What’s good here?
Willie Durkin, one of the owners of Thirsty Fellow, sought the tastiest pizza pie recipe and found it at Pie Town, formerly owned by Peter Reinhart, who has written books on pizza and is a Johnson and Wales faculty member. Durkin even took a pizza course at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte to bring what he believes is the perfect pizza pie to Columbia.
Pizzas are stone-fired. Choose between a red or white pie: tomato sauce and mozzarella versus olive oil, garlic, and a choice of cheese. There are other vegetable, protein, oil, and cheese toppings to add – everything from sun-dried tomatoes to roasted chicken to Gorgonzola to truffle oil.
There also is a complete menu of items that are not pizza-related. Favorites are the fresh housemade chips and the firecracker shrimp, with just enough spice – an ideal complement to a salad. There are two creamy dips: spinach artichoke and shrimp.
The Carolina Chicken Sandwich is stuffed with chicken tenders, chipotle sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce and served on a hoagie roll. A meatball hoagie, Philly cheesesteak, half-pound burger, French dip, and Italian hoagie are also favorites.
Several salads are offered with or without add-ons, such as anchovies, shrimp, chicken or salmon. One salad, Pear, uniquely pairs pears with mixed greens; strawberries; deep-fried, nut-encrusted goat cheese; and almond slices. Desserts and soups are daily specials. There is a full bar.
How did Thirsty Fellow get started?
Two of the partners, Durkin and Chuck Belcher, have had many years of experience in the food and beverage industry. Terry Davis, another partner, is a USC graduate who worked as director of admissions at USC for many years. The three decided to open Thirsty Fellow not only to provide patrons with a “perfect” pizza pie experience, but also to offer fresh, creative, housemade food in a casual and friendly atmosphere.
They decided to use the name “fellow” because it connotes an academic peer group. The owners want customers to have fun at special events such as the Trivia Mondays and during their happy hours, yet expect responsibility where drinking is concerned. At the bar are $10 Checker Yellow Cab gift cards for patrons who should not drive.
What does the place look like?
Thirsty Fellow has an open bar and various areas for seating a few or many. There are televisions for viewing sports. Thirsty Fellow can seat 150 total at the bar, in an interior dining room, and on the patio.
Who eats here?
White-collar and blue-collar workers, as well as the T-shirt crowd. Thirsty Fellow is within walking distance from the USC campus and close enough to the heart of downtown Columbia that “the bulk of the clientele are professionals, university staff, and state employees,” Durkin says. Gov. Nikki Haley is a regular.
621 Gadsden St., Columbia
PRICES: Pizzas are $9 for a small to $17.50 for a large and may be more depending on what toppings are added; other items range from approximately $3 to $10.
HOURS: 11 a.m.-midnight, Monday-Saturday. 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday. Happy hour is 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, while Sunday brunch is 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Deena C. Bouknight, Special to Go Columbia