Monday, June 27, 2016

The Iconic Three-C Grill

When students left the campus of Florence State College at the end of the spring semester in 1958, they left the Triangle Grill standing on the corner of Wood and Morrison Avenues. When they returned in the fall, they were met by the new Three-C Grill. The Triangle had been so named due to the acute angle at which Wood and Morrison met, and over the years it had won popularity with the college students who were its largest customer base; yet the Three-C is what most Florentines think of when asked to recall the corner before it was purchased by the university.

When Jerry, Jim, and Charlie Carroll acquired the old Triangle Grill, it seemed only natural to rename it the Three-C. Less than a year later the brothers established the Three-C Barbershop directly behind the grill on Morrison Avenue.

It was during this era that the Baptist organization on campus purchased a Victorian home on Wood Avenue directly across from the grill. The new Baptist Student Union was completed c.1962 and produced a marked increase in foot traffic at the iconic Wood/Morrison corner. Business flourished.

Even with its enormous popularity, the Three-C wasn’t always met with smooth sailing. In July 1960, an employee’s brakes failed as she attempted to park on the Morrison Avenue side of the grill, resulting in severe damage to the establishment. Yet, the Carroll brothers persevered, and by the early 1960s branched out, purchasing the former Jiffy Burger location on another triangular corner at Wood and Royal Avenues. They dubbed their newest eatery the Three-C Grill Jr. It boasted a drive-thru window that was perhaps, not counting bootlegger establishments, the only one in the Shoals at the time.

Business continued to be good for all the Carroll brothers’ businesses, and in 1966, they completely renovated the interior of the Three-C Grill adjacent to the college campus. It wasn’t unusual to see classes from Appleby or Gilbert Elementary Schools dining at the grill as a special treat. When plastic first came to the area, the Three-C became one of Florence’s first businesses to accept the innovative Bank Americard (the forerunner to Visa) in 1968.

After the arrival of Hardee’s in Seven Points and similar fast food restaurants in nearby areas, the Three-C Grill Jr. closed in the late 1960s, but the original continued to thrive. Many who remember the small eatery have compared it to Trowbridge’s in popularity and the loyalty of its customers. It’s entirely possible the Three-C would still be serving university students today if the school hadn’t coveted the choice property adjacent to the campus.

In May 1975, the University of North Alabama offered to purchase both the Three-C Grill and Barbershop from the Carroll brothers who accepted the offer. The UNA purchase was ostensibly to create more parking, but the land where the iconic Three-C once sat is now home to signage and landscaping. All that’s left of the Three-C is memories and the faint aroma of once famous hamburgers that many claim still permeates the small corner.

Bette F. Terry holds a BA is history from UAH.