Columbia Mediterranean restaurant to close, but plans to reopen on North Main

Al-Amir Mediterranean restaurant, which has been a fixture at the corner of Main and Laurel streets in Columbia for five years, has closed.

Owner Mohammed Saadedden said Monday he is moving the business to a former Chinese and Thai restaurant at 2431 Main St., north of Elmwood Avenue.

Main Street’s loss will be North Main’s gain, he said.

“I love this location,” he said of the new spot. “So we just decided to go ahead and get this done.”

Saadedden said the Main and Laurel location just never worked for him.

The lighting was poor. There were issues with the homeless. And promised improvement to the 1700 block never materialized.

“They just stopped” at the 1600 block of Main, Saadedden said of the city’s Main Street beautification program.

Other businesses have also struggled on that block

Local Yokal, a New York-styled grocery store/bodega at 1712 Main St., closed in December after just a few months in business and DaufusKEYS Gullah Bistro also shuttered just a few doors down.

The rest of the storefronts are home to law offices rather than lively retail spaces that bring pedestrian traffic. The Richland County Courthouse and Columbia’s City Hall are across the street.

There are no other retail shops or restaurants nearby until you cross Elmwood Avenue to North Main Street.

However, a new jazz club, The Joint at 1710 Main, is opening in the old Mac’s on Main/DaufusKEYS location.

Saadedden, who flirted with southern cooking at the Main and Laurel location before closing the place down April 20, said the new joint will go back to a menu of healthy Mediterranean fare.

He hopes to open this month.

Jeff Wilkinson has worked for The State for both too long and not long enough. He’s covered politics, city government, history, business, the military, marijuana and the Iraq War. Jeff knows the weird, wonderful and untold secrets of South Carolina. Buy him a shot and he’ll tell you all about them.