroni and cheese is one of the popular side
dishes at Lizard's Thicket.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

Purchase now at GoGamecocks.com!

Gamecock 11 Win Season Commemorative Book

A portion of the proceeds from this issue go to benefit Palmetto Health Cancer Centers in conjunction with the Palmetto Health Foundation McDaniels Golf Classic in partnership with Coach Steve Spurrier.
Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 15

{ tastemaker }

Tiger lady. Michelle Wang, pictured at M Vista, has built a solid foundation in the community through hard work.

miyos.com 922 South Main St., Columbia, (803) 779-6496 Village at Sandhill, 715 Fashion Drive, (803) 788-8878 3250 Forest Drive, Columbia, (803) 743-9996 1220 E-2 Bower Parkway, Columbia, (803) 781-7788 5594 Sunset Blvd., Lexington, (803) 957-9888



Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

Michelle Wang’s hard work pays off at Miyo’s
ichelle Wang arrived in Columbia in the mid-1990s with lots of ambition and more than a little uncertainty about her future. That indecision ended when Wang opened her first restaurant, Miyo’s on Main in 1996, betting that Columbia would embrace delicious Asian food, fresh ingredients and gracious atmosphere. Since then, Wang (pronounced Wong) has opened six more restaurants, each bearing the distinctive “M” in the title (for mountain) and all offering something a little different. She began with regional cooking from her native Shanghai and Szechuan cuisine, eventually evolving to include northern and southern Chinese cuisine, Korean style BBQ, Vietnamese- and Thaiinfluenced dishes and Japanese sushi. Even during the recession, Wang took risks to open new restaurants, seeing that as a way to boost the local economy. She and her husband and business partner, Rui Cao, are raising three sons, 15-yearold Franklin from her first marriage, 7-year-old Benjamin; and 6-year-old Raymond in an atmosphere of fragrant spices and hard work. You began in Columbia with the intention of creating great Asian food with fresh ingredients. Do you think you’ve accomplished your mission? I need to keep on going. We are opening M.Fresh at 1237 Washington St. later this year. We are going to bring on green tea, fresh smoothies, dark and green leaf vegetables, organic meats. A lot of customers consider us a healthy restaurant, but there is still sesame chicken and sweet and sour chicken (which are higher in calories and fat). We want to educate customers on what to eat. Healthy ingredients can be delicious as well so we want to increase people’s food intelligence. Will M.Fresh be like your other restaurants? It will be very different. They can go to


a counter, place their order and pick it up at the end. I want to create a healthy concept. Once people eat fresh and healthy, people won’t go back. I think I have more energy because I eat well and I drink a lot of green tea. I want to introduce green tea to people. Ninetyfive percent of Americans start out with coffee, and coffee, to me, has a lot of ingredients that bring you up and down. Green tea has so many antioxidants. After all these years, does Columbia feel like home? I do like Columbia. It’s two hours from the beach and two hours from the mountains. I go back to China about every three months to see my parents. How many hours do you work each week? I never count. I get up and leave the house about 9:30 a.m. and sometimes I don’t come home until 12:30 (at night). My husband is very good about picking up my kids. All my kids play violin. I am a tiger mom; I’m not extreme, though. I told my kids an hour and a half a day is required. I’m their best audience. I tell them if you do something seriously, don’t do it halfway. I want them to learn a work ethic – I want them to learn everything that comes from smart work and hard work. Story by Carolyn Click Photography by Gerry Melendez

M Cafe

1417 Sumter St. Columbia, (803) 779-5788

M Vista

701 Lady St., Columbia, (803) 255-8878

M Fresh (coming soon)

1237 Washington St., Columbia

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012



Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ tastemaker }


How Gus Manos is living (and feeding) the American dream


ix days a week, Gus Manos, 73, arrives at 6:30 a.m. at Zesto of West Columbia. He has been doing the same thing for over 50 years. His only child, Pete, is his partner in owning the restaurant that is famous for its fried chicken, giant ice cream cone in front and triangle shape. His wife, Sherry, also works at Zesto. They have been married for 47 years. “She’s been here since Day One, too,” Manos says. Manos says he knows 90 percent of his customers on a firstname basis. They call him Gus. “It was just a little place when I bought it,” Manos said. “It was a 20-by-20 room, and we sold only ice cream and hot dogs. We are like a child. We have grown step by step.” Today, Zesto owns 80 percent of the block, has over 6,000 square feet and employs over 50 people. Away from the restaurant, Manos is a USC Gamecocks fan and has served on the Springdale Town Council for 37 years. He was recently re-elected to a four-year term. “Yes,” Manos says, his eyes filling with tears. “I am living the American dream.” How did you wind up in Columbia? I came to the United States from Greece by myself when I was 12. I came after World War II when Europe was a disaster. I was born near Sparta, Greece. I arrived in New York City, and I didn’t know a word of English. I came to Columbia because an uncle was married to a woman from here. I took the train. I went to Columbia High and played football – both ways on the line, first string on defense and second string on offense. I became an American citizen in high school. I served in the Army after high school. I was proud to serve for my country. What has been the key to your success? The three Qs – quality product, quality service and quality employees. There is no limit to the number of hours you have to put in to be a success. My first 25 years here, I worked 60-90 hours a week. I didn’t take a vacation for the first 15-20 years. We built this business from scratch with good people. No one else ever outworks us. I don’t consider anybody else my main competition. Are we perfect? No. But day in and day out, we consider our service to be above anybody else. Serve the best and it takes care of everything. Who are your customers? We have the best customers. Once we get them in the door, nobody takes them away. Our menu evolves as we get a feel for what out customers want. We know what will sell and what won’t. As we grew, we added to our ice cream and hot dogs. We added things like hamburgers, chicken and BBQ. Every day is a busy day. Our customers only have a limited time for lunch. Our

Choreographed chaos. Manos oversees a chorus line of cooks and
servers to feed his customers.

lobby might be packed, but people know they won’t have to wait long. The waiting time is usually 3-5 minutes. We’re consistent. Consistency is the word we use when training all of our people. What’s the secret to your fried chicken? We are very particular in the way we prepare it. We know our business. It is consistent so we know how much chicken to prepare. It’s always hot and fresh. Our chicken is broasted (cooked under pressure) and cooked in peanut oil. Everything has been cooked in peanut oil since we’ve been in business. We never change anything – even when the cost of peanut oil went way up. The taste it gives our chicken is what brings people here. They expect it. How did your giant ice cream cone in front get started? We put it up in 1982. People recognize us for it. We took it down about four years ago and sent it to be refurbished. It was painted, and we had everything checked out. During that time, people were upset about it missing. They would come in and ask about the cone. We insured it for close to $100,000 when it was transported. Story by Rick Millians • Photography by Tim Dominick


zestowestcolumbia.com 504 12th St., West Columbia, (803) 794-4652

Full of life. Zesto owner Gus Manos, 73, whose restaurant specializes in fried chicken and hamburgers and is known for the big ice cream cone in front,
is in the restaurant six days a week. He frequently stops to talk with longtime customers.

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


{ tastemaker }


A new generation carries on BBQ traditions


loyd Bessinger is not tempted to shake things up. As the relatively new president of the venerable Maurice’s Piggie Park restaurants, Bessinger could declare that a new generation is embarking on a new way of doing things. Not likely. Not on Lloyd’s watch. “We still cook over hickory wood, the same way we always have,” says Bessinger, who runs the family business with his brother, Paul, and his sister, Debbie Bennett. “That’s been our slogan, and we certainly would never change. We think it gives us an edge – a difference.” If you’ve been in the Midlands more than, say, an hour, you’re likely aware of Maurice’s barbecue and 81-year-old Maurice, whose down-home advertising made him a familiar face and voice. You didn’t have to watch TV or listen to radio for long to encounter the white-haired, white-suited Maurice proclaiming that the restaurants he founded a half-century ago still cook the “OLD FASHIONED” way and serve his time-tested “gourmet, Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce.” What you may not know is that Maurice, who started the business more than 55 years ago, is pretty much retired to his farm in St. Matthews. Lloyd, 57, became president more than a year ago, expanding a career in the family business that began when he was “12 or 13 working weekends making fries, barbecue sandwiches and hamburgers.” As is typical in a family-owned food business, Lloyd spends most of his time at work, usually at the Piggie Park headquarters on Charleston Highway. From there, the company prepares the food sold at its 15 locations by some 175 employees as well as the food and sauces shipped as part of the company’s “Flying Pig” mail order and online business. A mustard-based sauce puts some zing in Maurice’s barbecue, but the real heat comes from hickory wood in the pit: an average two cords daily, and 728 cords annually. Lloyd, a graduate of Airport High School and Midlands Tech, discussed the family business with us over a lunch he

’Cue Kings. Lloyd, left, and Paul Bessinger, along with their sister, Debbie operate Piggie Park
Enterprises with 15 restaurants in the Midlands. At right, Paul pulls chicken halves from the smokers at Maurice's Piggie Park on Charleston Highway.

described as his “favorite”: BBQ pork, coleslaw, hash and rice, hush puppies and a roll. OK. How can you work in a restaurant all day and not get fat? My wife always tells me I need to lose weight, so I’m not sure I’d say I am that slim. I do sample a little bit every day of what we make. You have to take care to know your product. What about the sauce? It’s advertised as “heirloom secret sauce” and it’s pretty much mustard based. What do you have against a tomato-based or vinegar-based sauce? I would never eat that. My father grew up

in Holly Hill where his father taught him how to make yellow sauce. We’ve kept to that same recipe. Ketchup is sweet. I like barbecue sauce with a little kick to it, a little spicy. Not everybody feels that way, and that’s OK. That’s America. If you can’t eat barbecue, what do you like to eat? My wife is a fan of lasagna and spaghetti. Occasionally, we will grill out. Do you barbecue at home? I don’t have a pit at home. Generally, you don’t want to take your work home with you all the time.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


Flying pig. Lloyd, left, and Paul Bessinger fill holiday orders for barbecued turkeys and hams.


Maurice's Barbecue
mauricesbbq.com 1600 Charleston Hwy., West Columbia (803) 796-0220 800 Elmwood Ave., Columbia, (803) 256-4377 4411 Devine St., Columbia, (803) 782-9547 252 O'Neil Court, Columbia, (803) 865-0608 622 St. Andrews Road., Columbia, (803) 772-6999 1141 Lake Murray Blvd., Irmo, (803) 732-5555 766 W. Main St., Lexington, (803) 359-8789 2450 Augusta Road, Lexington, (803) 796-4777 9563 Two Notch Road, Columbia, (803) 462-0882 1586 John C. Calhoun Drive, Orangeburg, (803) 516-8771 263 Britian St., Santee, (803) 854-3889 2515 Sunset Blvd., West Columbia, (803) 791-5053 1010 South Lake Drive, Lexington, (803) 356-1909 107 Clemson Road, Columbia, (803) 788-5661
to be – as long as we do our job right. The recession has affected our business like everybody else. Like everybody else, we are waiting for the economy to pick up and for people’s spending habits to pick back up. Story by Mark E. Lett • Photography by Tim Dominick

Your company has survived more than a half-century, even as the restaurant business has seen phenomenal growth of franchised restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King and others. How do you compete with the big boys like that? You know, we are just local people in the neighborhood. You’ve got to have your own niche, be different enough to compete. The national companies have ad dollars galore. We have to do the things they can’t do, whether it’s food, service or a combination of things. We’re small enough that we can spend time with our customers, listen to our customers. The national guys have to be in the box, and we can be outside the box, doing what we do our way. I didn’t realize you do all the cooking right here in West Columbia and then send the food out to your restaurants. Why do it that way? We have found that’s the best way to control quality. You can have 15 cooks at 15 different places or you can have two or three cooks at a single pit here. Cooking barbecue the right way takes time. We cook pork for more than 18 hours, for example, to get it just right. You have to watch it closely, constantly. That’s what makes the difference. Barbecue has been popular for a long time, but do you see the day when it fades? Barbecue is such a big thing for the South, and it will continue


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

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Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 23


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ tastemaker }

A delicious legacy
Bruce Miller keeps Groucho’s hoppin’


f it hadn’t been for a spooked horse, the Apollo Dipper might be giving the Philly cheese steak a run for its money. Instead, it’s a uniquely Columbia sandwich that is beginning to spread throughout the Southeast as Groucho’s Deli grows by two or three stores every year. The restaurant that serves the warm meat and cheese dipping sandwich – along with a variety of others – opened in the Capital City in 1939 as Miller’s Deli when Harold Miller moved to Columbia from Philadelphia. Miller, a Russian immigrant who lived part time in an orphanage as a child after his father died, started running a milk truck in the City of Brotherly Love in his 30s. A few years later, when one of the horses that pulled it got spooked and kicked the cart into his ribs, the family thought the warmer weather in Columbia – where his brother-in-law owned land – might help his condition. So Miller, with his thick black eyebrows and mustache, moved his wife and kids South and opened his deli on Main Street across from Jefferson Square theater. Soon after, he changed the name of the deli to Groucho’s, a nod to the famous actor of that time who he resembled. “He looked just like Groucho Marx,” said Bruce Miller, 42, the third-generation owner of the deli, which has been in its current spot on Harden Street since the 1960s. Bruce Miller, who was as 4 when his grandfather died and became partners in the business with his dad in 1995, has been responsible for franchising the popular Columbia eatery since 2000. In 12 years, the restaurant has grown to 25 locations. Here, he talks shop: Your father, Ivan, died about a decade ago. What was his biggest contribution to the business? In the 1960s, my dad came up with the dipper type sandwiches, and it became more of a restaurant (as opposed to deli). … The menu, the way it is today is pretty much his legacy. Do you eat at Groucho’s every day? What is your favorite meal there? Every day. No matter what I eat or what I do, I always come back to the STP as my favorite sandwich. Roast beef, turkey, swiss cheese, bacon bits, pickle chips and 45 sauce. I can’t get enough of it. Running a restaurant takes a lot of time. What do you do when you are not working? We like to, as a family, go out to our property at Lake Monticello and go fishing and ride four-wheelers. That’s a lot of fun. There’s no people asking you for recipes or somebody claiming to be a cousin and trying to get a free sandwich.


grouchos.com 611 Harden St., Columbia, (803) 799-5708 Columbia Metropolitan Airport, 3008-C Aviation Way 111 Sparkleberry Crossing, Suite 8, (803) 419-6767 4717 Forest Drive, Forest Acres, (803) 790-0801 730 University Village Drive, Blythewood, (803) 754-4509 800 Lake Murray Blvd., Irmo, (803) 749-4515 117 1/2 East Main St., Lexington, (803) 356-8800 2265 Sunset Blvd., West Columbia, (803) 796-7826

Do people ask you for recipes a lot? All the time we’re getting the 45 sauce, slaw and potato salad recipe questions. We prefer to ship the final product to them. We ship sauce all over the country. We’ve even shipped as far away as Iraq. What kind of community organizations do you support? Cancer is huge with us. Every Miller man has died from cancer. We’ll see about that. Story by Kristy Eppley Rupon Photography by Kim Kim Foster-Tobin

Big dipper. The walls of the headquarters of the Groucho's Deli franchise (located in the original store on Harden St.) are decorated with articles, old photographs, promotional items and the family's history. Bruce's grandfather, Harold Miller, came to Columbia in 1938 where the family deli business was born.

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


{ tastemaker }

Ricky Mollohan has a

Man with a plan. Ricky Mollohan owns Cellar on Greene, Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe and Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

a taste for challenges T
alking with Ricky Mollohan, owner of Solstice Kitchen in Northeast Richland and Mr. Friendly’s and Cellar on Greene in Five Points. What is your first food memory? Watching my mom make fried corn tortillas for homemade tacos. Growing up in San Diego and then El Paso, there was a lot of Mexican food. Best meal I ever ate: Was at Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant Daniel, in New York City. I’ve been a few times, and it’s close to perfect — over the top. If money were no object, I’d like to cook with: more raw fish in a Japanese style or an Italian crudo (raw fish dressed with oil, salt and some seasoning); or bring in different flavors such as squab, guinea hen or more duck. Richer flavors. People in this area only eat out once or twice a week and want a sense of familiarity. They don’t really want to gamble with food. They’re willing to try, but not for a lot of money. How are different aspects of your personality reflected in your restaurants? Mr. Friendly’s is the mid-level, midstress (for me) restaurant; Solstice is the more inspired, polished venue. Solstice creates more stress because there’s a higher level of creativity there. Cellar is the hangout. The place to drop in when you don’t have plans, to get either a snack or dinner. Cellar is food that’s fresh and quick, to keep you happy for less money. Owning three restaurants, how much time do you actually get to spend in your kitchens? Not as much as I’d like. Spend most of the time in Cellar, planning specials at Solstice and Cellar. It’s more coming up with ideas and pairings and designing the menu for my chefs to execute. The chefs understand the flavors and styles of the restaurants.

Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar

solsticekitchen.com 841-4 Sparkleberry Lane, (803) 788-6966

Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe

mrfriendlys.com 2001-A Greene St., (803) 254-7828

Cellar on Greene

cellarongreene.com 2001-D Greene St., (803) 343-3303

What do you do to relax? Try and spend time with wife and dogs. I can’t really relax unless I’m out of town. We’ll usually go somewhere for three or four days where it’s centered around eating. If I’m in town, I’m always wondering what’s happening at the restaurants. When you do take a break where do you go and what’s your dream destination? Vegas. It’s the guy thing for me. Sensory overload. Or New York. There’s a lot to do that keeps my mind off the business. Italy is my dream. My hidden talent is ... getting the best out of people, managing the different personalities. (laugh) I want folks to live in fear of me but to do right because it’s the right thing to do. What’s next for you and your business? Four or five years from now, I’d like to be able to scale back ... to one place, eventually. Right now I have two restaurants that don’t have enough space and one that has too much. I’d like to find that perfect space and spend more time in that kitchen. Owning three restaurants is a challenge, but it’s exhausting. Story by Susan Ardis • Photography by Kim Kim Foster-Tobin

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012



Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


{ tastemaker }

From the ground, up. Even though his father was one of the owners of the family produce business, Jimmy Senn started out loading trucks. He still
spends some of his work day in the warehouse, pitching in on a forklift at a company that trucks produce to stores, schools and military bases.

Fresh from the farm

How Jimmy Senn grew into his family business


enn Brothers Produce, founded in 1946, is one of the local food industry players that flies below the public’s radar. From its warehouse at the State Farmers Market, Senn Brothers receives produce from farms and provides it for stores, schools and military bases. Jimmy Senn, 64, is the president of a company that employs about 60 people and helps feed thousands. When did you get started with Senn Brothers? When I got out of college (at The Citadel) in 1969. I started loading and unloading trucks. They had a strict rule that you started at the bottom. My daddy was one of five brothers who started the company. There were six brothers working for it at one time. Now it’s

me, my brother and one other person (running the business). After eight or 10 years of moving up a little bit at a time, I got a little cut in the business. It took me a little while to get going. That’s the way it should be. Most of the truck traffic is early in the morning, getting fresh produce out early in the day. What’s your daily schedule like? I’m usually here at 4 (a.m.), sometimes 3 (a.m.). We are kind of hands-on in our company. Instead of being like the bosses (staying in an office), we’re out there in the warehouse. Senn Brothers, founded in 1946, was a fixture in the old State Farmers Market on Bluff Road. How has the move to the new market worked out?

Honestly, to start with I was a little leery. But our business has picked up about 1520 percent. It’s given us the opportunity to get contracts with schools and the military we couldn’t get before. Our old warehouse wouldn’t pass the strict inspection standards. What do you do for fun? I’ve got a house on Lake Murray that we spend the summer in. I like boating and fishing and messing around with our grandkids. And at our home (in West Columbia), we raise chickens and goats, but not produce. Story by Joey Holleman Photography by Tim Dominick


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

Be patronizing.
Our advertisers are the best folks around. We encourage you to give them your business if their products or services fill a need for you. Thank you for your readership and patronage.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 31

Authenticity is key. Kazuhiro Sato owns two traditional Japanese restaurants named Inakaya and Tsubaki, a Japanese-style karaoke lounge.

Why Inakaya’s Kazuhiro Sato aims for authenticity

Japanese style


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ tastemaker }
That’s because Sato trained as a French chef in Tokyo before taking up an invitation from a friend to help at a new Hibachi restaurant in Columbia. Sato started as a dishwasher because he couldn’t speak English. Five years after arriving in Columbia, he opened Sato Japanese Steakhouse on North Beltline Boulevard. He sold that restaurant several years ago. Since then, Sato and his Inakaya restaurants have earned a reputation as the Midlands’ most authentic Japanese establishments. He works seven days a week at the O’Neil Court restaurants. With three restaurants to manage, how much time do you actually spend in the kitchen? I make sushi at Inakaya for lunch and dinner. After that, I go next door and cook until 2 o’clock in the morning. I work seven days a week. After cooking so much at your restaurants, do you spend any time in the kitchen at home? Yes, I cook everything –– Japanese, French, Inakaya Chinese, Italian. I 655 St. Andrews Road, Columbia, love to cook pastries, (803) 731-2538 too. I do them for special occasions 224-9 O'Neil Court, Columbia, like Thanksgiving, (803) 699-2626 Christmas, my children’s birthdays. I Tsubaki like the challenge for a cook. 224-10 O'Neil Court, Columbia, What feature are (803) 736-7474 you most proud of in your Inakaya restaurants? I had Japanese carpenters do everything in Japanese style. I have a tatami room and the carpenters made the doors and screens. My father made the wood carvings. I had them shipped over. It was expensive. There are a lot of Japanese people here. They miss Japan so I try to make it look Japanese style. What do inakaya and tsubaki mean in Japanese? Inakaya means country house. I’m from the country. Tsubaki is flower. Do you ever karaoke at your restaurant? I can cook, but I cannot sing. Just a little bit with Japanese songs. I sing when nobody is there. Story by Noelle Phillips • Photography by Kim Kim Foster-Tobin


azuhiro Sato came to Columbia from Japan as a 21-year-old whose English-speaking skills were limited to “thank you” and “Coca-Cola.” Today, Sato, 54, owns three Japanese restaurants in Columbia and a fourth bears his name, even though he sold it several years ago. His Inakaya restaurants on St. Andrews Road and at O’Neil Court feature sushi, Japanese noodle dishes and other specials such as donburi, which is broiled eel on a bed of rice with a special sauce. Tsubaki, which is next door to the O’Neil Court restaurant, is a Japanese-style karaoke lounge with a menu that has a French influence.

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012



Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ tastemaker }


Father and sons serve barbecue with occasional sides of politicians


udson’s Smokehouse in Lexington is a mainstay for politicians seeking votes in the Midlands as well as a popular spot for barbecue locally. That’s an accomplishment since barbecue is as big a source of debate as politics in the Palmetto State. The menu developed from the experience gained by owner Robin Hudson in cooking for family, friends and civic groups. It’s a seven year-old operation he runs with sons Clay and Clint. The restaurant is known for its promise to put “the taste of the South in your mouth.” Hudson opened a second outlet in Red Bank, plans to expand into Irmo and added catering to the restaurant’s repertoire. Here’s a snapshot of his approach to running it and what he regards as good eats: Who taught you how to grill? It’s a combination of trial and error, cookbooks and the Boy Scouts. How did you develop your sauces? Family recipes.

Hudson's Smokehouse BBQ
hudsonsbbqsauce.com 4952 Sunset Blvd., Lexington, (803) 356-1070 931 Old Two Notch Road, Lexington, (803) 356-1070

What’s your favorite meat for cookouts? Stuffed pork loin or smoked salmon. I prefer grilled vegetables, especially asparagus. Is there anything you won’t grill? We will try anything at home except maybe a skunk. Some diners rave that your hamburgers are better than your barbecue. What’s your reaction? Get our barbecue burger and get the best of both worlds. Story by Tim Flach Photography by Tim Dominick

Hudson's Classic Catering
235 Two Notch Road, Lexington, (803) 356-1070

Which one is your favorite? The vinegar pepper sauce. What’s the one dish on the menu that you would want if you were stranded on an island? That’s a tough one, but probably the ribs. Do you favor charcoal and wood chips or propane when cooking? We use them all. It depends on what you’re cooking. How often do you cook at home? It’s tough to find time when you’re open six days a week. Typically, only Sundays and holidays.





South in your mouth. Robin Hudson, center, with his sons, Clint, left and Clay, owns and
operates Hudson's Smokehouse in Lexington and Red Bank.

nothing ordinary here

1217 Bull Street · 803-728-0282 · artizansc.com
Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 35


{ tastemaker }

All smiles. Don Alcorn took over as president of Rush's about five years ago after starting as a teen and working his way up through the ranks.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


Don Alcorn’s rise to the top


on Alcorn, 62, started at Rush’s as a teen, making hamburgers and fries at one of the Midlands’ first fast-food places on Broad River Road. Now, he’s the president of a Rush’s corporation with eight restaurants, where people at the front counters treat customers much the same way Alcorn once did – with a smile and a thank you. How did you get started in the food industry? I grew up in Irmo, went to Irmo High School and Newberry College, and I started at Rush’s as a summer job. I got bit by the bug. I enjoy the contact with people – customers and employees. It’s a different task every day. Rush’s is a home-grown business, started as a drive-up dairy store on Broad River Road by Henry Fred and Emily Simpkins Rush. Their son George Rush, who died in 2008 at age 70, built it into a local fast-food leader. How did you end up in charge? I worked my way up through the years. About five years ago, George had been gradually working his way out of daily operations and turning it over. That’s the way we do it. You develop people under you. I have been developing people under me to take over. Why is it the employees at the counter at Rush’s seem to be especially friendly and eager to take orders? We try to make it a nice place to work with an attitude where we support them and they can be themselves. That relaxes them and allows them to blossom. What do you do for fun? (He’s active with his alma mater Newberry College, plays the organ at St. John’s Lutheran Church and travels to Europe – Amsterdam, Switzerland and London.) I’ve got friends in each of those places. I’ve done the touristy thing, and now I can go to the same places and relax. It’s great to walk the streets with no plan and just watch the people. Story by Joey Holleman • Photography by Tim Dominick

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but it’s not just the building that makes our facility an ideal place. it’s also the deeply committed, highly professional staff who cares for each resident as if they were the only one.

rushs.net 2640 Broad River Road, Columbia, (803) 772-2393 2500 Decker Blvd.,Columbia, (803) 736-0101 2332 Sunset Blvd., West Columbia, (803) 796-2396 7450 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, (803) 783-5201 201 Columbia Ave., Lexington, (803) 359-8858 283 Harbison Blvd., Columbia, (803) 781-1277 10016 Two Notch Road, Columbia, (803) 699-1376 2207 West Dekalb, Camden, (803) 713-0037

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Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 CCP ads3.437x10.indd 1 37 9/23/11 9:28 AM

Man bites dog. Bud Sanderson, owner of Sandy's Hot Dogs. He opened his first place in Lexington in 1979.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ tastemaker }

Dressed-up dogs

Sandy’s owner still likes to sample the sandwiches


ud Sanderson makes the rounds to his Sandy’s Hot What’s an ideal Sunday afternoon like for you? Dogs every day, checks in with employees, samples the The perfect afternoon after church would be splashing around goods. the pool with the grandkids, cooking outside some. I love “Make sure things are done exactly right,” said cooking. I’ll cook anything, chicken and ribs and steaks, burgers Sanderson, 71. and hot dogs. After 32 years in business, with a local chain of four stores, Sanderson Businesses get hit up for donations won’t venture to guess how many hot all the time. What’s one of your dogs he’s eaten. “For years,” he said, “I favorite organizations or events to haven’t gone many days without having contribute to, and why? a hot dog.” I do have a favorite, and we support He has managed to transform the them the best we can — like to do a easy-to-eat food that people woof down lot more for them — Fellowship of at baseball stadiums into a premium Christian Athletes, FCA. It affects a sandwich they savor at a sit-down lot of young peoples’ lives, gets them restaurant. involved in church, high standards and Sanderson opened his first place family values. in Lexington in 1979, giving up a promising management career with a Is there an employee who has earned drug-store chain because it didn’t allow a special place in your company? him time with his two little girls. Now I’ve got several of them. I have a young his daughters are grown, with children man that runs our downtown store of their own. who’s been with us a long time, Will Sanderson and his wife, Maurice, Tevepaugh. He’s 28. He’s been working have three grandchildren, ages 16, 8 with us since he was 16 or 17 years old. and 5. And then his brother, Andy, he’s worked The couple have lived in the same since he was 16 years old. Now they’re Quail Valley house since 1977. They the manager and assistant manager enjoy vegetable gardening and canning of the downtown store, which is our pickles together each summer. high-volume store. We really do pride Sandy's Hot Dogs “We have over 100 tomato plants,” ourselves in hiring nice people. sandyshotdogs.com Sanderson said. “It’s not unusual to go out and pick a couple of bushels of What was the cost of your signature 5175 Sunset Blvd., Lexington, tomatoes a day.” slaw dog when you first opened (803) 356-9956 Some are given to friends. Others end Sandy’s Hot Dogs, and what does it 825 Main Street, Columbia, (803) 254-6914 up on Sandy’s sandwiches. cost now? Sanderson’s only regret is that he When we first started in ’79, our regular 100 Ashland Park Lane, Columbia, didn’t expand to more locations. He was hot dog, dressed out with mustard, chili, (803) 772-8617 expecting to open a fifth restaurant early onions and slaw, was 89 cents. And now 1935 Broad Rover Rd., Columbia, in the year. the menu price is $2.39. (803) 772-1020 Do you have a wacky advertising tactic in your past? Do you have a personal motto or Woody Windham, and his brother, Leo, philosophy of life? they used to be on the radio and say: I really do believe in the golden rule, “Best hot dog the world has ever known!” So I kind of picked and I’ve told our people we want to treat everybody exactly the up on that. Now that’s a pretty broad statement, to say that, way we want to be treated. Treat everybody with dignity and but I personally believe it, too. I’ve eaten hot dogs all over the with respect. country. Story by Dawn Hinshaw • Photography by Tim Dominick, left, and Kim Kim Foster-Tobin

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


{ tastemaker }

Sammi’s Deli
Fulfilling his family tradition
wenty eight years ago, Hassan Addahoumi opened a deli named for his son, Sammi, on Sumter Street that is bustling with students attending the University of South Carolina. Addahoumi now owns seven locations in and around Columbia. His son, Sammi, now handles marketing for the business. He has maintained a faithful and steadily growing clientele by offering an affordable and consistent menu of fresh favorites, including gyros made with lamb, chicken, beef or veggies, grilled hot subs, cold subs, salads, specialty sandwiches, wings in 28 different flavors, chicken tenders and burgers. “Customers can get a cheeseburger made with fresh, never frozen, beef for $6. That’s a good deal,” says Addahoumi. Sammi’s are casually decorated and attract everyone from students to families to business people. Everything is cooked to order. Much of the produce is purchased at the nearby farmer’s market. What brought you into the restaurant business? Food is a family tradition in Libya, where I’m from. I came to the United States and attended USC in 1979 while also working in a restaurant in Five Points. I studied criminal justice, but when I got out of college, I decided to open a restaurant. What gets you out of bed daily? Knowing that I will get to see my customers. Meeting their wants and needs is challenging, but it’s a great experience. I go to two or three of my restaurants in the morning and the rest in the afternoon. Each restaurant is different, has different customers, but many I know by name. At the end of the day, what do you want to happen at your restaurants? Good sales, of course. I have a computer program that shows me what the sales are for all the stores, the number of customers the stores had, the food costs, the deliveries. We have been fortunate to have steady sales, even with the ups and downs of the economy. Football season is a time of year when sales are even better, but we have steady sales from students also. We have good food at low costs for them. What is your favorite aspect of being a restaurateur? Fulfilling my family tradition. I also enjoy being able to make decisions, and I enjoy visiting the different locations. Each one has a different character about it. Do you believe that hard work still pays off in America? Yes. Yes. Yes. This is still the land of opportunity. Americans


Sammi's Deli

sammisdelionline.com 2009 Greene St., Columbia, (803) 779-0006 506 S. Beltline Blvd., Columbia, (803) 782-4662 1624-A Main St., Columbia, (803) 255-0001 1931 Broad River Road, Columbia, (803) 772-0899 1629 Bluff Road, Columbia, (803) 771-0100 9003 Two Notch Road, Columbia, (803) 699-6663 7210 Broad River Road, Irmom (803) 407-1111
can still work hard and accomplish their dreams. With honesty, integrity and hard work, Americans can still prosper – even in an economy like this one. Story by Deena Bouknight, Special to Lake Murray and Northeast magazine • Photography by Kim Kim Foster-Tobin Deena Bouknight is a freelance writer living in the Midlands.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ tastemaker }

‘The people business’
Benny Clark’s McDonald’s restaurants aim to give back


enny Clark, 58, owns four McDonald’s franchises in Columbia – along Harbison Boulevard, Broad River Road, Two Notch Road and at Huger and Gervais. Clark didn’t start his work life in the food industry, but it now dominates his days. When did you get started in the food business? When my career ended with state government, 13 years ago. (Clark was a deputy director of the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services when the 1998 election brought a wave a personnel changes that ended the first chapter of his career.) I didn’t want to have to change careers again. I started to look around at business opportunities, and McDonald’s presented me with the biggest opportunity. With a fast-food business seemingly on every other corner, how can you prosper as a business? The key is getting good people (as employees). I’m in the food business, but I’m really in the people business. The economy is down for everybody, and there’s a tremendous amount of competition in this area. You have lots of options. Whether you come to me or one of my competitors depends on how we treat you. What can a national franchise restaurant do to set itself apart from other such franchises in the area? I live in this community, and I give back to the community. I deal with schools to become part of the community. We don’t have corporate McDonald’s money, but we do what we can. (His company donated to one school’s effort to buy new band uniforms and helped another set up a blood drive. And it provides a college scholarship to an employee every year.) We don’t want to just take from the community; we want to give back. What do you do for fun? (Laughs.) Go to work. It’s what I do.

Life in the fast lane. Benny Clark owns four McDOnald's franchises in Columbia. When you’re a business owner, it’s a 24-7, 365-day job. But I enjoy it, I really do. I eat two meals a day in my restaurants. I sit in the lobby and watch the people. Two fast-food meals a day? I could lose a few pounds, but I don’t think I’m really overweight.

Story by Joey Holleman • Photography by Kim Kim Foster-Tobin


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 41


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

{ tastemaker }

Tronco’s Catering
ronco’s Catering has been serving the Columbia area since 1990, offering a full range of catering services. Company president David Martin said he believed the local market needed a “one-stop shop for catering” that would provide a venue along with staffing, decorations and other special event needs. Through the years, Tronco’s has grown into a regional special events company that clients can turn to for a variety of hospitality needs. While the company specializes in large events, it also provides services for smaller events in clients’ homes or offices and designs events for as few as 20 to as many as several thousand. Tronco’s is at The Medallion Center along Garners Ferry Road at I-77. The Medallion Center is a full-service 42,000-square-foot convention center that can accommodate as many as 2,400 guests. Can you talk a little about the popularity of catering in general among customers? We are seeing a greater demand for catered events as everyone’s lives become busier and busier. Most people just do not have the time to “do it yourself” and execute the perfect event. And what, if any unique role, does your business try to fill in the community? Our clients came to know that they can make one call to Tronco’s and their special event will be taken care of from start to finish. All that they have to do is get dressed, arrive and enjoy their party. What type places are people most likely to find you eating out when you’re not at your own place of business?

‘All that they have to do is get dressed, arrive and enjoy their party’


Personally, my family and I favor casual restaurants. Most often we dine in one of my family’s restaurants. My family’s oldest restaurant is Villa Tronco, which has been operating for over 70 years and is owned by my sister. Or we may go to one of my cousin’s restaurants — Lizard’s Thicket and Terra. What is one of your most favorite things to cook at home? My favorite meal at home is pasta, a family staple for generations. I also enjoy preparing tomato pie in the summer months. Everyone loves my tomato pie. We love experimenting with food at home. My grandmother, Sadie Tronco, taught me how to take whatever was in the refrigerator and make a meal out of it.

How do you feel, generally, about the overall variety of dining opportunities in the Columbia area? Columbia’s dining scene is constantly evolving with the diversity of our population. I think it is exciting to see so many different ethnic cuisines represented in our capital city today. It is exciting to see the hospitality industry thrive in Columbia. We are fortunate to have a large number of restaurateurs who are passionate about what they do. Story by Bertram Rantin Photography by Tim Dominick

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Life of the party. David Martin is the
president of Tronco's Special Events.

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


Movers and shakers influencing the way food is received in the community:
Barry Walker Jr., aka Chef Fatback, is a blues musician, Irmo town councilman and owner of Mac’s on Main jazz and blues eatery in Columbia. Known for its “world famous” peach cobbler, Mac’s on Main’s regular buffet serves up such soul food favorites as Coca-Cola glazed ham, Viola’s Macaroni and Cheese and Carolina Cabbage. Fred Kotoske is the owner of 12 Taco Bells in the Midlands. Kotoske is actively involved in the Columbia community and is a frequent contributor to local campaigns and charities. He was Sistercare’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year in 2009.



Scott Hall, part of a catering family from Lexington, runs one of the four food trucks, Artisan Bone-In BBQ, which have added a new flavor to the Columbia food scene.

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012

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Longtime Columbia restaurateur Bill Dukes is the founder and co-chairman of Honor Flight of South Carolina. Since 2009, S.C. Honor Flight programs have flown about 2,400 World War II veterans for free to Washington to see their national monument. Dukes is the owner of the popular Vista eatery Blue Marlin and was instrumental in getting the city’s convention center built in 2004. Known for using local, seasonal ingredients at his State Street restaurant, Mike Davis is the award-winning chef of Terra in West Columbia. Originally from Dothan, Ala., Davis worked at Magnolia’s in Charleston and at two restaurants – Bayona and Cobalt – in New Orleans before opening Terra almost six years ago. Davis has been interviewed twice on NPR’s “A Chef’s Table” and his restaurant has earned a Wine Spectator award each year since opening. Supporter and advocate for locally grown foods, Emile DeFelice, is the owner and operator of Caw Caw Creek Farms. A 100-acre heritage hog farm based in St. Matthews, Caw Caw Creek supplies pork to some of the finest restaurants in the Southeast. DeFelice helped establish the all-local farmers market in Columbia and has been a candidate for state agriculture commissioner. Seawell’s Catering has been part of the banquet scene for more than 40 years, serving countless meals on Rosewood Drive, at the site of a drive-in restaurant opened by Carroll Seawell in 1946. In 2000, during a contentious GOP presidential primary, Seawell’s was the site of a big debate. Seven of the last eight presidents have been guests during events at Seawell’s. Story by Mindy Lucas and Betsey Guzior

Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


{ past tense }

This photo of the buffet line at Shealy's Bar-B-Que in Batesburg was taken for a story on the restaurant's 25th anniversary in 1994, but it could have been taken any time in the past four decades. The beauty of Shealy’s is that the food has changed little since the place was first established. It's just home cooking (assuming you have a great cook in your home) of such Southern staples as barbecue, fried chicken, collards, rice, cole slaw and banana pudding.


Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012


people, places, things


Looking for a little romance? Try strolling through Riverbanks Zoo during an adults-only tour on Feb. 11. Learn about animal amour and enjoy a three-course meal. Tickets are $100 a couple. Space is limited. Make reservations by Monday, Feb. 6 at www.riverbanks.org



The Crooked Creek Art League meets at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at Crooked Creek Park, 1098 Old Lexington Highway in Chapin. The Seven Oaks Art League meets at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Seven Oaks Park, 200 Leisure Lane in Columbia. The Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra teams up with the USC Dance Company for a program at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Harbison Theater on the Midlands Technical College campus in Irmo. Details. www.lmso.org

Sample the latest in power boats and leisure craft at the 2012 Boat Show Feb. 10-12 at the State Fairgrounds. This year’s show features 12 area boat dealers and dozens of additional exhibitors. See the newest feature runabouts, sport boats, fishing boats, cruisers, personal watercraft, jet boats and highperformance boats. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.


The Orchids on the Riverbanks Festival, Feb. 10-12, features hundreds of blooming orchids and displays from the Ikebana International Chapter 183. Hours are 1-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Entry is free with paid regular admission to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Details: (803) 779-8717 or visit www.riverbanks.org for more information.


The Lexington Womans Club 28th Annual Charity Golf Tournament is set for March 26 at the Country Club of Lexington. Proceeds benefit the Lexington Medical Center Foundation Mobile Mammography unit. The outing includes door prizes, lunch, a cocktail party and awards. Team registration entry fee for two players is $160. Details: Linda Smith at (803) 359-1955 or Pam Harman (803) 359-3473

Locally Owned. Nationally Recognized.
Challenging economic times can create new opportunities for success. In that spirit, Professional Printers, Inc. and the R.L. Bryan Company have agreed to a new strategic alliance that allows R.L. Bryan to develop its fulfillment and book business by partnering with Professional Printers, Inc. to handle their commercial printing sales. The agreement reached frees R.L. Bryan to grow with the challenging future of educational resources and electronic media. Professional Printers, Inc. is honored to be selected to carry on the proud tradition of excellence that has made the R.L. Bryan Company a part of South Carolina history for over 160 years.

To learn more, please contact Professional Printers at either location.
1730 Old Dunbar Rd. West Columbia, SC 29172 301 Greystone Blvd. Columbia, SC 29210

803-796-4000 800-948-1074


Printing • Mailing • Digital & Variable Data • Promotional Products • Design www.proprinters.com Lake Murray–Columbia® & Northeast Columbia | Febr uar y 2012 47

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