Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Culpepper Plaza / Central Station

This post is a "mega-post" of sorts on Culpepper Plaza (later Central Station) which was opened in March 1976 with a Safeway and a full collection of other retail stores. In late 2006, the redevelopment began on the strip, which was looking pretty shabby (Weiner's, Eckerd, AppleTree, and other major stores had all left), and by 2007, parts of the strip were torn down, and assumed its current name at this time.

Burger King (one of the wood-trimmed-interior ones built in the early 1980s, 1719 Texas Avenue) would move out and be replaced by a new Chick-fil-A, the second Chick-fil-A in College Station (that is, if you didn't count the four CFAs at the time on campus--Ag Café, MSC, Underground, Commons--though they were all "Express" locations) and the first that wasn't part of a larger structure (Post Oak Mall, specifically), and also the second stand-alone CFA in the county. Specifically, Burger King would move and replace an old Diamond Shamrock (the classic old green-and-white design, with the helvetica lettering) at Deacon. To this day, that Burger King continues to be the only Burger King in town, while McDonald's has the area well saturated. The strip center was renamed "Central Station", though people rarely call it that (in favor of its original name or "Kohl's shopping center", which is increasingly becoming more common as Culpepper fades into memory).

I also remember a weird hobby shop that hadn't been remodeled since the 1970s that I remember from the very early 1990s. For some reason I remember a bronze interior and it being fairly dark, too? (It was one of my earlier memories of the plaza...)

My original source, beyond some random forum postings, was this Sanborn Fire Insurance map from the 1980s and some poor VHS screencaps (not just taken from a VHS tape, but photographed near the TV--admittedly it's better than nothing--thanks je):

As one can see from the fire insurance map, however, there's a Hastings, Safeway, and a few other restaurants.

In late 2006, the redevelopment began on the strip, which was looking pretty shabby (Weiner's, Eckerd, AppleTree, and other major stores had all left), and by 2007, parts of the strip were torn down. Burger King would move out and be replaced by a new Chick-fil-A, the second Chick-fil-A in College Station (that is, if you didn't count the four CFAs at the time on campus--Ag Café, MSC, Underground, Commons--though they were all "Express" locations) and the first that wasn't part of a larger structure (Post Oak Mall, specifically), and also the second stand-alone CFA in the county. Specifically, Burger King would move and replace an old Diamond Shamrock (the classic old green-and-white design, with the helvetica lettering) at Deacon. To this day, that Burger King continues to be the only Burger King in town, while McDonald's has the area well saturated. The strip center was renamed "Central Station", though people rarely call it that.

Over on Dominik Drive, there's Culpepper Plaza II (later Central Station 2, it didn't get a lot of renovations), which includes "Shop N Go Food Mart" (a convenience store), a tutoring place (college prep), and Centro American Restaurant & Pupuseria (opened 2012, one of my favorite restaurants). Past places included Poking You Tattoo (closed 2011?), Shivers (second location--this added ice cream to the menu), Hair Extraordinaire, and BCS Bicycles (before they moved to University Square).

Today, Central Station is a thriving shopping center but Culpepper Plaza remains largely forgotten.

The hotel and gas station nearby are not part of the center, and will be covered another time.

We have an ad here. It lists Quick as a Flash, which is strange since not even the parking lot is connected. It shows some things I didn't know existed, including a popcorn shop (in the 1990s, there was a bagel shop), Starships & Dragons (comics and collectibles?), and Singer Sewing Center. This must be (in 1988) just prior to Safeway selling out to AppleTree.

Albert's Hair Design, Associated Printing, Barett Shoes, Clothestime, Douglas Jewelry (before moving out to Gateway?), Lease Town (there was one at Manor East Mall in the late 1990s), Lippman Music (moved to Northgate), Luvz Jewelry, Pop's Corn & More (aforementioned popcorn shop), "Stairship" (sic) Hallmark, Suzannes, U.S. Karate, Wyatt's Sporting Goods, University Bookstore, Cow Hop Junction (a spin-off of the Northgate establishment), and a restaurant called "Singapore"...all haven't been mentioned here before.

There's a better list below that I've created from directory listings and others, but it's far from complete--lots of stores and restaurants aren't even on here.

1505A - As far as back as at least the 1990s, this was the local Bennigan's restaurant. I never ate at Bennigan's, but it had an old mural (of the logo, nothing special) facing Texas Avenue. It survived the Central Station remodeling, but it closed in July 2008 when the parent company imploded. Later, it became an AT&T store, which it is today. This was one of the stores on the "smaller strip" and facing Texas Avenue.

1505B - The location of "He's Cafe" today, this has been serving Asian cuisine for years. From the early to mid 2000s to sometime in early 2016, this was Ping's Buffet. In 1996, this was "China Wok Restaurant". In 1989, In 1989, this was "Singapore" or "Steamboat Singapore", which helps date this map I found (referring to a "STMBT SPR."). (H/T to Andrew Y.)

I've always wondered if the two restaurants were one tenant at one time.

1507 - Swensen's use to be here. One of my fondest memories is the inverted ice cream cone resembling a clown face. It lasted until around 2004. It was here when my parents discovered I could read signage at a young age. It was one of the earliest stores, existing as early as 1979 (it gets coverage in the 1979 TAMU yearbook, a two-page spread!). Eventually, it was filled by Firehouse Subs.

1509 - From summer 2009 to late summer 2014, this was the location of Spoons Yogurt (the FIRST Spoons in the chain). It looks like it was part of Swensen's originally (the space, that is). Supposedly, the reason it closed was a failure to renew the lease. That said, Spoons Yogurt's plans for expansion in later years never really took off--under the name "3 Spoons Yogurt", locations opened as far away as Clemson, SC, Lawrence, KS, and Knoxville, TN, but they all failed. Only the locations built in Texas (Huntsville, Waco) did well and remained open. After Spoons Yogurt closed, it was reopened as Galaxy Ice Cream & Bubble Tea (or Galaxy Tea House). Surprisingly, within a year, Galaxy was "sucked into a black hole" and Spoons Yogurt reopened in the space by late September 2015...and from the pictures I've seen of them on their Facebook page, it looks almost identical to how I remember it.

1511 - Current location of the UPS Store. I don't know what used to be here. In 1980 this was "Mother Nature Home of Nutrition"

1513 - It's likely the address was originally on the smaller strip, which some sources indicate as an address for Dollar Tree. Was it originally here before it moved into the larger strip?

1515 - In 1980 this was Godfather's Pizza. It was gone from here by 1989. I can't find any data on it in neither the '96 directory, the 1980s map, nor present-day searching...I believe it was absorbed into 1517.

1517 - This was "Luvz Jewelers" back in the mid-1990s (as for 1515, I can't find ). Luvz wasn't short-lived, it was around in 1988, as seen in the ad in this post. Muldoon's Coffee House opened in 2009 and closed at the start of the fall 2014 semester, the exact same timeframe as the also-missed Spoons. After Muldoon's closed, it became "Eyemart".

1519 - Supercuts. Has been here since at least '96 (if not longer).

1521 - When I was a kid, this was Pancho's Mexican Buffet. Featuring a little guy in a sombrero, Pancho's was a Mexican buffet restaurant. While I can't say too much about the food, it was a wide open area, with a collection of large, creepy "sun masks" hanging above the food. They were traditional Mexican art, but none of them had painted eyes (just holes) and all of them were staring at the customers. As a little kid, these things freaked me out. My sister also had a traumatic birthday here when she was young (with the "singing waitstaff surprise": you should never let a restaurant know it's your birthday, for children or adults). Needless to say, with both her and me traumatized by separate incidents, we never went here again, and it finally went out by the early 2000s or late 1990s. Around 2002, it was replaced with Los Cucos, a much classier Mexican restaurant, though Los Cucos ended up becoming notorious with a string of issues related to the Health Department. It's still open today, they cleaned up their act. I most recently ate here about a year ago, and I didn't get sick. In the 1980s, the space had been carved between two tenants. One of them was Cow Hop Junction, a spin-off of the Northgate establishment. Not sure what the other one was, but the 1980 directory lists "Little Mexico" for this tenant.

1601 - Home of Rosewood Junction in 1980, this was Mama's Pizza in 1989 (relocated from what is now Torchy's). By the late 1990s, this was Bullwinkle's. Bullwinkle's Grill & Bar was located at the very end of Culpepper Plaza, closest to Dominik Road. It's still talked about on MyBCS sometimes.
Later home to Margarita Rocks (a seafood restaurant, in fact), which closed August 2009 (according to Yelp), it was replaced by Katsuya, a Japanese restaurant opened in late 2010 or early 2011 at the end of the strip (lots of vacancies). It had a short life: it got good reviews, but it had a kitchen fire soon after and did not reopen. The sign was soon taken down after about a year.

It's since been reoccupied but it's no longer a restaurant: TITLE Boxing Club is the name of the game and does all the boxing you can't do at the UPS store.

1607 - 1980 directory lists this as "That Place II". I think it was some sort of hair salon. Today it is a salon as well...Apex Salon and Cuttery.

1611 - H&R Block was here in the mid-1990s and still here (there's mostly vacancies in this stretch, have been here for years). Interestingly, 1609 is also listed for H&R Block, so I really don't know which they do inhabit. Serendipity Shop was here in 1980.

1613 - From early 2012 to early 2015 this was Grateful Dog Self-Serve Dog Wash. Despite constantly advertising on TexAgs, I was not sold on the idea of a dog wash place--with all the effort it takes to load a filthy dog into your car and pay someone for use with presumably hoses and soap, why not just use your hose at home? The place officially closed because the owners were moving back to Dallas (if I read correctly) but I may have a theory on the REAL reason it closed...it just wasn't enough to make ends meet. Two years later the space was reopened as Sweet Horse, a "dessert café" with rolled ice cream and bubble tea. Historically, this was once part of (store space-wise) Lewis Shoe Store back in the 1980s (even in 1980). I don't have information on what it was prior to that, I know that it was one of the many vacant stores on that end of the shopping center.

1617 - In the mid-1990s, home to U.S. Black Belt Academy. No info found on the current tenant today.

1619 - Current home to Coach's Liquor. A comment below mentions that this used to be at Highland and Jersey (later George Bush), which I do remember it being there. I always wondered why there was a liquor store when Spec's was down the way. This was Lippman Music prior to 1994 and in 1980 was "Animal World Too" (spin-off of a long-standing Manor East Mall store, which eventually held out onto the very end). Yelp! mentions that the store closed in December 2014 rather abruptly for reasons unknown, and despite the dubiousness of that particular user, the closure is corroborated by the 2015 Google Street View, which shows the note (illegible) and decaying interior (signs fallen down, no open sign, etc.) In October 2017 it reopened as Honolulu Poke House.

1621 - In 1980, this had been listed as "The Seat Cover". Might have been upholstery to cover chairs but I think mostly of toilet seats. Now a State Farm agent (Scot Semple)

1623 - Douglas Jewelry in 1980 and "Triple Crown Sports" in 1996. This was vacant for a while in the revived Central Station but it later became Breezesmokes (styled as breezEsmokes, but whatever), which opened early 2014 or late 2013 (to my knowledge). As of January 2016, it's now Signature Eyebrow Threading (apparently store #4) with no sign of Breezesmokes in that space. It seems like they retreated back to their Waco location (home base).

1625 - American Passenger Travel Agency in 1980 and Linder's High Tech Health in 1996.

1627 - Sandy's Shoes in 1980.

1629 - Aggieland T Shirts in 1980. Seems to be unrelated to current Aggieland Outfitters.

1631 - Originally Hastings (at least back to 1980), which moved circa '98 to the corner of Holleman and Texas Avenue (where it died in 2015). Much of the space it was in is now occupied by P.O.E.T.S. Billiards.

1635 - "No Return" in 1980, which is not the name of a store, but it implies that there was something there once.

1637 - Modern day spot of P.O.E.T.S. Billiards, a pool hall. This survived the renovation. I think it came in around the late 1990s, because my 1993 directory does not list it.

1641 - Wyatt's Sporting Goods in 1980 and "Rick's Sporting Goods" in 1996. Today, the space is still intact, but vacant. It's possible that this was larger in 1996 and not a small storefront like today.

1643 - Painting with a Twist is here today, a "paint-n-sip" studio. In 1980 it was Brazos Valley World of Books Shoppe.

1659 - This was Anna's Linens from the time of the Central Station redevelopment. It takes up half of the old Weiner's. In June 2015, Anna's Linens went the way of Weiner's and closed. It is now Wally's Party Factory as of summer 2016.

1661 - Weiner's from at least 1980 to at least 1996. It was a clothing store. The address and half of the space is taken by Dollar Tree today.

1663 - "Kids Mart" in '96. Modern day location of Cato Fashions.

1665 - Starship Hallmark Shop (a Hallmark store, no relation to Starships & Dragons, it seems) in 1996.

1667 - My 1996 directory scan lists University Book Store Inc., Sew Vac City, and Douglas Jewelers all in one place. Strange considering that the Sanborn Fire Insurance map and the modern day location of Brazos Running Co. shows it isn't very large at all. It used to be Shala's, which closed in 1985. Click for a larger picture, it is pretty small.
This is one of those 1980s clothing stores that went out of business in October 1985. I'm guessing that it died early from the oil bust fallout.

The 1980 directory complicates this by listing Starship Hallmark as 1667 and "A A A House of Curtis Mathes" as 1667b.

1669 - Radio Shack in 1980. Later moved.

1671 - Cato Fashions in 1996, which is still around in a different place. The image above is from a picture pre-redevelopment. In the early 1990s (it closed by '96), it was Colberts. As you can see by the image below, Colberts had some rather outlandish women's clothing. This space was razed for Kohl's. In 1980 it was "Rush R & Co"
...that's for a costume party, right? Right? (1992 ad)

1673 - Radio Shack was here. It closed shortly before the space was torn down for Kohl's. I remember driving here circa 2006 to look for something related to a school project only to find nothing. We ended up going to the mall, which until around the time when ol' RadioShack went bankrupt had one (there's still one in Bryan). In 1980 this was Roseanne's.

1701 - Address of modern day Kohl's.

1703 - One of the shops torn down in the redevelopment, this was The Curiosity Shop in 1980, Career Apparel in 1996 (listed as 1702, that can't be right), and by 1998 Bruegger's Bagels. When it closed, we didn't have a bagel shop anymore. We still really don't.

1705 - "Floppy Joe's Software Store" in 1996. I don't remember this AT ALL, but the comments do. In 1980 it was Top Drawer Pant Company.

1707 - "Right Price" in 1996 and "Regan's Dept. Store" in 1980. Demo'd for Kohl's.

1709 - Eckerd Drugs was an original tenant, lasting from 1976 to at least 1996. Demo'd as well, but it had moved out for some time prior to that. While I'm not sure if Safeway (later AppleTree) had its own pharmacy (it certainly had the space for it), Eckerd was often co-located with the Houston division Safeway stores, sometimes next door. I'm pretty sure that Eckerd did move to 2411 Texas Avenue in 1999, which makes sense chronologically (especially if it recycled its store number, which on the newer store was #382).

1711 - Payless ShoeSource, but died when it was evicted for Kohl's. See the image above (where Cato Fashions was discussed). In 1980, this was the home of Carnaby Square, a women's clothing shop.

1713 - This space has flip-flopped between restaurant use and non-restaurant use. In 1980 it was Trudi's Restaurant (as per the directory) and the spot of Clothestime (in 1996), though this was a CiCi's Pizza in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Post-redevelopment, it was HobbyTown USA (relocated from the Best Buy/Barnes & Noble shopping center) until it closed in January 2016. In June 2016, Nothing Bundt Cakes replaced it.

1717 - FX Video Game Exchange today.

1723 - "Shoe World" in 1996, now Sally Beauty Supply

1725 - Originally also encompassing the modern 1729, this opened as the city's third Safeway supermarket in 1976 and becoming AppleTree in 1989 when Safeway spun off the Houston division. It was my parent's supermarket when they moved into town, but I don't have anything but the vaguest recollections. The AppleTree survived for far longer than the rest of the Houston-based chain of almost 100 stores, as it was one of only six that survived after the company sold off most of its stores in 1993, and it only closed in November 2002 following the opening of the H-E-B down the street, especially since H-E-B trumped it in every category: it was newer, cheaper, larger, nicer, more upscale, et cetera and it was the third to last to close. After it closed, it remained vacant, was extensively renovated on the same footprint when the center was redeveloped (it likely reuses the foundation), and even then the address wasn't re-used until 2012 when OfficeMax moved into the side that Spec's didn't use. To note, this was one of the largest Safeway stores in Texas when it opened. The OfficeMax, store #6501 is currently going out of business as of this writing, presumably so the company can consolidate with the Office Depot down the street.

1727 - Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. This used to be Souper Salad for the longest time. This isn't part of the main strip, this is directly behind the Exxon. Before that, it was 3-C Barbecue.

1729 - Spec's Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods takes up of the old AppleTree and is a newly badged address. This opened in about 2007.

--last update made in November 2017 (1725, 1619, and 1613)


Anonymous said...

I remember eating at Godfather's pizza around 1979/1980. It occupied the last spot in the north end of the building, adjacent to Dominik. Closed in 1990 and the location became Bullwinkle's Pub. Bullwinkle's catered to A&M students and their gimmick was serving beer in yard and half-yard glasses.

In south end of the small building behind the gas station at the corner of Texas and Harvey was a restaurant called 3-C's bar-b-que. Closed sometime in the late 80's. This was their second location. The original location was just south of downtown Bryan between the railroad tracks in the triangle formed by S. Main, Finfeather, and Pease St. It was in a really old quonset hut building. Pretty good bar-b-que as I recall but it's been a while.

Coach's is an old liquor store that has been around for a long time. Didn't realize it still existed. In the late 80's and early 90's it was located in an old gas station in Southgate. I believe it was at the corner or George Bush and Highland where the Aggieland Outfitters building was built.

AggiePhil said...

Firehouse Subs used to be Swensen's.
Sally Beauty and FX Games used to be CiCi's Pizza.
HobbyTown USA used to be Payless ShoeSource.
Dollar Tree and Anna's Linens used to be Weiner's.
POETS used to be Hastings and a couple of the other spaces.
The northeast space was Godfather's Pizza then Bullwinkle's then Margarita Rocks then Katsuya's (briefly), and now vacant.
1727 Texas was 3-C BBQ then Souper Salad, and now Napa Flats.
Mugwalls is out Harvey in Woodstone. Muldoon's is the one at Culpepper.
At one point, there was also a tobacco store (nice humidor) and a bagel place in the center.

Anonymous said...

In the early 80s, around 1982-ish, a place called Games Galore was maybe two shops east of Swenson's. It was full of stand-up video games, and Wednesday's were double-token days, so a buck got you 8 tokens instead of 4. We'd often go to Wyatt's Sporting Goods to get our sports-related gear. 3-C barbecue was popular with some folks and I remember it fondly. Weiner's always had the same smell, kinda stuffy but "new clothes" smelling. I hated going there with my mom because she would take forever and I was bored out of my skull while she looked a clothes. Good place, neat experiences, and a great place to grow up around and be involved with!

Many thanks for the posting!

Anonymous said...

My parents opened Sandy's Shoes in 1977. My mom is Sandy. I used to stock shelves for a couple of dollars an hour and then go over to Hastings and blow it all on records.

Anonymous said...

floppy joe's was a place that rented out mostly pc games and later some console games

with no fancy rent cases, you left with your rentals in a gallon size ziploc baggie full of 3.5's :)

frequented that place quite a bit, a husband and wife ran it, he was going to a&m and believe went on to work for dell, really cool people

a younger guy bought the store(i think he mentioned his grandparents fronting the money), could have been a sign of the times but it did not last after that

Anonymous said...

The College Station indoor smoking ban nearly killed POETS Billiards when it took effect. I remember in the months after the ban took effect, at times the entire place (all the patrons and even the guy playing guitar on stage) would all go outside to smoke at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I remember Games Galore as late as '92 or '93. It was on its way out by then and didn't last any more than a couple of years after that. I also remember Floppy Joe's; my brother and I rented X-Wing from there. I worked at Apple Tree as a high school job. I have vague recollections of a Fox Photo 1 hr film lab in the Culpepper parking lot as well, but I may be off on this. Maybe someone else can confirm or deny this. There certainly was one in that general area somewhere.

Also, does anybody remember when the nearby Whataburger burned down and was quickly rebuilt?