101 N. Dowling Road
Back way before the Harvey Mitchell overpass and before the Holleman expansion, I'd like to tell you about a building on North Dowling.
My earliest memories involve a Shell station, with the older logo (golden shell surrounded with red) and a gray building, with, in capital letters, COUNTRY GROCERY. Between Country and Grocery, there was a circle, but covered up with a withered ad for pet food (I never found out what the circle originally said, though evidence strongly suggests it said LONE STAR FEED). It was far older than I was, existing since at least 1983.
Unfortunately, my parents never went there. Ever. I heard it was because the owners were dishonest (keep in mind that the pumps were not pay-at-the-pump, something I take for granted today), and given the fact it was a convenience store, prices were always higher than a normal supermarket. (Ed: someone on MyBCS says it used to have tasty BBQ in this era)
Eventually, in the late 1990s or early 2000s, it cleaned up dramatically and got a new sign: Barker's Country Store. This was in a "western" font and the sign was white on brown.
Around 2004, however, a few things changed, the store and even the gas station changed hands. By early 2005 (I think?) it was a Summit (with still the red-and-yellow signs) with one of the ugliest signs I had ever seen. It looked like someone had just taped masking tape onto red poster board creating a "JAKE'S FOOD MART".
Jake's was a bust as well. It was noticed that the store was no longer in operation when the gas prices ceased to change with the rest of the town's gas prices.
Around 2006-2007, the property was really cleaned up (repainted light tan, replacing whatever shade Barker's had painted it) and opened as "Shortee's Café", featuring a rather strange chef character. The pumps were torn out and the ground patched (I think the tank's still there). This was short-lived as Shortee's (I don't know if they ever opened the dining area) moved out to Bryan within months, with the building reopened as Travis' Soul Food. This I actually ate at. It was run by these nice old ladies with southern accents...I managed to get a menu (seen below)
Food was served from metal pans that I guess were cooked from the kitchen and served cafeteria-style. It wasn't bad, but that not great either (I had a horrible feeling that I would be throwing up that night from food sickness). In retrospect, it was probably on par with mediocre cafeterias anyway. If it had been more accessible, it would have been popular with the senior citizen population, but that never happened.
Eventually, it reopened as "Living Water Pottery", which is still open and offers pottery lessons. I'm guessing it stays in business due to it being a niche, and they even sell the pottery online at Etsy.
Since the construction of Holleman's extension and the new Harvey Mitchell overpass, Living Water is in a pretty lousy location. But despite that, it still manages to get business. I'm glad that even though that section of North Dowling is no longer viable for retail, it can still stay in business. We leave you with one final picture: the old gas station sign, empty and decaying in the sun:
Updated May 16, 2012, originally titled "A Building on North Dowling", later updated in summer 2013, with a minor update in 2015