Do you remember when there was a Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge on Augusta Road + Church Street? How about the Wicked Witch Lounge that was in the basement of the Ho Jo? Grace and I can’t say that we do, but given the fact that it’s spooky season, when we saw this Instagram post from Pickwick Pharmacy last week, we were definitely intrigued. And what we’ve discovered is just bewitching.
Where the Taco Bell is currently located on Augusta Road, there used to be a 60-unit Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge and Restaurant. At the time, it was Greenville’s third Howard Johnson’s restaurant and second motor lodge + cost roughly $800,000 to develop. Howard Johnson’s (for those of you who don’t know) was “the largest restaurant chain in the US throughout the 1960s and 1970s” known for its orange roofs, cupolas, and weather vanes.
So, that brings us to the Wicked Witch Lounge. According to a Facebook fan group, “this dark corner basement world was the first introduction to some into the land of forbidden hops.” And from this ad in The Greenville News on Sept. 4, 1970 the Wicked Witch was open evenings from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and was popular for their $1.50 pitchers amongst many young people in town back in the 70s and 80s.
So we want to know, what sorts of toil + trouble do you remember about this unique Greenville spot? We’ve heard the stairs leading down to the basement bar were narrow + very steep, that there was a round DJ booth in the center + a Pac-Man game, and that there were different “sides” of the bar depending on which local school you attended. Pat P. said on Facebook, “My first bar – worked the door for free beer…I remember being there during a blackout. Someone put a candle on the stairs for light – started a small fire.”