Food & Drink

Devine Street restaurant that opened last year has closed

How one chef hopes to expand Columbia's palate

Chef Russell Jones at Tallulah talks about his restaurant
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Chef Russell Jones at Tallulah talks about his restaurant

Columbia has lost another independent restaurant as Tallulah on Devine Street has closed its doors.

The last day of service was Saturday.

The restaurant's Facebook page posted notice of the closing Monday evening, thanking the staff, vendors and guests for their support and patronage.

Being in a well-known location, combined with a different style of menu, might have not worked in the restaurant's favor.

Chef Russell Jones opened Tallulah on Jan. 14, 2017, in the former Dianne's restaurant location.

Dianne Light had known Jones' family and offered the space for rent when Jones, his wife and newborn son moved back to Columbia from Washington, D.C. The space underwent a full remodel, and Jones launched Tallulah with a menu of small plates based on regions of South Carolina (Sandhills, Lowcountry, Piedmont and Appalachia).

In an interview with The State in May 2017, Jones said that "customers found the menu confusing — it took a lot of explaining.."

He altered the menu to include larger portioned dishes and a selection of steaks but kept a few of the small plate items.

Still, Jones said in the same interview that "the younger generation seems to think we're an extension of Dianne's, and the older generation sees us as the usurpers. I have to convince both crowds that what we're doing here is something different and it's worth coming to."

In the course of a year, Tallulah tried lunch service, brunch service and different variations of the menu. Last month, Jones and chef Sarah Simmons hosted the annual Transitions fundraiser dinner with guest chefs Aarti Sequeira, Becky Masson, Clair Robinson and Grayson Schmitz.

The Tallulah kitchen was packed with talent with Blake Fairies (formerly of Saluda's and Nonnah's/Sea+Salt) and Charley Scruggs (The Oak Table and Rise Gourmet Goods & Bakeshop) working alongside Jones.

This is the second major restaurant closing in Columbia in a week — The Oak Table on Main Street closed June 2. That location was purchased by Hall Management Group in Charleston and will reopen later in 2018 as Hall's Chophouse.

Jones could not be reached for comment. The chef had said that Tallulah had "been a growing process. I've been really happy with what we've been doing. I feel that Columbia is still figuring us out … and we're figuring out Columbia."