Sunday, April 6, 2014

Played Out

The transitioning of Brazos Buildings & Businesses continues, and check out our continuing transformation of the Texas Avenue page for more, such as mentioning ads and others for things never to be seen on the blog in any form otherwise. Remember, for instance, Dave's Seafood & Steaks, Pop's Barbecue, Redline, Olive Garden, all of which were on Texas Avenue in College Station, or when E-Z Travel Inn had a mascot?

That's all in the new page.

Today, we have a short-lived (2005) establishment on Northgate: PLAY Gaming Café, located on 303 College Main.

Once a Planned Parenthood location a long time ago, this is now a bar, but it's a shame PLAY didn't last longer. The College Main location was tucked out of sight from the main Northgate establishments, and related parking problems didn't help.

Friday, March 21, 2014

H-E-B Pantry and Later, Gattitown

From "Extram" from Wikimapia, because I don't have a picture myself.

H-E-B built its College Station first store in the early 1990s in a time when they were expanding like wildfire across East Texas and Houston area with "H-E-B Pantry Foods". Unlike the full line H-E-B stores, the Pantry stores were small even by early 1990s standards (averaging 20k to 30k square feet) and lacked departments that other stores had, only with a meat counter, produce, and a very small collection (maybe one aisle) of non-food items like HBA (health & beauty aids) and pet items.

It had a facade that looked very similar to the picture below (this is from a shopping center in Houston, but as of spring 2013, the facade was repainted and replaced with a traditional H-E-B logo--I'm sure that the Pantry name has been totally extinct for the last five years or so now)

Unfortunately, since I have no pictures or even directories (I actually had two at one time, but I don't know what happened to them...if I find them, I'll tell you), I'll have to describe it. Instead of parking spaces in front of it like the other stores in the center, it had a large ramp in front of it for shoppers. Inside, it had mid-rising drop ceilings with a few random "Texas" graphics, such as a picture of a bunch of haybales scattered through a field. The produce was in the right side, there were ten check-out stands (with one being an express lane, 10 items or less), a photo developing kiosk, a "bakery" that didn't seem to make anything that fresh (fare was mostly limited to some tasteless bagels).

The three H-E-B Pantry stores in town (this one, and the two Bryan locations--were somewhat unusual, as at least from my knowledge, they didn't move into old stores, as in the Houston area, they were known to inhabit old stores like Safeway.

In 2002, this store closed and was replaced with the massive and modern store across Holleman.

That wasn't the end for the space, though in summer 2003, Gattiland closed its Bryan location and moved into the old Pantry Foods store within the month. Although I was getting too old to be part of the Gattitown demographic by the time it opened, I visited anyway, because it was new, and it was to be the latest in the technology. Gattitown totally rebuilt the facade (the Texas part remained visible from the back, but unless you lived in one of the apartments behind the complex, you could not see it) and removed the ramp in the parking lot, making it smooth. You also had to enter through the sides.

“When we built [the Bryan location] it was the second GattiLand we built,” Moffett said. “This is the latest generation, and it’s going to be more comfortable and fun for every age. From here on out, they’re all going to be GattiTowns.”

This is the sixth restaurant to open under the GattiTown name and “eatertainment” theme, and each is decorated to reflect its community, Moffett said. At the College Station restaurant, an Aggieland Dining Room will be lined with reproductions of Benjamin Knox paintings. The drink station is positioned beneath a mock water tower, and other rooms include a city hall and a mock movie theater.

The game room will occupy the entire back section of the restaurant, but Moffett said adults can find quiet dining areas in a corner cafe and the Library, which will have high-speed Internet connections and five iMac computers for customer use.

Moffett said he plans to hire a full-time marketing employee to promote the restaurant’s meeting space, which is free to use once customers buy a meal. There also are two meeting rooms set apart from the customer traffic flow, and some of the dining rooms have sliding walls that can divide them into smaller spaces.

The "mock water tower" was modeled after by-then defunct old water tower at the corner of Park Place and Texas Avenue, and as for the "Library", I never did find (employees didn't seem to know where it was), but it apparently did exist and was soon converted into another theater room. The midway area wasn't all that better than Gattiland, if anything, it seemed smaller. There wasn't even room for a playground. The old style tokens that Gattiland used was replaced by a card system.

Well, initially Gattitown was a huge success and the parking lot stayed packed every Friday and Saturday night. But as the years wore on, Gattitown started to get competition in the form of Chuck E. Cheese which opened at Post Oak Mall in 2005, and at Grand Central Station, which happened soon after. Chuck E. Cheese did the most damage to Gattitown, with Gattitown's knockoff formula competing with the original, and just like that, Gattitown slid downhill just like its predecessor. It was pretty much exclusively for kids (no classic arcades, or even alcohol) for that matter, and even then stayed pretty empty except for the "Kids Eat Free" nights. In July 2012, Gattitown closed. The pizza was now abysmal (not even fully cooked) and Mr. Gatti's left the area for good after nearly 40 decades of jumping around town.

It wasn't the end of the space, though: in fall of 2013, it reopened as DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse). Despite the fact that the facade of the old Gattitown/Pantry was completely covered up, the design restored the appearance of a retail store, so if you go inside and close your eyes you can almost remember how the Pantry used to be laid out.

2026 S. Texas Avenue

Editor's Note: Thanks for reading! If you want to read more about the businesses of Texas Avenue and help out, read read this post which goes into far more detail than you'd expect, but also discusses things that probably won't receive a post of their own. Dig in!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The "New" Texas Avenue

So I've been pouring a lot more resources into an old post that just used to be a listing of all the posts that dealt with things along Texas Avenue. No more. It's turning into a full-fledged tour of the road and its history, but we need your help.

Check it out here.

Problem is, as much as I want it to be fairly comprehensive, when I've added text, it just seems so DENSE. It needs pictures to break it up, and even then, the dizzying amount of information will get lost. Of course, when I posted last summer, or when I update an old post, that tends to be lost too.

What do you suggest? Add pictures?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Updates Undertaken This Last Week

Hi! Remember me? Thought this website was dead, huh? You thought wrong! I've been updating a lot of stuff behind the scenes. Here's what went on:

March 6th:
- "Before Texadelphia" was updated, elaborating on some less clear things and adding a new former tenant
- Randalls/Albertsons got a huge update with 607 University, completing all restaurants covered in TODR I with new names
- University Square / Legacy Point was updated to mention the change of name of one tenant, the opening of another, and a long forgotten restaurant

March 8th
- This post describing the "cursed restaurant" was updated again
- Two Chinese Restaurants at Brentwood and Texas Avenue (formerly "Tales of Defunct Restaurants VI") is finished
- Describing the end of the Texan is now here
- The Grapevine's page was updated

March 9th
- Full updates on College Main, including some photos and old businesses.
- At Park Place and Harvey was put in
- Dominik Drive updated
- 301 Patricia updated
- University Drive updated
- Ramada Inn updated

However, I should note that this blog is not sustainable in its present, updating form. Let me explain something by that: this blog will not be shut down, but the problem is when I'm updating, I may post something fairly lackluster (like say, an A&M building that few care about) and yet post some neat update (perhaps an ad) so that both end up getting forgotten. People like bite-size stuff these days, with new updates constantly, pictures preferably, and less detailed, catalogued entries that get dozens and dozens of updates.

There will still be a few more entries planned in blog format, and all the ones currently in format will not be altered. However, everything will be incorporated into a larger plan called "On the Road" from, which will include more cities. This includes a "return to form" on some older posts, and perhaps reactivation of them.

All this will come in time, with your host explaining what's up and when it's time to change.