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Iconic downtown bar closes for first time in 17 years > Columbia Business Report

The Whig, the iconic basement bar at 1200 Main Street, will close later this year.  (Photo/Melinda Waldrop)

The Whig, an iconic basement bar at the intersection of Main and Jerve Streets in downtown Columbia, will close later this year after 17 years.

Owners Phill Blair and Will Green announced Thursday that the bar will be closed because the lease has not been renewed.

Developers have announced plans to build a hotel in a 100-year-old building at 1200 Main Street, where Whig is located. A planned large-scale construction project will make it impossible to continue business in the popular location, the owner says.

“We’ve been doing great business lately. Honestly, this is the saddest and most heartbreaking part of it all,” Blair told SC Biz News Thursday afternoon. “The Whigs are busier than ever and should consider putting the brakes on.”

The popular bar has enjoyed a wide following over the years due to its unique dark basement atmosphere, wide selection of beers and other drinks, and what many locals have said is one of the best bar food in the Midlands. I got Signature items include a variety of sandwiches, smoked Gouda mac and cheese, and gravy fries.

“We’ve kept the menu pretty much the same for as long as most of our customers can remember, just added a few new things here and there,” says Blair. “We really want to give people the items they want, and we made sure we were serving them the same way our customers have always liked them.”

Named to the 2021 Icons and Geniuses list of the Columbia Regional Business Report for his entrepreneurial success, Blair began working at Whig when it opened in 2005 and became an owner in 2006. Not only will you see bars becoming favorites with a diverse crowd of locals and tourists, but you’ll also see the evolution of Main Street.

“When we opened, nothing was going on there, but the business has grown and gained a following, and so has Main Street,” he said. I think we’re really seeing the growth here reach a tipping point: it’s always been busy and it’s become a place people want to go to.”

Over the years, the Whigs have played a key role in hosting popular downtown events such as First Thursday at the Columbia Museum of Art and Arts and Draft.

One of the factors that turned Whig into a downtown icon was its welcoming atmosphere.

“That’s always been our main focus and direction for our service,” said Blair. “We understand that we need to dig into the heads of everyone who works here and say hello and welcome everyone. You don’t have to feel alienated from here.”

Whig’s lease expires at the end of November, and the owners hope to keep it running at least until then.

“We love holidays and Halloween is always a big party for us, so I hope we can do that,” he said.

Blair and Green also own and will continue to operate a WECO Bottle and Beer Garden in Western Columbia.

Blair has already been asked if the owner would consider relocating Whig to another location downtown.

“It’s possible, but a lot of things would have to go wrong for it to happen,” Blair said. “It is certainly ideal and what we would like to do, but it is easier said than done. is needed.”

Contact Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.