COLUMBIA — As the year comes to an end, so does Shiloh Bar and Grill — as regulars have known it for the past 20 years, anyway.
Jack Rader, owner of the property and some of the equipment inside the bar, will not be renewing the lease with Shiloh owner Tom Atkinson.
Instead, Rader plans to operate the business for one year before handing it over to two of his children, who are in their early 20s.
“The opportunity has come up for my kids to go into business and get experience in something they are going to be doing,” Rader said.
Shiloh will be closed temporarily in January for both inside and outside improvements, including cosmetic updates, major cleaning, relocation of the bars and a new kitchen. Rader said he will reopen the bar and grill under a different name around the beginning of February, but the new name has not been chosen.
Rader said his decision not to renew the lease was simply a business decision. “It was time for a change,” he said.
Shiloh has served as a corner gathering ground at Sixth and Elm streets for two decades.
Ownership shifted about 12 years ago, when Tom Atkinson purchased the business from Willene Baker and Ron McMillian. Atkinson soon did a massive renovation of the property that included doubling the size of the original building and patio.
The business was started in the late ’80s by Baker and McMillian, Rader said.
Before it was Shiloh, the corner spot was home to a number of other businesses, including a bar, pizzeria and fish and chips restaurant.
Rader’s current plan of keeping the bar up-and-running might be a tentative one, though. Sasaki Associates, a consulting firm hired by the city to look at options to improve downtown, has proposed a plan that would affect the corner property.
“There has been talk of demolishing U.S. Cleaners and the bar and building high-rises in its place,” Rader said.
From what he knows, though, if those plans are approved, they wouldn’t be implemented for a few years, Rader said, .
Atkinson said he has known since January that Rader would not be renewing his lease. Atkinson owns all rights to the Shiloh name and has been looking for a new location for the bar. This location is yet to be determined.
Don Laird, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said he’s not surprised Shiloh will carry on elsewhere.
“Shiloh is a very strong business in Columbia, and I would anticipate the owner will want to open in another location,” Laird said.
Atkinson said he feels that Shiloh has a unique following that sets it apart from other bar and grills.
“Every other bar targets a core group,” he said. “All along, Shiloh has had a steady following of regulars including all age groups.”
“Disappointed” was the word used by Atkinson to describe the general customer response. “Columbia has a lot of traditions which continue to bring people here,” he said.