Monday, July 4, 2016

Leaning Tower Pizza / Primo Pizza / My Daily Bread Bakery

Primo Pizza in better days, September 2013


Originally I was going to rewrite my old Eastgate page, but then I figured I could easily rewrite it into several posts, not to mention it was several years since I did anything with it.

109 Walton, from my records, seems to have been food related for most of its life. "Wing Zone" was here in the early part of the 2000s, records indicate, and during the 1990s it was home to Partners Food Delivery. My personal experiences deal with the current tenant and the two before it. First, there was Leaning Tower Pizza, which if I recall was here since the mid-2000s. It was an interesting place, with a particularly greasy pie with a unique cheese pizza. It was also pretty grimy for a College Station restaurant, but I didn't mind because that's why you have pizza...hot enough to kill any dubious bacteria. It had some garden furniture for an "eat-in" area and had "free delivery" that had a significant discount if you picked it up in store, which means it wasn't actually free at all.

Well, for whatever reason, Leaning Tower closed in spring (May) 2013. Luckily, it was said on MyBCS that Charles Stover, fresh from creating Flip & Peel at Post Oak Mall, had bought the store and recipes and would reopen with a new name and theme. Well, that didn't quite happen, and instead in late summer 2013, Primo Pizza & Rolls opened with an entirely new concept of gourmet takeout pizza, which included pesto on every slice (this opened in late summer 2013). Unfortunately, gourmet takeout pizza without an eat-in area wasn't something the market could handle (especially located in a neighborhood that was populated by college students and minorities) and Primo shut down in February 2014 due to underperformance, but the way it was worded indicated that the closure could be temporary. After all, the sign remained up. But in May 2014, new pictures revealed that the restaurant was gutted. (One more thing regarding Primo: Primo Pizza's webpage, archived in PNG form)

While an Eastgate pizza place was no more than a memory, it did have one more tenant afterwards that opened by fall. This is still open today...My Daily Bread Bakery. This was one of my favorite places in my neighborhood when I lived on Eastgate, cinnamon rolls for breakfast if I was running late for school, decent coffee and espresso, and even (though I don't know about it today), a selection of used video games (from her husband) for sale, where I bought Pikmin and I believe Metroid Prime. I haven't made much progress in either, or you would see it in Carbon-izer GAMES, my "game review" page.

Here are a few other pictures that I took in May 2014 after the restaurant was gutted.

Gutted PP, May 2014
Gutted PP, May 2014. This is where the counter and menu were. The kitchen was behind that wall. This configuration was intact for both LTP and PP&R.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Handy Burger / The Onion Ring / The Deluxe / Chimy's Cerveceria

Chimy's sign looks kind of cool at night, but no picture of that, sorry (December 2015)


This restaurant, best known to me as the Deluxe Diner, always had a bit of a special place in my heart, even if I never went there. It was the first thing I saw besides the late Dulie Bell Building if we were going down the ramp from Wellborn, plus it was always featured in a little "menu booklet" that the George Bush Library had in their early days. It started as a hamburger restaurant called the Handy Burger, which was the first place in town to have a microwave for food use. Eventually, this became a restaurant called "The Onion Ring" (which picked up a well-known nickname probably more common than the REAL name of the restaurant).

Later, the restaurant was remodeled and became "The Deluxe Burger Bar" (renamed The Deluxe Diner sometime later).

Deluxe Diner menu from better days (c. 1998), note that this is not the full menu

The shuttered Deluxe Diner, Google Street View (c. 2007)
The Deluxe Diner closed in 2006 (that I know for sure) but by that time was in a state of huge decline (food was terrible, management was even worse). Despite having some period diner pieces inside (though the exterior had been modified since the Handy Burger days), the building started to rot and mold until 2012 when most of the restaurant was demolished save for a few walls and was rebuilt into Chimy's Cerveceria, which opened in January 2013. I've never eaten there, based on reports of overpriced food and what I've seen myself (long, cafeteria-like tables). That was disappointing, as I'd been wanting some decent Tex-Mex in Northgate, not a bar. Rest assured, though, with the opening of Torchy's Tacos when I lived at Eastgate, I no longer thought of Chimy's as a wasted opportunity.

So there you go. The tale of one of College Station's oldest restaurant sites in one post. Sorry for the absence as of late...I'll be wrapping up several more of the posts here with one more for the memories.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pooh's Park, Tinsley's, and Others Replaced by a Shopping Center

View of the center today


Once again, we come back to one of our blog, this time to roll a few smaller posts into a bigger one. As the picture above shows, the area at Holleman and Texas Avenue is now a large (kind of low end) shopping center. In addition to covering all the changes that went on there (which I have yet to do), I can combine a few older posts into this one. So, first, we have Pooh's Park at 1907 Texas Avenue South.


There's far more to Pooh's Park (no, not related to the "Winnie" one) I can get into today, because it's a popular topic on local nostalgia threads: if you want to learn more, you can head over to Facebook to talk or browse through old photos (and they include newspaper articles!)

I never got to experience Pooh's Park myself, but from what I've seen and read, it was like Chuck E. Cheese, Putt-Putt, and a skating rink (roller, not ice) all wrapped into one. It opened in 1972 and was where the shopping center where Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, and Ross are now. I would like to say that Pooh's Park remained open until it became too valuable to remain (and was getting run-down anyway) and closed in the early 2000s, but no, that's not the case (it is very similar to a certain defunct theme park that closed about a decade ago, though). It closed in by 1989 (at that point, the phone book no longer lists it) and only the sign remained up (with the logo of the yellow dog they had, and not the one pictured above, and the name gone) until around the time they built the shopping center in the early 2000s, and then remained up until a little while afterward.

A 1984 phone book has a different ad that does mention things like a water slide (408 feet) and a different address (at some point, they changed to 105 Holleman, though based on what you can see from Google Earth, and backed up by a picture of Texas Avenue from a local history book I don't have a copy of with me) is that Pooh's Park was accessed through Texas Avenue, not Holleman.

Google Earth 1995, with modern streets overlaid


Some older maps (circa 2001-ish, long after Pooh's Park bit the dust) put a "Pooh's Lane" roughly where the Bahama Buck's is now, but unless that first part of Holleman Drive East was actually called that (after all, there's a few things that do support that, including the odd alignment of Holleman Drive and Holleman Drive East suggests that the East part was first, and then Holleman Drive extended that way later by way of a particularly awkward curve, or the fact that the subdivision nearby (behind the strip center and the other businesses on the east side) is named Pooh's Park Subdivision.

Sharing the address with Pooh's Park (at least the original address) was one "Furniture Liquidation Mart" which closed in October 1985 (The Eagle), and I would guess that this is what Bahama Buck's replaced (it used to be the foundations of another building). It should be noted, though, my 1984 phone book doesn't list it.

Near Pooh's Park was Tinsley's Chicken 'n Rolls.

Chicken done well, chicken well done!

Opening in late 1979, Tinsley's was located on 1905 Texas Avenue but was closed by 1989 after the Tinsley family sold out to Church's, which would eventually close or convert the restaurants (I don't think this restaurant was ever converted). Later, it was Kokopelli's (by 1998), and soon after, the Clay Oven (by 1999), a quick-serve (cheap!) Indian restaurant. This location, unfortunately, was razed for the shopping center, but Clay Oven was already closed by then. I have no actual pictures of what the building looked like in reality, nor do I remember Clay Oven being there at all. Sad, isn't it?

The plane was a real thing, though, David Tinsley used an actual 1930s plane to promote his restaurants, not unlike how Flying Tomato used hot air balloons.

While the "Boss Bird" made a brief appearance in Huntsville (after a long period of total absence), it is now closed (now a Hartz Chicken Buffet). It wasn't particularly to die for (although I think the "dried out chicken" complaints were an over-exaggeration, at least from what I saw in my visit).

There were a few other places on Holleman that later disappeared beyond Jot 59 (see picture), though one of them was a quick-lube auto place (name escapes me).

So anyway, all that was torn down for the shopping center (University Shopping Center, the name of which wasn't promoted), which opened around 2003 (after the H-E-B, I remember), with many of the stores it has today (Hobby Lobby, Shoe Carnival, Ross Dress for Less, Petco). Hobby Lobby moved from their old location at Post Oak Square, with the others being new. There was a branch of Loupot's, CiCi's (which came a few years later, as the old Culpepper Plaza was partially demolished), and a Goody's Family Clothing.

Goody's would close in early 2009 as the chain went under, but it was replaced with a few new stores, Big Lots (returning back to the market, as by that time, their old location at the former Kmart had been closed for several years) and a Twin Liquors (which, despite slightly nicer d├ęcor, seemed like a smaller, inferior competitor to Spec's).

Another shopping strip was built around the same time as the rest (but named The Shops at Wolf Pen Plaza) with Starbucks Coffee, a Sprint store (which initially had the older logo), and Champion Firearms (moved from the Kroger shopping center).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Loupot's Building

Loupot's in 1995. (PH)


Prior to when College Main was closed off (June 19th 2012, a day that will live in infamy), it was the only block which was resembled a dense city in College Station. And sitting on the corner of this block was Loupot's (335 University Drive), which closed the same year (in March). One of the oldest establishments on Northgate and once the "official" bookstore on campus, Loupot's had been around for years, though from what I've read, it wasn't always in the building, and when it was, it wasn't in both levels.

From what I've found, it wasn't bought by Loupot until 1979, and in the past, Loupot's was named "Loupot's Trading Post" and "Loupot's Books & Britches". The upper level was added in the 1980s not too long after the building was bought, as that had been the previous home of an X-rated bookstore (The Adult Library, though I read an ad that mentioned it being the home of "Sun Theater", same business, different name). Some ads I had found (but sadly don't have a copy right now) mentioned that they had shows for a quarter (and escorted ladies were free), which was around in the 1970s and 1980s. This had an address of 333 University. The adult theater was upstairs at 333 University, with Loupot's downstairs. At some point, they eventually closed and Loupot's ultimately would expand upstairs.

Anyway, Loupot's managed to expand to a few different locations, namely a location in Southgate (now home to TexAgs) and in a location at Holleman and Texas Avenue (now Salata). These closed shortly after the Northgate location. A fourth location was planned (according to a sign) to the grassy area just north of Blinn College on Villa Maria (where Blinn later added more parking). Loupot's continued to maintain its large store on Northgate, which later upgraded to electronic signage and made Internet history with its "reverse-boarded up windows" in 2005 (around the time of Hurricane Rita). However, in 2010, the family sold to Nebraska Book Company (Neebo), which already owned the Traditions bookstores (formerly Rother's), and then they started closing stores. The Loupot's-branded stores went away in 2012, but eventually, their other stores (Southgate, University Square, and one closer to Blinn at Briarcrest and Villa Maria) closed as well.

One of their last messages on the message board was "HOLY CRAP!!! TEXTBOOK RENTAL SALE!!!", which always felt a bit tasteless due to the mild swearing but that distracted from the fact that if they're selling rental textbooks, they're probably going under.

The former Loupot's in 2013.



It would be great to see the Loupot's on Northgate resurrected as The Loupot's Building and maybe get something decent or two in there, and not a bar: maybe dividing it into restaurants and shops, except the landlord is too stingy to do so. It was to become a place called Z Bar & Bistro, which made me hope it was something better than The Corner across the street (sticky chairs and tables, smells like old beer constantly, poor service), though it eventually fell through.

As of early 2016, there appears to be some work going on at Loupot's. It will probably be a bar, but it's better than an empty building, right?