Saturday, January 18, 2020

Kettle College Station

Kettle has since disappeared from the Houston restaurant landscape, but it lives on in College Station. (Photo from August 2016 by author, modified to better show colors)

Over the years, there has been many, many places I've seen that Houston had and College Station-Bryan didn't. If there was any sort of chain in the College Station/Bryan area, then there was one in Houston too. There were exceptions of course, Albertsons had survived nearly a decade after the company pulled out of Houston, and AppleTree did the same. While College Station's Winn-Dixie only lasted sometime around the mid-1990s, Houston didn't even have any Winn-Dixie stores.

This also extends to restaurants. Last year, it was mentioned that Fazoli's no longer has any Houston locations, a result of closings trickling over the last ten years or so. And speaking of ten years, the next stop in the new Texas Avenue is from what I could tell hasn't seen Houston since around 2011, introducing the Kettle, which is the next "stop" on this series. (As this blog is about a decade old, many of the notable places between our last post, O'Reilly Auto Parts, have been covered before, including Exxon, Walmart, Altitude Trampoline Park, BB&T, the former Kmart, Fort Shiloh, and Days Inn).

Kettle #138 at 2502 Texas Avenue South has been around since 1981, built before the Manor House Motor Inn if the dates are right. It's part of a chain that no longer was once based out of Houston where most of its stores were located and had locations out to Florida.

Today, Kettle can be considered what what fellow blogger Zap Actionsdower considers a "broken chain". I've informed the blog about the Kettle, but he's in a different part of the country to check out the humble Kettle restaurant in College Station. There's another Kettle restaurant in Bryan that's a former Denny's, and there were even more in town, up to five in town, including at the site of Northpoint Crossing. There aren't even five Kettle restaurants in the chain anymore.

It's open 24 hours, despite the fairly quiet part of town where it is located. My guess is that the police station's 24/7 operation also keeps the Kettle in business, too, despite mixed reviews otherwise. (After all, for those working the graveyard shift, where else in the area can you get a decent meal at three in the morning?)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

O'Reilly Auto Parts Texas Avenue, College Station

You are now hearing the radio ads for O'Reilly Auto Parts...

Editor's Note: Welcome to 2020! The theme to the next posts I'll be doing on this blog is "Return to Texas Avenue". Here will be additional places missed in the previous posts, with a new index specifically for Texas Avenue coming soon. Additionally, there will be new updates to old posts that will be returned to the index. Stay tuned!

This O'Reilly Auto Parts is at 2831 Texas Avenue South at Morgans Lane, and according to Brazos CAD, built in 2001. The picture above is from me taken in January 2016 (notice there's not any hotels being built behind it), so it's mostly clear blue skies behind it.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Chicks into Stripes

Picture from October 2019.

As we wrap up 2019 for this site, I'd like to share one more story with you. Like Greensworld, this post was supposed to be part of a "Highway 6" series. I was convinced when 7-Eleven bought Stripes from Sunoco, that the Stripes at Briarcrest and Highway 6 would be deemed an outlier and closed. That hasn't happened yet, and as such, it takes the crown of the largest 7-Eleven store in the United States (if it was actually branded as such).

The roots of this super-Stripes (600 North Earl Rudder Freeway) goes back to its roots as a mega-convenience store called Chicks. While its early years are fairly well documented on Yelp, the 12,000 square foot store was supposed to be a Buc-ee's knockoff, to the point where a lawsuit was filed. While Internet armchair lawyers argued that the logo was not a problem, a reveal inside was different, as Chicks had a line of gourmet foods similar in packaging to Buc-ee's, even a version of the sugary "Beaver Nuggets" (basically imagine Cheetos except with caramel coating instead of cheese dust). The lawsuit did force Chicks to change its logo (same shape but just the "CHICKS" name with red, white, and blue) before in 2014, when the store was sold to Stripes. Stripes briefly closed and reopened the store, and liquidated much of the old Chicks store merchandise for its own, and would replace the frozen yogurt counter of Chicks with a Laredo Taco Company (however, Chicks' hamburgers continued to be sold).

One more fun fact: a second (much smaller) Chicks was intended to go in at Highway 40 and Wellborn Road, this ended up being built as a Stripes instead.

Going forward into 2020, I intend to add much less to the site, as much of this year's content (over 40 new posts!) was breaking up existing posts and existing writing. An easy way to check on new updates is to join me on Facebook where updates, new and old, or just a post that I think deserves another look, will be posted.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Hastings College Station

Author's picture, July 2015

Opened in 1998 (from what I can tell from sources/my memory), Hastings was one of the big stores in the unnamed plaza featuring H-E-B Pantry and Gattitown and relocating from a smaller store at Culpepper Plaza. The chain (with the College Station location being at 2004 Texas Avenue South) was the small-town Texas version of the late Media Play, with each store focusing on books and media. There was a large video rental section that took up a quarter of the store (originally videotapes, but eventually transferred over to DVD). The video rental section would also keep multiple copies of the latest movies to hit the video market, with some good deals on those DVDs when they downsized their collection to one or two. There was a small books section (nothing like the selection of Barnes & Noble, or even Waldenbooks in the mall), as well as music, movies, and video games. Later on (maybe 2007), the Hardback Coffee Café was added as Hastings changed their logo. By the time this store closed in August 2015 (the Tejas Center location went approximately a year later when the chain went bust), the store focused more of their merchandise on Funko Pops and other novelties.

After being renovated inside and out, the store reopened as Havertys Furniture.