Behind-scenes tour of Hennessy’s building, new restaurant tenant expected to open late fall

Basement-level courtyard. Karamie Sullivan photos.

Many Columbia natives are familiar with the old Hennessy’s building on the 1600 block of Main Street. The historic landmark dates much farther back than the years of the popular restaurant, in fact it was originally built in 1865. It began as a grocery store, owned by a few different people over the years from 1880 to 1926. Then it became Ruff Hardware for 50 years, until 1978. After that, its popular use as Hennessy’s ran from 1983 to 2011. The building has remained unused since then. However, Garvin Design Group’s Scott Garvin purchased the building in 2016, and now the newest tenant for a portion of the space is expected to open late fall of this year. Historic Columbia hosted a behind-the-scenes tour of the venue Tuesday night.

Garvin Design and Hood Construction are working together to redesign the space, while respecting its historical significance. Garvin admitted that the building means a lot to him. “I used to meet my dad here for lunch a bunch of times,” he said. “I remember even as a short guy, I had to duck my head in here. I couldn’t wait to rip out the mezzanine.” The main floor will now have much higher ceilings than before. “The downstairs was beyond disgusting, all basements are. It had been left alone for years. It had a lot of water and shag carpet,” he added.

The space is now set up for a basement tenant, that will include an outside courtyard, positioned on the Blanding Street side. According to Garvin, in 1941 Ruff Hardware wanted to expand their space, and they dug everything out underneath the sidewalk on that side. Garvin approached the city asking if he could open the space back up beneath the sidewalk to allow daylight to be seen from the basement level. To his surprise, he said, the city said yes. The basement tenant is still unknown, but representatives said they are envisioning some kind of restaurant or cafe. The ground-level floor also remains vacant and ready for a tenant.

The top floor is being utilized to create Hendrix, a restaurant that will feature a seasonal, rotating menu created by chef Javier, from Motor Supply. According to Hendrix co-owner John Sears, the space will include an additional 2,200-sq.-ft. rooftop area. Sears voiced his excitement for their plans. “We’re happy to be a part of this block. We’re excited about the space, it’s just so beautiful,” he said. “The rooftop is going to be huge, it’s going to be a great view.” The name Hendrix comes from one of the former owners of the space when it was utilized as a grocery store in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

Sears said they hope to open by late October, or the first week of November, at the latest.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Business, Columbia, Richland County

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