You cannot attend the University of South Carolina without having heard of Cook Out. This particular fast-food chain is beloved by the USC student body for its comfort food menu, late-night hours and, most importantly, its college student-friendly prices.
Cook Out’s popularity is no secret — driving past the establishment shows a line out the door almost every night and booths packed full of happy customers. Often, Columbia Police Department will station officers outside the doors of Cook Out due to the number of intoxicated students who make their way through the restaurant on a regular basis.
Chick-fil-A in Five Points followed in Cook Out's footsteps by extending its hours into the early morning to accommodate hungry bar-goers, keeping its doors open just Friday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m Saturday. While the Chick-fil-A menu does not provide the amount of variety as its more successful neighbor, its following has remained avid, especially in the South.
While chicken nuggets and fries seem to be the favorite drunk food in Five Points, much praise has been given to local calzone joint Eddie's Calzones. Conveniently located right next to the popular Breakers Bar & Grill, Eddie's deserves more credit as a hub for late-night dining.
Eddie’s remains popular with our student body because it made the wise decision to stay open until 4 a.m. You can get a burger or chicken sandwich and fries at either of the previously named establishments, but indulging on a mac and cheese calzone is an experience I can never receive from Chick-fil-A or even our beloved Cook Out. Eddie’s provides a unique menu that remains appealing to the customer. The only thing stopping the visitors of Five Points from descending on the threshold of Eddie’s Calzones is the budget-busting prices.
Cook Out does not have an item on its menu over $5 — this is the key to its success. Five dollars can get you a burger, chicken nuggets and fries. At Chick-fil-A, $5 can almost get you a chicken wrap and fries. The prices of these two chains, while Cook Out remains cheaper, are comparable. A calzone from Eddie’s Calzones, however, will cost you more than double what you pay at Chick-fil-A or Cook Out. A classic calzone from Eddie’s is a whopping $11, a budget-breaking purchase, especially after spending money around the town all night.
There are three essential factors to being a successful late-night food joint in Five Points: prices below $5, comfort food and extra late hours. Cook Out reigns as the campus favorite midnight food hub, but Eddie’s and Chick-fil-A have immense potential. Each restaurant is missing one key factor of the perfect late-night food joint, which results in their eclipsing by the infamous Cook Out.