Saturday, January 28, 2012

Target College Station

2100 Texas Avenue South

We have talked about Kmart (which is gone). We talked about Walmart (which is still there). And now we get to Target.

The Bryan Target opened one day and 16 years after the College Station Target, and we are not talking about the Bryan Target today (and as for the Bryan Wal-Mart, we might that eventually, if only in passing)

Well, the Target in College Station (T-800) opened in July 22, 1992 and has only been remodeled once, around 2005-2006 or whereabouts (I don't remember when). I do remember the old store, though I'm glad I had a few memory jogs since then (including a visit to a two-story yet unrenovated Target, a few pictures of a Target of that vintage, a visit to a Kmart, and this excellent blog post [contains language]).

Well, unlike that link shared in Dumpy Strip Malls, which showed the interior of an early 1990s Target, this store looked different. There was still aluminum hand railings near the check-outs, a rather unimpressive in-store eatery, a store that smelled like popcorn (what's wrong with that?), but the signage was colorful, with large signage directing you to different parts of the store, with arrows and red/blue/green/yellow signage on the departments and signage to them (a "department signage example" here, though it's an old one). In fact, the whole store had these red/green/blue/yellow neon strips around the store. You can see a glimpse of that at Southridge Mall, Des Moines, Iowa, which opened the same day as the College Station one and delightfully hadn't renovated yet, so you can see that from inside the storefront (Sadly, it has since been remodeled). You might also find better pictures if you do some Flickr digging, but that's on your own time.

The store wasn't all that different from the one that's there now: the store was a different color on the outside (whiter) and the departments were arranged differently, with a different merchandise mix. I know the electronics were toward the front of the store, near where the pharmacy is (I remember that the Dreamcast games were closest to the front wall) and that the foods section (very different back then, mostly just chips, candy, and soda) was near the checkout stands. Regrettably, I can't remember much more than that (unlike the Wal-Mart, which only changed its departments more recently--plus I went to Wal-Mart a LOT more than Target). I remember the dressing rooms hadn't changed all that much (a bit nicer), the food area renovated, and the water fountains were finally cool (that's what bothered me about the old store: the water at the fountains was always warm). I remember the systems at the Customer Service desk advertising baby registry or Club Wedd...those didn't change too much (except for flat screens).

The toy section was in the far right back section of the store.

The post-remodel store, which finished by 2006 boasted a huge food section (this was before the P-Fresh model, so it lacks things like pre-packaged fruits and meats, and certainly things that SuperTarget would have) which added dozens of foods adorned with brand names and the Archer Foods name (Target's house brand). It even added milk, which Target lacked before (Wal-Mart always had it)

I don't know what it replaced, though I think it was some hardline goods that Target no longer carries (like gardening supplies or automotive--or they just shrunk the categories in everything else), and that's one of the reasons I don't like Target as a discount store, the small selection of hardlines, and the fact that the quality of some items aren't much better than Walmart's (take my advice, don't buy analog clocks at Target). Later on, Target did some more updates, like updating signage.

One final memory: when I was younger, there was some little glass display that appeared around Christmastime, with some sort of thing that spun around to the bottom. It had lots of fake "snow" and I think it was some sort of mini-Christmas village. Anyone remember it, know what I'm talking about? No?

Updated 2015

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Development!

They, being the City of College Station Planning commission, released the list of new things coming to town!

Let's take a look.

Great Oaks Phase 1A: Still stuck in Phase 1A, Great Oaks is adding three new homes. The reason it's still in 1A was an ambitious (and evil) plan to map out that entire area with high-density townhomes and dump traffic into nearby neighborhoods (instead of major streets).

The Plaza at College Station: The final name of the Plaza Hotel redevelopment ("Plaza at College Station", really? "Lofts" would've been better)

The Barracks II: Apparently The Barracks is going back all the way to Haupt Road.

Wolfies: Another chain restaurant. Anyone heard of this place?

Old Arrington Road: Abandonment! It looks like that that torn-up section may get the axe.

Cottages of College Station: 3.5 acres? 3400 Market Street? Looks like that mysterious unmarked area to the northwest of their plan will be retail after all! They even referred it as "Market Street", like the original Holleman extension PDF (from early 2009, no less) referred it as!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Special Services Building

Besides the rare snow, I couldn't find a picture of this building that wasn't decades old.

Does anyone remember the Special Services Building? It was just north of Haas Residence Hall in the northwest part of campus, and from data on the Internet, razed in fall 2001. (It sits about where the basketball courts of the Hullabaloo Residence Hall now stand).

Unfortunately, we have little information of this building. It was at least three stories tall and references on the Internet mention offices being located there. But what was it? "Special Services" is a rather vague term: I've heard it had laundry facilities, but that's about it.

The main reason for demolition I remember it had creaking floors: so bad that it was deemed structurally unstable, with the furniture being abandoned.

However, the "Special Services Building" reportedly dates back to 1914 according to this TAMU chronology. Is that right? I mean, most of the buildings back then were made primarily of wood and would've been demolished by the 1960s or 1970s, and it would be a miracle that the SSB survived for that long.

Fill us in, because I know that I'm missing something. (EDIT 2015: Thank you! See the comments)

Updated May 22 2013 with picture and new categories, and again in 2015 to add a caption.

Friday, January 20, 2012

[Side Stories] The Terrible Food at Blinn

Removed from Index 2019, still thinking of what to do with it

Texas A&M University Dining used to be great: there's dozens of cool places to eat: there's a Chick-fil-A in the Underground food court, the all-you-can-eat offerings at Sbisa, the baked goods and coffee at Poor Yorick's Coffeehouse in the library, and dozens of others. There's even a few full "Rattler's" convenience stores that offer a wide selection of slightly overpriced, delciously unhealthy goodies. Of course, since the Compass takeover, all these have deteriorated, but it's still edible.

However, at Blinn, where I spent three semesters, that was not the case. There were exactly four (later five) places where you could get any food at all: there was the lobby of the library, where there were vending machines, a college bookstore that had a small selection of convenience items, and two no-name places in the Student Center: "Clux Delux" and "Block & Barrel". These establishments claim to provide a healthy alternative to fast food. A&M offers healthy alternatives to fast food, these places provided alternatives to edible food. Block & Barrel claimed to be a "deli", but all they had was pre-packaged sandwiches made at an unknown time and wrapped in plastic. These were soggy. There were also pre-packaged items that could be microwaved in-house, but they weren't very good either. Clux Delux was even worse. Although the franchise made it look a bit like a poor man's Chick-fil-A, but it wasn't. It was cafeteria food, sitting under heat lamps, which gave it a very unappealing look. And this wasn't cheap, either: $6.50 got you chips and a drink, but it wasn't worth it at all.

Later on, "Maui Wowi" opened, and offered smoothies and coffee. It was name-brand, but didn't offer that much besides smoothies and coffee.

The other option was a food truck that came on certain times, on certain days of the week. While they are award winning and have awesome food, they're way too expensive and come at too odd a time to be a reliable lunch option.

Unsurprisingly, most people never ate lunch at Blinn, with people only going to the places because they were desperate.

But I remember, way back when Blinn was opening the Student Center building, it had real food, one of which was a Taco Bell (I suspect the other was a Yum! Brands restaurant). Indeed, underneath the cheap banners of CD and B&B, you could see holes drilled in where the restaurant signs once were.

So, if you're going to Blinn, whether a Blinn student or a Texas A&M student, I suggest you avoid any classes near lunchtime at Blinn.

updated June 2013

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tales of Defunct Restaurants at 1045 South Texas Avenue

Kerri's in better days. Sorry for the terrible scan and image quality, but this is what I have.

Back in 2012, instead of publishing articles on individual businesses, I made the wrong idea of dumping several restaurants into a single post called "Tales of Defunct Restaurants", which became a series. Initially, this contained a variety of other restaurants now covered elsewhere, namely Tuscany's, Yum Yums Texas Style, and Fort Shiloh Steakhouse, explaining the discrepancy in the comments below.I did update the post a few times since (though when I did that is lost to time) to add a picture of, and expand on, the restaurant that was last in the original building before Raising Cane's took it over...Kerri's Stacked Enchiladas.

But let's go back to the beginning, or at least the beginning as I can find it.

Built as a branch of California-based Sambo's (which had over 1000 in 47 states at its peak), the restaurant originally opened March 1974, replacing empty land. But in the early 1980s, Sambo's imploded. With mounting criticism from its name and theme by politically correct groups and problems stemming from a massive expansion, it filed for bankruptcy in 1982 and closed.

No restaurant appeared to be in place by the time the 1983 phone book was published.

In 1987, Wings 'n Things opened up by Mark Dennard. Apparently, this was related to the Houston-based Wings 'n Things as a franchise (or of the same corporate parent, seeing as how WnT opened the same year but for whatever reason, it fell through and Dennard renamed his restaurant in College Station to Wings 'N More soon after. It looks like it was founded at 2711 Fountainview, which was a Wings 'N Things just until this (re)writing in January 2017.

Sorry, isn't working.

I can't find a lot of details on the split, or how much Mark Dennard was involved in Wings 'n Things, but apparently it did happen and the restaurant was renamed. Mark Dennard never opened very many other Wings 'N More stores (one in The Woodlands, one in south College Station in toward the late 1990s) but was able to franchise Wings 'N More in Houston (where Wings 'n Things was based), and those restaurants later became BreWingz as that spun off.

In 2002, this location of Wings 'N More moved out to a modern location at University Drive East and Highway 6, where it remains today, but it wouldn't remain closed for much longer. In 2003, a new local restaurant replaced it, Kerri's Stacked Enchiladas. Despite a strong start,
including winning Best New Restaurant in Best of the Brazos 2003 and Best Southwest Texas Cuisine a year later, it folded by 2005.

It made no changes to the outside of the old Wings 'N More, and from what I've heard, not much to the inside, either (except adding some new Aggie memorabilia). The logo was a semi-provacatively-dressed brunette (wearing one a torn shirt that was basically torn and twisted into a short top) holding a plate.

Open from 11am to "late", this is what the Dining Guide of 2004 had to say on the matter. Keep in mind that since I haven't heard great things about Kerri's in retrospect and this was written by the restaruant, chances are high that parts of this paragraph are blatant lies (already I see that they must have forgotten Kokopelli's, and the full paragraph is as follows:

The Brazos Valley's first Southwest restaurant has already been recognized among the very best restaurants in the entire Brazos Valley! Our unique stacked enchiladas are made fresh from scratch daily --topped with the freshest produce in town! At Kerri’s we also boast the best Fajita Stacks in town and offer a diverse menu sure to please everyone, from healthy choices like veggie quesadillas, veggie stacked enchiladas, stack house salads to main stay favorites such as ribeye steaks, chicken fried chicken, southwest lasagna, burgers and much much more. The desserts alone are worth the trip to Kerri’s. We have catered many special area events such as weddings, receptions, concerts, business luncheons and dinners, numerous city council meetings and an array of late night party events. Consider Kerri’s for all of you catering needs -- we will deliver to the location of your choice, or reserve our spacious dining and stage area or huge outdoor patio. Kerri’s has the freshest food in town at the most reasonable price. Go see for yourself why Kerri’s was voted Best New Restaurant in the Brazos Valley! While you’re here relax and enjoy our full service bar and ask your server how to get a
"soon to be famous"

All that disappeared by 2005 when Kerri's closed down. After the restaurant closed, someone made some sort of bizarre Pac-Man graffiti on the roof, with (illegible) names next to Pac-Man and the ghost. I'm not sure what they meant, but with the highly visible graffiti, a nearby dead Mobil (which closed in about 2004), and the closed Texaco down from it, by mid-2005 it contributed to a feeling that the stretch from University to George Bush just started feeling really run-down.

By January of 2006 (according to TexAgs archives, and sounds right in my memory), the building was torn down and a Raising Cane's was put in its place by summer. Raising Cane's actually has the date the store opened (June 2006) along with a little blurb about it. I wish more chains did that...that's really cool. You can see a picture of the building here that I took in May 2014.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rosemary Drive and the Beverly Estates

I love rosemary. It's native to Texas (in dry, scrubby areas), tastes good on chicken, and quite flavorful.

This post used to focus on Rosemary Drive, but I found that I really didn't have enough to write a good post, so I shelved what was here.

Why don't you look a bit down the road, at the old Plaza Hotel?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Next Great Thing

Out of date. Congratulations on finding this!

It's 2012, and College Station-Bryan is still here. We hope that when College Station took over Wellborn, they did allow fireworks to some extent, as we all know how cities hate fireworks. I had a great time with them, and Zippers are awesome.

But today, we're talking about the Next Great Thing in College Station-Bryan. And by "great", I mean "big", but it could be great. We've all heard about TAMU's "Health Science" corridor, but I feel that's mostly hype and will probably bring way more traffic for our poor little roads to hold comfortably, with the traffic resembling Houston-normal traffic, or a brutal "redevelopment", like turning Hopes Creek Road into a highway. Or something.

Or for all we know, TxDOT could announce a toll highway that would upgrade 71/21 to a toll highway, connecting Austin and College Station to Interstate 45 (it COULD happen, though that would carry lots of negative consequences).

Or it could just be a new big box store. College Station has both The Home Depot and Lowe's, could we see a Home Depot for Bryan? (I've heard rumors for a second Bryan Walmart, could happen)

Or perhaps the long-awaited Westinghouse site redevelopment?

Maybe Holleman Drive South will be home to new retail, offices, restaurants and parks, bringing the city to the western residents before it becomes a student wasteland (if it hasn't already).

This may be the year we get to see the Plaza Hotel imploded for that new redevelopment we were promised.

This year may mean anything: we'll see what happens as the year progresses.