Main Street mainstay to reopen its doors

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Before megamalls, there was Main Street in Columbia. And that was about it.

"You had just downtown Main Street," said Porter Dodd. "This is where everybody congregated. Especially weekends, afternoons, the whole 9 yards."

Dodd, a Columbia-based artist, remembers 1963 and his job at Tapp's Department Store.

"I was a porter," said Dodd. "Porter porter. Yeah."

Porter the Porter says the restaurant underneath that store, the Fountain Room, was where you wanted to be at noon.

"The food was good, the personalities were good, the atmosphere was superb," said Dodd. "It was just a great place to go."

The Fountain Room was open for 55 years until Tapp's closed in 1995. In April, the room will reopen.

"Everyone talked about the Fountain Room, the rich history here and meeting and having their first and second dates here," said manager Frederick Hogsett.

Hogsett hopes bringing back the atmosphere with daily live jazz will bring back the crowd. While the pricing may have changed, original favorites will be back as well.

"I can't go anywhere and mention the Fountain Room and corn sticks without drawing a crowd who want to know if we'll bring back the original vegetable soup and corn sticks," said Hogsett.

Corn sticks, or cornbread in the shape of an ear of corn, were so popular the owners put the recipe online after the restaurant closed. Dodd says he hasn't had one of those since the restaurant closed.

Dodd is also looking forward to a familiar taste and a familiar sight with crowds of people in the heart of town.

"Everybody's in it to win it now on Main Street and I see it as a great opportunity to blossom and grow and be here another 55 years just like the original Fountain Room," said Hogsett.

The Fountain Room is open to visitors for the First Thursday on Main event. Hogsett hopes anyone with memories or photos of the restaurant will stop by to share so that he can get the atmosphere just as it was.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.