1441 Main Cafe - 1441 Main St.

Posted by The LunchMen Friday, September 17, 2010

The first time I ate at Gotham Bagel, I walked out and remarked “I wonder what will be in that space next.”  Some restaurants are doomed from the outset.  1441 Main Cafe is one of those restaurants.  Even the décor (or lack thereof) says, “we’re just passing through” – which is especially disappointing given the dramatic facelift given to the 1441 Main St. building.  After losing their major law firm tenant, who moved up the street to keep up with the Joneses, the building’s lobby and exterior were renovated with great success.  The Lunchmen were particularly excited to learn there would be space dedicated to a lunch counter.  Excited no more. 

This morning started with Tank and I ruminating about yesterday’s trip to the Greek Festival and planning our return for today.  All the talk about food, prompted us to head out in search of a morning snack.  I hate Starbucks.  Tank has a strange relationship with their scones.  I initially refused to go, but absent a nearby alternative, I relented.  We set out on foot complaining about our terrible office coffee and the lack of a local coffee shop within walking distance of the office.  A half block from Starbucks we noticed 1441 Main and called an audible.  Tank remarked, “I’ll always forego the familiar to try something new.”  Editors Note: Mrs. Tank, that sentiment only applies to food.

The vibe was immediately suspicious, as the only patrons were a couple of odd-ball septuagenarians feeding cream cheese to their tiny dog and a security guard sitting next to an empty stroller.  Draw your own conclusions.  We pressed on, and were half-heartedly greeted by the woman behind the counter while the other employee slammed boxes and clanked containers in some bizarre, discourteous anti-symphony.   Tank and I were intrigued by the menu’s breadth, which included a plethora of pastries, biscuits and gravy and other breakfast sandwiches.  A skeptical Tank muttered that such ambition on a new menu was reckless.  Boy, was he right.

I went bold with the biscuits and gravy.  The cardboard box and steel pan anti-composer said to her co-worker, as if we couldn’t hear, “I think we have some gravy, but it is probably old.”  To my amazement, she still pulled out the saran wrapped container of gravy to prepare my breakfast, before I protested and asked for the bagel instead.  Lets stop here for a moment.  Restaurant owners, employees, and other human beings: if you ever have to even think the phrase “it is probably old” – you should tell the customer you are out of the questionable food item.  Don’t play with me at breakfast.  I will come after you if you poison me with rotten gravy.

Tank, our resident scone aficionado, selected one of their three flavor offerings and we both grabbed small cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee from the dispenser.  Upon returning our respective offices, we chowed down.  My bagel, barely toasted, stale and bready, required copious amounts of cream cheese to even be edible.  Kali appeared in my door just in time to hear me proclaim it the worst bagel I’ve ever consumed.  Seriously.  I’ve had month-old grocery store bagels better than this.  Just as I finished lambasting the place, Tank comes running down the hall screaming, “that is the worst scone I’ve ever had.”  This is a first – we’ve never had two “worsts” from a single dining experience.  Tank noted that the microwaved scone had been reduced to dough in the middle and couldn’t hold a candle to Starbucks.    

Welcome to the Boo List 1441 Main Cafe.  I can’t even bring myself to try your lunch, which we noticed included refrigerated sandwiches done gas station style.  Maybe you should poach one of the ladies from The Lunch Box to see if their experience can save your fledgling restaurant... otherwise, good luck in your future endeavors.

- The Publican


  1. Matty Light Says:
  2. Couldn't agree more. I work up the street from this place and stopped in after blinging it up at Wachovia, it was awful, same bagel experience for me. Blech!!!

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. I think the place is great.. I've eaten there several times and always have found it good. Prices are extremely reasonable.


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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.