Jillian’s closes its longtime Vista location

Jillian’s, a once-popular restaurant and entertainment venue in the Vista, closed its doors last weekend, ending a nearly 20-year run in the Capital City.

A sign Monday on the front door of the restaurant and night club space on Gervais Street directed former employees to a local law firm to pick up their checks and W-2 forms. Jillian’s dates back to the Vista’s ascendency as an entertainment district rivaling the city’s Five Points area.

“We’re closed. The landlord changed the locks on the door this morning,” said Rick Gleissner, an attorney at the Gleissner law firm in Columbia, which is handling Jillian’s close-down operations for JCMG, the local owners.

Management called a meeting with employees Sunday to inform them the business would no longer operate. The restaurant, which included a couple of bars, several adjoining rooms with pool tables and sitting areas, a game room, two dance halls for live music and outdoor patio and deck on the back, could not overcome the effects of the October flood, Gleissner said.

“They were hurt a great, great deal,” he said. “They were closed for 10 days, and even when they reopened, they had to reopen with additional expenses in the form of bottled water and can sodas and all that sort of stuff,” Gleissner said. “They lost a considerable amount of money as a result of the flooding situation.”

Added to those miseries is a familiar trouble doubtlessly heard by many Columbia businesses and residents after the flood. The insurance company that held Jillian’s business interruption insurance declared the losses were not covered because the interruption was caused by the flood, Gleissner said.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, then told the owners the agency couldn’t help, referring them to the Small Business Administration, or SBA, Gleissner said. The SBA told the owners they did not qualify for assistance, he said.

JCMG has owned the Columbia Jillian’s for about two years, Gleissner said. It was unclear Monday how many employees would be affected by the closing. Jillian’s operated Tuesday through Saturday and opened in the fall of 1997 catering to an older clientele, rather than to college students.

Susan Martin, president of the Palmetto Shag Club, which met at Jillian’s Groove Shack on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., said Monday she heard by word of mouth the Vista club would not be open for shag this Friday night.

Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398