Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Memories of Columbia's Past

For months while at work, a popular topic of discussion was of old restaurants and businesses that have disappeared from Columbia and the memories we have of those unique and interesting places. I say unique because once these businesses were gone there was little or nothing to replace them, at least in my opinion.

Columbia has been a growing city, thus it has drawn in the various chain restaurants and stores giving it the appearance of any other mid-western community it's size. It still has some features that make it unique like Columbia College, the UMC campus, Stephens College and the likes but it's the little things that I feel the community is missing. Those old restaurants and businesses I will be listing spark my memories, both good and bad, and I believe they added color and spice to our little area of the world. I am sad that I'm unable to take my children to these places but they will develop their own memories in time and a possible good side, they are saved from listening to mine.

Before I start I want to thank some coworkers who inspired me to start this list. To Mr. Ed who gave me the article's title and is constantly challenging my mental capacity with questions about new businesses opening up around Columbia. And of course Dietary Dave aka "Mr. Columbia" for his superior memory of everything Columbia and his sense of humor. I will limit the list to only places I have visited and have memories of and I will try to include addresses, personalities and anything else that comes up. In the future I hope to add photos, graphics and resources that may help all of us. Everyone reading these posts are welcome to start their own site to increase the information and expand the subject matter. And please forgive my sophomoric attempt at writing until I get the rust out of my brain and fingers. Well here goes:

Heritage House Restaurant
Off Business Loop 70 and on the southwest outer I-70 road was a buffet of buffets. Heritage House had a great buffet of good to substandard food which helped feed me during my college days. I remember salty country ham, soggy fried frog legs, barely cooked fried chicken and interesting vegetables of an unknown nature. My friends and I loved eating there because we could eat a huge amount of food for a great price. I once remember playing with a cockroach on our table while eating and my friends were jealous because they did not have one for themselves. (I let the cockroach run off to finish it's short life and washed my hands.) Running the show was an interesting gentleman named Sam Collier who would walk around looking at the food, sometimes check you out at the register and made tv commercials for his place. I remember him well because I had Food Handler's Class with him twice and he seemed to know everyone. The instructor would pick on him and he brought some humor to a boring class. Some time after the restaurant closed they started tearing the building down and we wondered about all the roaches and where they would go. We also remembered huge amounts of food, good conversations and a good time for all.


Rusty Nails said...

Holy s**t!! Thank you for that post. I was just talking with a friend about our memories of columbia. And we were saying "What was the name of that disgusting S**thole buffet out on I-70 ? Oh yeah Heritage House!"

Keep up the good work, great blog.

Anonymous said...

My first job in high school was as a busboy at the I-70 drive Heritage House in 1979-1980, and I remember Sam and Bob Collier well. They owned and operated the restaurant together with Bob's wife. Sam was not kind to his employees, and Bob made some of the waitresses uncomfortable. I remember marveling at the stark efficiency of using all of that leftover bread from the bread warmer (and rumor had it the uneaten portions from customers' plates although I never actually witnessed that) to make bread pudding a few times per week. When the dinner rush started slower than normal, they made scheduled employees wait to clock in until it was busy enough. We high schools kids learned to take our homework to work with us so we could study if we were not able to clock in for our scheduled shift. We didn't know any better, that practice was aligned with the whole efficiency of that operation.