Lizard’s Thicket

My two sons, Phil and Mark, are graduating from Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, which is adjacent to the city of Columbia, South Carolina.  I had come to see them graduate and celebrate this important milestone in their lives. 

It was late at night when we turned onto the street our motel is on.  As we passed a restaurant on the corner, I had to smile at the name:  Lizard’s Thicket.  How imaginative!  Though I wasn’t terribly surprised… it was in the American South, after all.  Where else could you find grocery stores named Piggly Wiggly, and restaurants named Lizard’s Thicket?!

Little did I know that I was lucky to be within walking distance of the restaurant.  Lizard’s Thicket is a gastronomical institution in Columbia, and a source of local pride.  Founded in 1977 by Bob and Anna Williams, the very first Lizard’s Thicket restaurant was a remodeled 5-room house, with three small dining rooms and one small kitchen.  The Williams’ philosophy was simple:  down-home country cooking at reasonable prices.  Their menu consisted of regional Southern cuisine, like fried chicken and collard greens, served in a comfortable, old-fashioned atmosphere.  The first restaurant was a huge  success, and the Williams family now owns and operates 15 restaurants in the area, with over 600 employees.

The restaurant’s “Today’s Special” is straightforward and simple:  1 meat & 3 vegetables.  You could choose from fried chucken, baked ham, country fried steak, and a half dozen other fish and meats.  Then you choose 3 side dishes from an assortment of 24 options, like mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh collards, okra and tomatoes, and the like.  You also get cornbread, rolls, or a mixture.  All this food for $6.89.  That’s not just the lunch price, either.  The helpings are large, and the food is just what you’d hope to find:  homestyle Southern cooking that’s hot and delicious.

Lizard’s Thicket has a country-kitchy website with it’s own online community:  The Lizard Nation.  You could join discussion groups there, one of which is called “Lizard Nation Gamers”.  The group describes itself as follows:  “It’s a little known fact that 8 out of 10 gamers prefer 1 meat and 3 veggies when it comes to fueling their gaming addiction. Energy drinks and hot pockets are great for a short burst here and there but for those long-haul all night gaming sessions nothing provides the stamina we gamers require like some down home Country Cookin’ from the Lizard’s Thicket! Lizard Nation Gamers Unite!”  Being the mom of a houseful of gamers, I can imagine my children’s (and their spouses) heads nodding in assent. 

Personal experience:  I’ve eaten there twice now; once for breakfast, and once for lunch.  I had a BLT on Texas Toast and sweet potato tater tots for breakfast, both of which were excellent.  The tater tots were a surprise… sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar, they were delightfully sweet and crunchy.  For lunch toda, I had fried chicken (they ask whether you want dark meat or white meat– how considerate!), coleslaw, potato salad, a roll, and Jell-O.  All that food for under $7.00.  And I had leftovers!

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