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Vista's World of Beer closes amid pandemic struggles

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Signage for the Vista location of World of Beer, which closed on Monday, Nov. 16. 

The Vista location of craft beer bar franchise World of Beer closed on Monday.

Owner Simon Canasi confirmed the news to Free Times and cited the pandemic as the main cause. The Columbia outpost of the Florida-based chain, home to more than 100 different beers at any given time and host to various trivia nights, opened in 2011.

“We had a good run until this damn virus kicked our booty man, it's unbelievable what it’s done,” Canasi said. “We’re sorry to go, but we just couldn’t take it anymore.”

He said the bar had once employed about 20 workers, but after the pandemic it had dropped to about 12 to 15 workers.

The bar is Canasi’s only business in Columbia, he said. The Tampa, Florida-based owner elected to open the franchise in Columbia due to the city’s demographics and the location’s proximity to the State Capitol and the University of South Carolina.

Canasi said he had hoped for a second stimulus package from the government to aid the ailing business.

“We had a good landlord but unfortunately, you know, just like so many other businesses in the Vista and across the nation, we got done in by COVID-19,” Canasi said.

World of Beer’s closure is the first in a few months for the Vista neighborhood, Columbia’s top nightlife and entertainment district. In the early days of the pandemic, longtime favorite dive bar Uncle Louie’s closed, as did the fast-casual chain outpost of Sabor Latin Grill.

At the same time, some business have opened. The former TakoSushi, a chain of Mexican and Japanese cuisine restaurants that closed prior to the pandemic, was filled in September by restaurant Crabby’s Cajun, and Republic Biergarten and Kitchen opened in late summer, taking over the space previously occupied by another beer-slinging chain, Flying Saucer.

A reopened, rebranded Ristorante Divino is set to open soon, as well, dubbed Di Vino Rosso, under partially changed ownership.

David Clarey joined Free Times in November 2019 as a food and news writer. He's constantly fighting competing desires to try cooking food at home and spending his entire paycheck on Columbia restaurants.

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