Fried chicken. Some customers say it’s the best they’ve tasted. Otherwise it is the variety that keeps people coming back. All the food is freshly prepared and on display. What you see is what you get. There is a variety of meats, baked chicken, fish, roast beef and roast turkey, as well as a selection of Southern-style vegetables: lima beans, turnip greens, sweet potato casserole, etc. Customers can choose from fresh green salads to prepared broccoli or pasta salads. Breads might include soft rolls, garlic bread and bran and corn muffins. In honor of the woman for whom the restaurant is named, Sadie Tronco, Friday night is Italian night; dishes such as lasagna, baked spaghetti and chicken parmesan are on display.
The desserts: A large section of the food counter is devoted to appealing to one’s sweet tooth. And the desserts are right after the salads – just to make sure the selection is made before the main meal is chosen. For pie lovers, choices abound: chocolate, lemon, pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, Jefferson Davis and apple. There are cakes, pudding and Jell-O. A pastry chef arrives at the cafeteria around 6:30 a.m. daily to roll pie crust out by hand and then prepare the desserts.
The late Sadie Tronco prepared and sold authentic Italian dishes on Main Street in Columbia more than 70 years ago. Villa Tronco, in downtown Columbia, is still a family business. She was David Martin’s grandmother; he now owns Sadie’s American Cafeteria and Tronco Catering. He wanted to honor the memory of his grandmother. At the entryway and throughout the restaurant are signs bearing her resemblance.
Other than the standard cafeteria floor plan, where customers enter through a line and exit into a dining room, the walls are painted a warm, vibrant gold or red and adorned with friendly, contemporary-style artwork. The red, white and black Sadie’s signs complement the rest of the decor. The cafeteria is in the same location as the former S&S Cafeteria, which closed last year, so little was required to renovate the space in order to open as Sadie’s. Martin says that by locating in Richland Mall along Forest Drive, he is “coming home” since his family grew up in Forest Acres.
Martin says he is excited that there is once again a place for people to “enjoy good food, family and fellowship” in Richland Mall. According to a managing member of Century Capital Group, LLC, owners of Richland Mall, there were regular calls from previous S&S customers – prior to Sadie’s opening – asking for another cafeteria to open there. It is an ideal gathering place for families, friends, church groups, Bible studies, book clubs and various other assemblies. When the doors opened in May, the line extended outside.