Thursday, May 30, 2013

Seafood Mama's / Yum Yums Texas Style / Oxford Street / Steak & Ale

From Stalworth Online, during its days between Oxford Street and Yum Yums


1710 Briarcrest Drive

Beginning as an outlet of the late Steak & Ale (initially unknown when I published this post but confirmed via a mid-1980s dining guide), this former restaurant was best known as Oxford Street from some point in the late 1980s (see comments) until it closed in September 2008. It's unfortunate that I don't have more information on Oxford Street than I currently do, but it was a moderately-priced steakhouse (not to Republic or Christopher's levels) featuring "candlelight dining featuring steaks and seafood in an Old World setting" according to the 2004 Dining Guide.

Oxford didn't stay shut for long, as it was soon replaced with a restaurant called "Yum Yums Texas Style". Already there's problems with that: if it looked like a four-year-old named it, you'd be right. There used to be an article on The Eagle, dated March 2009 titled "Yum Yums owner gets back to roots with eatery", which a lot of the following is derived from (the link is now dead). The restaurant opened with the goal of "upper-end", homemade-style food, but it wasn't to last. The name had problems and unfortunate connotations which were called out in comments, with few defenders. It closed in less than a year. By all accounts from the brief time Yum Yums was on this earth, there were very few things to say. There's a scathing review on Yelp that blasted the food (the employees were nice, but that couldn't save it). One review from YellowPages.com (a "kelsey27") blasted it with "this place is totally DISGUSTING... FOOD SUCKS, STAFF SUCKS" and also the contractor was never paid for work done to renovate the restaurant (this is supported independently by third parties). Interestingly, on the original The Eagle article, there was a comment, and this is unaltered:
I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW RUDE YOU PEOPLE ARE BEING TO A FAMILY THAT IS BRINGING REVENUE AND OPPURTUNITIES TO OUR TOWN! GET OVER YOURSELVES AND GO EAT SOME GOOD FOOD. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HOW WELL THIS RESTAURANT DOES~

I'm guessing this person was the owner, or at least a close family friend.

Seafood Mama's opened in December 2011, painting the whole building a dark blue color and offering seafood and other items. Never went to Seafood Mama's, as it had very mixed reviews (Yelp's "Greg D." gave it five stars, which may or may not have been faked) but that couldn't be helped, as in late June of 2012, the restaurant was gutted by a fire and it did not reopen. By fall, it was razed. For several years afterward (at least as of early 2015, though I didn't notice it on recent drive-bys, so it might be gone), the Seafood Mama's roadside sign remained up. Will anything ever be built there again? Maybe.

(Post Updated 1/16)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Older Shell at Harvey Mitchell and Villa Maria

Because it was taken out the car window, it reflected my shirt. Oops.


1439 W. Villa Maria Road

I snapped a few pictures of this gas station recently. First off, it's old, from circa 1988 (or says the anonymous comment from Stories of the West Loop), and while I do remember it was a Zip'N, I don't remember the other tenant (I don't remember the "music/drum shop" but dry cleaners sounds more plausible). In any case, the basic history of this place includes the following: in 2003-2005, it DID in fact remain a Shell (from the older design) without forcing an upgrade of the property. It also didn't originally front 2818 as it does now: it exited onto a power line right of way, which was unpaved and just dumped you on back on Villa Maria. The snow cone/smoothie shack was there as long as I can remember, and the convenience store became "Villa Express" around 2006-2007, which in the first picture is quite faded.

The other shop that's there is "Xtreme Hitz", a clothing store. According to Facebook they opened in March 2012 (but I never saw them going to summer classes at Blinn that summer), so maybe they opened in October. They appear to carry hip-hop related clothing and clubwear. In any case, I don't remember anything in my travels about a clothing store co-habitating with a gas station (mostly banks, restaurants, and aforementioned dry cleaners).

Recent trips have indicated, however, that the signs are gone and they are re-doing the exterior (the weathered red-and-yellow on the sign front remains, however). Speaking of weathered things, the Shell has had for years a billboard near the Exxon at La Brisa announcing the prices. Over the years, I've sadly watched the prices climb (and the sign fade, get repainted, and fade again).

Today's "updated old post" involves Madden's Street Cuisine, which features a new photo.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Northgate Chevron

She cleans up nicely. There's even a canvas-covered area on the University side for the taco truck that hangs out here.

301 University Drive

When I went to college at A&M in the early 2010s, I always had seen this strange pile of bricks on the corner of where a run-down gas station sat and wondered what, if any, grander building was once there. Turns out, there wasn't one. There has always been a gas station structure here since the 1970s or 1980s, and before that, it was a residential house with a yard. Below you can see the area circa 1961 from Historic Aerials (as is prominently printed on the screengrab). You can see the building that houses The Backyard (originally residential, actually), along with the present-day Dixie Chicken (before it expanded), the present-day Dry Bean Saloon, Bottlecap Alley when it was wider (making it an actual usable alley and not a trash-filled, urine-soaked walkway labeled as a tourist attraction), and of course, the Campus Theater. It's a shame that most of the residential houses on Northgate had to go, converting them ALL to bars and restaurants would have made for a much more aesthetically interesting area, much how Montrose in Houston used to look like.

Sometime around the late 1960s or early 1970s, the house was torn down and a Philips 66 gas station was built, but after that things got a bit murky. In the very late 1970s it was enclosed to be a bar. Two of the comments from the older version of this page seem at end with each other: "Around 1979-80 the owner enclosed the old service bays, remodeled and turned it into the Thirsty Turtle" and "I bought the Thirsty Turtle and remodeled it and reopened it as the 12th Man & Co. in 1978. The Thirsty Turtle was indeed a bar. It had a small but loyal clientele. Some of them actually blamed me for closing the Turtle and were somewhat threatening at times. But we got opened and survived until Texas changed the drinking age laws."

Others seem to remember 12th Man & Co. came first. Regardless, sometime during the mid-1980s (likely 1986, which would make sense with the "drinking laws" time frame) the building was torn down for a gas station again, a Citgo with a 7-Eleven (as Citgo and 7-Eleven built stores together in that era). In the spring of 1993, the 7-Eleven name vanished from the area as they were sold to E-Z Mart (by this point, the stores in Houston had also since been sold to National Convenience Stores where they obtained the Stop N Go name).

While I'm sure E-Z Mart still had the Slurpee machines (until they all broke like the rest of the former 7-Eleven stores in town), over time, the E-Z Mart just got more and more run-down, with the nickname "Sleazy Mart"which kept the Slurpee machines for a while, but even that didn't last. It picked up the name "Sleazy Mart" and just got worse from there (though to be fair, it was in very close to proximity to the bars). The earliest reference I could find is from this 2004 posting but who knows how far it really goes back.

By the time I got to A&M, the E-Z Mart name had disappeared, having sold their stores to other owners around the mid-2000s (I seem to remember the Citgo at Southwest Parkway and Wellborn became Zip'N around 2004, but don't quote me on that). The store had been renamed to "Aggie Food Mart" but A&M's lawyers don't want private businesses using "Aggie" or "A&M" for anything anymore, so it was just removed. The canopy was literally falling apart, the pumps didn't really work properly, and there was a trash-filled alley in the back where a faded mural was (now painted over), but I imagine that it was probably meant to be used for additional retail adjoining the 7-Eleven. Today that space (space is valuable in Northgate) is just wasted.

Sad thing is, ALL the gas pumps had looked like that.

The Boyett stoplight installed in summer 2012 made the intersection a more prominent "entrance" to Northgate (compared to the east side of Northgate, where large attractive campus buildings co-mingle with fast foods and the Rise at Northgate) just made the eyesore intersection more obvious, sharing it with the ruined Campus Theater across the street.

Sometime around 2016, things started to change. The Citgo branding completely disappeared and the gas station went unbranded for a time as it morphed into a Chevron, and finally, came the "Gig'Em Food Mart" name, complete with a shiny new Chevron canopy and pumps (interestingly, this came right at the time as the Southgate Chevron lost its branding), but I haven't been inside since they redid it since I have no idea if it's just window-dressing or the inside was done as well. You know, I kind of hope that perhaps that Stripes buys it (before the deal closes with 7-Eleven) so that perhaps it could become a 7-Eleven once again.


Updated 7-30-17: Reports of this being a Chevron (originally) were false, that has been changed. Some new information on post-Philips 66 was added. New photo was added. New title (formerly "Citgo Gas Station, Northgate").

Monday, May 27, 2013

303 Boyett: Forgettable Mexican Food But Good Beer


Back in the days prior to the 1950s, professors lived in houses on campus, from the place of the modern-day Memorial Student Center and parts south. Most of these buildings were not demolished, however--they were literally partially disassembled and placed in other parts of town. The house on Boyett and Church is one of them. Of course, a lot of them still have been demolished, but the one at Church and Boyett hasn't. I'm not sure of the house's history since being moved off-campus, but it has served as restaurants in recent years.

As mentioned by "AggiePhil" in the comments below and confirmed in other sources, in the early 2000s, it was "Satchel's BBQ & Steaks". According to Restaurant Row, it was "a casual family style restaurant with a rustic ambiance, a fireplace, cozy booths and knickknacks placed throughout. The cuisine is traditional American fare with beef, turkey, pork, chicken, steaks, and seafood entrées. The bar serves domestic and imported beers, wines and mixed drinks. They offer a kid's menu, take out and catering."


From LoopNet, back when it was Fredriko's

By 2007 Satchel's was gone and it had become a Mexican restaurant called Fredriko's, which I ate at once (it was forgettable, and is now gone). Apparently it used to be another restaurant, as well, but I don't know of it. By 2011 (roughly) the building was "DC, Inc.": the headquarters for Dixie Chicken and other related restaurants (Dry Bean Saloon, Dudd's, Chicken Oil Co.), but by 2013 it moved again (former location of Alfred T. Hornback's) and started to renovate as restaurant space again: the Blackwater Draw Brewing Company, a brewpub owned by the same owners as O'Bannon's. Given the generally positive response I've had to brewpubs in Michigan, I had high hopes but was tempered by the lousy reputation of Northgate (Chimy's was a disappointment: I don't want overpriced tacos that I have to fix in a bacteria-laden fixings bar). I have yet to go visit this new restaurant, so expect to see a new photo up there some time in the near future, perhaps. Reviews look great though, and upon trying it (in November 2013, if I recall) I found the food to be very good, a decent value (more expensive than a typical campus lunch option) with good beer. The menu was a bit limited as was the seating. I wish that as they expand (and they do a pretty good business) they could open a larger location, after all, The Chimes in Baton Rouge, a popular bar/restaurant, ended up opening a larger, two-story location called The Chimes East away from campus with a ton of parking (for a restaurant, that is). They are currently looking into building a location in downtown Bryan from what I've heard, which is still unfortunately generally parking-limited.

During the Dixie Chicken Inc. days, a banner outside said "Come And Drink It" in the form of "Come And Take It" of Texas Revolution lore.

revived 10/15 with replacement post
updated 7/12/13 with new name and information on next tenant, 7/14 added new location of Dixie Chicken Inc.
10/3: Apparently this was NOT the "Commandant's House". Removed first paragraph, referring to a post I cancelled. Updated with Satchel's info.
11/17/13: Blackwater Draw is now open.
12/8/13: Added more to focus on BW.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Commons

The Commons, before trees or bike racks, back in the '70s. From Cushing Memorial Library

676 Lubbock Street

Here was one of my favorite buildings on campus, which has since closed for renovations. I don't have a ton of information on the historic information of the Commons. I believe it has always had a post office area (or was it just mailboxes?), common lounge areas, ping-pong, and some eating places. What I'm NOT sure on is how the history of that building was. According to Historic Aggieland, it opened in 1972 along with Dunn Residence Hall and Krueger Residence Hall. The other two dorms were built in 1976. Though I heard the original dorms were built in 1973, with the Commons and the others being completed in '75. Regardless, the buildings are solidly from the mid-1970s.

According to A Pictorial History of Texas A&M University, 1876-1976, Mosher Hall and Kreuger Hall were built as women's dorms (with the other two being mens). The Commons dorms (at least as of this writing) still retain their "shared bathroom" layout. The rooms feature your typical two beds/two desks, but the bathroom is shared between two rooms, with one toilet, one shower, and two sinks. That's unfortunate—sharing a bathroom between another unrelated person is bad enough, and probably would've been a deterrent to actually living in the Commons (I'm sure I wanted to live in one of the Commons dorms at some point).

As seen in the Sbisa Dining Hall article, there were arcade and pinball games at the "Commons Snack Bar" in the late 1980s, which I'm guessing became the Common Denominator later on. (indeed, a 1970s yearbook confirms a "snack bar" was upstairs). This was one of the four "Snack Bar" locations in the 1980s and 1990s, which were the Pavilions Snack Bar, the Golf Course Snack Bar, the Bus Stop Snack Bar, and the Commons Snack Bar, which served primarily sandwiches and chips (note that all of these are gone, with the exception of the Pavilions Snack Bar, which morphed into The Grill at the Pavilion). By 2001, the Commons Snack Bar was now the Common Denominator Snack Bar and Lil' Bernie's Pizza Corner (a spin-off of the late Bernie's at Sbisa, back when Bernie's offered and was known for pepperoni rolls) was built as well.

According to Aggieland '74 (and alluded to the comment below, before I updated the post), there was originally no convenience store, but rather a branch of the "Texas A&M University Bookstore" (later renamed the MSC Bookstore after the branch locations closed). According to the comment below, that later became the convenience store "Common Market", the convenience store on campus. And of course, from the 1970s until the mid-2000s, the basement was the Commons Dining Center.

While not the best food on campus (though it was in the 1970s), you could cook your own food (until Sbisa introduced it as well), which sounds awesome but probably a health/liability problem.

You’ll get a larger variety of food at the downstairs eating facility in the Commons (a setoff dorms on campus). The food is very similar to the food at Duncan, but they usually have some more options. Also, you have the option of cooking your own food. Eggs, bacon, and pancake batter are provided in the mornings, and frozen hamburger patties are provided for lunch and dinner. This isn’t a bad deal if you want to take the time to cook your food. It usually tastes better than what they serve. The grilled cheese sandwiches are widely held as the best food served. This dining facility also has plenty of Blue Bell desserts.


(from an old Epinions review)

According to my cousin, who once worked in the Commons food services, said that not only were there things like egg, bacon, pancake batter, and hamburger patties, on Sunday afternoons, there was frozen steaks you could grill.

You read that right. Steaks. On the meal plan. Combine that with the aforementioned Whataburger (Sbisa page), and wow, it must have been great back then. Meanwhile, somewhere along the lines (early 2000s), Chick-fil-A Express was added to the upper level.



However, in 2004, the Commons Dining Center was closed permanently, partly from the fact that it people ate there less, and partly due to the fact that it was not up to code.

The eating areas on the upper level at the time included Chick-fil-A, Stone Willy's, and Common Demoninator Deli. A "temporary" food court was added at a cost of $50,000, which added Common Grounds, Commons Xpress (which served hot entrees, side dishes, salads, and cookies, not unlike the old Commons Dining Center), and Olla Roja. Apparently, there was "not enough room" for the food court to accommodate students, however.

This was fixed in 2005, when the Commons dining area was renovated, featuring Olla Roja, Zatarain's Louisiana Café, Sargino's, and Common Denominator Deli. Sargino's replaced Stone Willy's in 2005, and initially featured salads and pasta in addition to pizza. It's presumed that Zatarain's replaced the Commons Xpress line.

It says in the article that the new Commons had "lot of color and excitement", maybe from the tables. My jaw dropped the first time I read that as I couldn't believe that those tables had been any newer than 1998 (and that's pushing it). While I do love older things on campus, I prefer period pieces (the old MSC before it was butchered, Chemistry Building '72, Zachry, etc.) rather than things that look dated from day one. The expansion of the food court to modern standards when they converted the "TV rooms" into additional food court space, but they didn't even take the signage off.



The eateries had different sizes than before. Since the modern Sargino's (mentioned in the above linked article) lacked the pasta and salads, I'm guessing the 2005 remodel downsized it. Around this time, Common Grounds moved to the basement and the Tomato Bar, a pasta/sandwich/salad place opened in the basement as well. The Tomato Bar was opened in 2007, aimed at providing healthier alternatives to the usual gamut of pizza and hamburgers. This opened in spring 2007, and was a far cry from even Oodles of Noodles or Baby Greens based on reports. Like the successor food joints upstairs, you could pick your salad ingredients or pasta ingredients beforehand (instead of just asking for them cafeteria-style), and they even had things like artichoke hearts as a salad ingredient.

By 2008 more changes had taken place, Zatarain's, as you can see in the picture that I had from the Commons Main Level map has the same Zatarain's logo you see on boxes of Zatarain's stuff, except they had a whole restaurant, which I can't find anything else on any Zatarain's Louisiana Café. Maybe they got in trouble for use of the name? It and Olla Roja closed around that time (Olla Roja had two other places on campus at that point, so no tears were to be shed yet). It was in fall 2008 that the Tomato Bar closed, because of (you guessed it) health code violations, meaning not much had changed since they closed down the Commons Dining Center. To make up for the loss of the Tomato Bar, a new eatery was open in the Commons Food Court: The Tomato Bar Express, which offered two lines, salad and pasta. These replaced Olla Roja and Zatarain's, though Zatarain's didn't even make it until 2008.

The eatery below was around in the 2006-2007 era, and I have heard nothing about it online except for a few references from the dining website (archived). As tasty as fish is, I can see why Spearfish flopped in the Commons food court and was forgotten.


Meanwhile, where Commons Grounds relocated to, a lounge opened up in the basement with Common Grounds and "Jalapeños Burritos y Mas" on one side and Tomato Bar to the back, the latter of which closed when Choral Activities gutted the area for the MSC renovation. I'm not sure what will happen when it reopens. Somewhere during that time, Cabo opened for at least a semester (a test before they opened in the MSC), which unfortunately lasted less than a semester in the MSC before Compass completely ruined it.

And now to my time at A&M and a personal note: the Commons was my go-to eating place for my first semester at A&M. Having been in the post-MSC era and the post-Whataburger in the Underground era, the Commons has been there for me, where my diet consisted of every eating place available Sargino's pizza (greasy but delicious), Common Denominator (which was my least favorite), Oodles of Noodles (a lot of food, but my interested waned over time--this was the old pasta line of TBE), Jalapeño's (never disappointed), Common Grounds (coffee and ice cream, but never for lunch), Chick-fil-A (always a favorite), and Baby Greens (the salad line--I tried healthy eating, and that worked for a while, except one time I got food sickness from it and never went back). In August 2012, disastrous changes had affected The Commons thanks to outsourcing: Sargino's had changed their recipe and was now self-serve (blaargh), Oodles of Noodles and Baby Greens had gotten decor updates (along with Sargino's, as well) and renamed "Pasta Fork" and "Crisp", respectively. And due to the Compass changeover, prices went up all around. In the basement, going down the stairs and going straight back, you can see The Tomato Bar, gated off but with decor intact. Will it ever reopen? Probably not. Jalapeños became Saboroso, as well.

In winter 2012, the Commons bike racks were finally replaced.

The convenience store mentioned, which was originally a self-branded operation (Common Market, then Commons C-Store) until the late 2000s when Rattler's rebranded it, where it functioned much like a regular Rattler's, except with a lack of alcohol or cigarettes (and that was before smoking was heavily restricted on campus), though it does sell condoms. In August 2012, it "de-branded", becoming "Outtakes" (much like the Sbisa Rattler's), though restored its name within a few months. It is a Rattler's once more, where you can get some of the cheap coffee (relatively, of course) and other snacks.

Unfortunately, due to Sargino's being ruined and the whole fact that the Commons was often dirty and crowded, I didn't go to it at all in spring 2013. Maybe they reopened the other part of the basement. Regardless, I'd still like to go to the Commons again and take pictures.

UPDATE 9/29/13: A few things have changed. Sargino's looks edible again (but not the same, never the same), Cabo is back in the basement (fake Chartwells burritos Cabo, not the real Cabo--and now it's no longer MSC exclusive anyway), Common Grounds is closed (a few signs remain and the lights remain on, but it's gutted completely), the Tomato Bar area is still closed, the place where Choral Activities is still office space, and the tables and chairs were finally replaced with tasteful wooden furniture. The sad thing is, it's rumored that the Corps will be "taking over" the Southside dorms, and the Commons isn't even unique among dorms anymore, with new amenities at Hullabaloo Hall making the Commons seem ugly and dated (it only took them four decades).

UPDATE 10/7/13: In the process of talking about The Tomato Bar and another feature of The Commons that has since departed...small updates will be in the process here...

UPDATE 3/24/15: For more on the Tomato Bar and some other photos from 2015, check out The Commons Companion.

This post was a spin-off of the linked post as shown here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Other Buildings Demolished for Northpoint Crossing

When the Plaza Hotel article was cut and re-edited, an allusion was made that I would be returning to the cut material eventually. All these buildings are gone, incorporated (well, most of them, at least) into the Northpoint Crossing development.



Represented by the 1 on the map was a gas station. It was originally a Gulf station, opening too long after the Ramada, with a garage. It was kept relatively updated, with the only known change being turned into a Chevron in the early 1990s, which gave it a re-do on the trim from red-orange tiles to the 1990s Chevron blue-and-gray. It was finally shut down in the mid-2000s and torn down circa 2007. I don't remember the garage specifically, however--it's possible that it was converted into a convenience store in the 1990s. Some older phone books refer to this as "Piper's Gulf (later "Chevron", of course) Service Center". The address of this was 420 Texas Avenue.

Courtesy "je"

2 was a mystery for me. You can see a picture here. This was 100,000 Auto Parts, which had the same address of Ramada Inn (410 Texas Avenue, which it had up to its demise).

I also recently took a picture of an old aerial of the area (so it's a bit low quality) here.


3 was built as a UtoteM convenience store, once extremely common across town and the state. It became a Circle K in 1984 with the buy-out of the chain. Later on by 2007, it became "Ink Dreams", and a few years later, "Oasis Pipes & Tobacco". The address was 1405 University Drive. I don't have the full history of the building, however. In July 2013, I discovered in 1995, it was listed as "Sterling Automotive". Since the lot of the former UtoteM is pretty small, it's likely that this was either just a showroom or the old parking lot behind it (as seen) was used for Sterling, and not for University Tower. Oasis moved to Eastgate after it was evicted.

4 was a Kettle at 1403 University Drive, dating back to at least 1980. Distinctive because the yellow and black P A N C A K E S sign, it closed sometime in the 1990s (It was open at least into 1998, so that's the date I'm going to go with) after being open since the early 1980s. While the Kettle signage disappeared several years before its demise, the PANCAKES sign (not unlike the Waffle House logo, which it's often confused with) was very distinctive.

Regarding these twoI have two Google Maps Street View photos, one from 2011 and one from 2007 (it shouldn't be too hard to tell which one is which). It also clearly shows the P A N C A K E S sign, so if you have any doubt that it was a Waffle House, you can dispel them, because we never had one and from the likes of it won't be getting one anytime soon (let's be realistic here).



Originally part of another development called North Park (and the building out of the rest of Meadowland Road), the Meadowland Apartments (6) were (likely) built in the 1980s and were owned by the same owners of University Tower at one time. I'm guessing these were closed in 2005-2006, but I don't know for sure. I believed them to be located at 701 University, but later evidence suggested that they had individual addresses per building, which I haven't found yet. Remarkably, a few still stand: I guess that Northpoint Crossing never managed to get all of them. At least one of them was demolished for the "Home2 Suites by Hilton" hotel.

As for North Park, 5 was the only remaining house left on the block, 125 Meadowland. This was taken out for the redevelopment. It looks like it had a second structure behind it: possibly additional bedrooms. I have buddies who live in Eastgate, wherein at least two live in the main house, and at least one lives in a shack behind the main house.



Finally, we have 7, a 1960s-era building has seen a few things come and go. The address was 100 Texas Avenue South.

The mid-mod building started out as the Dutch Kettle Snack Bar (*not* related to the Kettle restaurant on University) there at Hensel and Texas, and probably one of the first (if not the first) 24 hour eateries in College Station. Alas, while other 24 hours eateries benefitted from the Plaza implosion such as Fuego and Denny's, this did not, as had been closed for years (even as the donut shop, which was decidedly NOT 24 hours). Eventually, by 1990, it was a Schlotzsky's Deli location (confirmed), and from the mid-1990s up to the mid-2000s, it was "Snowflake Donuts", which closed without much notice well prior to the demolition of the area.

The leasing office for Northpoint Crossing sits here and has apparently taken the address for its own.


Not mine, originally from a Brazos County history book




There were still even more on this block...more motels, a restaurant that you may have heard of on this blog, mini-golf, and more. That can be found here


updated 11/18/13
updated 6/7/14 with 2

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Before, During, and After Texadelphia


From Jennifer Cowley/University of Ohio (used with permission).


This is another one of the many articles here that involve a revolving door of tenants, with some interest paid that it went from being fairly run down (but at least useful) to fairly run down again. The point of this story focuses on the single most important tenant that was ever in this spot, even if didn't last very long at all.

For what it's worth, I did manage to go to the Texadelphia in Rice Village twice in the late 2000s and from what I remember, it had its own brand of cheesesteaks (not just roast beef and cheese, it was steak) and served with chips and salsa, complete with a mustard-based sauce that would put Layne's to shame.

Going back in time, the Promenade was not there, only Patricia Street, which instead of dead-ending near Freebirds, continued all the way to Boyett. A small building contained a UtoteM convenience store and other stores by the late 1960s.

All of the buildings at the corner at Patricia and College Main dated back to the 1940s. The buildings included 201 College Main was home to the (by 1995, at least, though it hadn't departed that long ago) former Northgate Athletic Club (though it had been Kinko's for many years, dating back to at least 1980, FabricCare Cleaners before that, which was another laundry establishment, "A&M Laundry & Dry Cleaning"). Also, in the 1970s briefly, it was also the home of Victor Caudillo's "Victor's Boot & Shoe Repair", but because I don't have any resources prior to 1980 (that's a drive to Bryan).

About the same perspective in that Texadelphia / Logans' post as well.


The other two buildings (317-319 Patricia) were eventually combined into one building, the tenant being Chicken Basket by the late 1990s, a fried chicken (and ice cream, looks like) outlet owned by the Sopasakis (as my research on 301 Patricia showed), was owned by George Sopasakis as well and was not given compensation for relocation. No wonder the Sopasakis disliked the city so much.

If this was still around today, this would definitely be a lunch option for me.

317 Patricia was originally A&M General Life Insurance Company back in '62, McLaughlin's of Corpus Christi in 1975 (hair salon) and 319 Patricia was home to "Custom House" in 1973 (a women's clothing & gift shop, inc. jewelry and macrame) and Pizza Express in 1983 (pizza in Northgate was plentiful in the 1980s). The buildings may have been combined as early as 1984, as 317 Patricia was Emilio's Pizza, which documents listed as being in the same spot as Pizza Express, even though they had different addresses.

Of course, the existence of the restaurant was always a source of controversy, as the short version is they bought some property from an elderly couple for far less than it was worth and sold to Texadelphia at a good profit.

For whatever reason, Texadelphia Sports & Sandwiches as it was then known, did not open in 1998 with the rest of the Northgate Promenade, instead opening in summer 2000. This was likely because of the renovations to the building. It looks like that the original 1940s buildings may still be partially intact...Loopnet said it was renovated in 2000, and a College Station document discussed "facade renovations" to 317-319 Patricia, and compounding this is the second arched area toward the back of Texadelphia, hiding the differences between the roof heights (on Google Maps you can see that this is indeed correct).

In 2003, facing a combination of problems, citing high rent and parking-related problems, Texadelphia owner Willie Madden abruptly decided to close, moving the store to The Woodlands area, as the Houston area was where the owner had more stores (today, there are no more Texadelphia restaurants in Houston anymore, isn't that a shame?).

It became a bar ("Logan's On Campus", despite being a block north of the boundaries) soon after, saying goodbye to a rather neat restaurant designed to make Northgate trendier and instead, arguably, making it worse overall. Now, it could be also argued that College Station wanted to make Northgate into its own version of Austin's Sixth Street, and Logan's did have a sister bar in Austin...Logan's On Sixth.

In 2012 it was sued by a certain steakhouse chain--and then a week or so later the restaurant closed for reasons supposedly unrelated to the suite, but it never reopened.

I tried to make it the same angle, as this clearly shows I am not a photographer.

Here's a picture of what the building looks like now. Logan's has done some minor changes to the building, those trees grew up, and a stop sign has been placed abruptly in the shot because part of College Main was closed off and became a pedestrian mall (and they still placed a brand-new, full-sized stop sign there). Over the Christmas 2013 break, it changed its name to "Logie's On Campus", likely because of that same lawsuit.

One more thing: the pictures from 1995 aren't very good. Better prints (but in black and white) can be seen at Project HOLD here (Chicken Basket is linked, navigate back to find 201 College Main).

This was originally two separate articles, one published in May 2013 and a second article created in September 2013 to further elaborate on it. In late 2015, these were combined back into the original post, which was almost completely rewritten, including upgrading links.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First American Bank / Citibank / BB&T at 2818 and Texas Avenue

2717 Texas Avenue

Part of the Don Adam bank group, First American Bank opened at the northeast corner of FM 2818 (yes, that was the official name at the time) and Texas Avenue on January 31, 1994, and was converted to Citibank in 2005. In June 2014, the bank was rebranded (again) to BB&T.

[UPDATED IN JULY 2014]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taco Bell on University


731 University Drive

Although the New Development lists mention that the exterior will be redone soon, this started out in the early 1990s (according to MyBCS) as a James Coney Island, a hot dog chain out of Houston. I don't have a picture of the building when it was a James Coney Island, but I can surmise it looks similar (if not identical) to this picture, right down to the door placement, the black and white checkered part, and, just out of view in my Taco Bell shot, a circular window. This look is also supported by the original outline of the roof. In any case, I think it would look better as a JCI than a Taco Bell (and the source is true).

Before the James Coney Island, it was an old-style Texaco, built with custom maroon roof tiles instead of the stock red.

EDIT July 15: Drove by to find that they were completely renovating the restaurant. It doesn't look like this anymore. Too bad...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Classic Homes

In June 2015, the post Classic Homes was removed from the index because there just wasn't a lot of information on it. However, it is a cool shot, so it won't be completely removed.


1700 Barak Lane

No narrative for this one, but this building obviously looks like it hasn't been touched in at least two decades. Sadly, I was bedridden from a virus and was not able to go to the Evans Library like I had planned, but if all goes well by this afternoon, we could be seeing a lot more Bryan buildings on this blog...

I'm especially digging that signage box. I wonder if it ever rotated.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Heirloom Gardens


12900 Old Wellborn Road

While now a marble countertops place (with the creative name of "Granite & Marble"), this used to be Heirloom Gardens.

The old Heirloom Gardens website, which is up as of this writing holds a few surprises. Apparently, the copyright date is automatic, as when I accessed it in 2010, it said ©2010, and now it's ©2013. There's a December "Season Ending Sale", and a PDF of the directions, which have snapshots of Google Maps circa 2005. The original Google Maps were often out-of-date, and this one is no exception. They have North Graham crossing the railroad, Rock Prairie West being marked as "Gandy", and even the railroad marked as "Southern Pacific". The roads are still in a 2001 incarnation, and the railroad has been owned by UP since 1996. Grab a copy of the PDF here.











I don't know what was there before Heirloom Gardens, I seem to remember it was some sort of barbecue place, with BAR-BE-QUE spelled out above the building. At least, I do remember a BAR-BE-QUE sign, and it would make sense in context. I mean, the 1995 shot has the building, but not the nursery semi-covered areas as of 2010 (which supports this context).





As you may have noticed above, North Graham was sadly truncated from the railroad over a decade ago (2001?). I'm guessing that back when North Graham had a railroad crossing and a stoplight, it was substantially easier to access.



I also found a Google Maps Street View picture of the truncation from the other side of Wellborn. This was demolished when Wellborn was widened.



Sorry for the "re-run". Hopefully we can return to the library for microfilms and the Northgate area for new pictures and information...and perhaps downtown Bryan as well...

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Doomed Buildings at 290 and Beltway 8



16009 Northwest Freeway - Taco Bell
16055 Northwest Freeway - Wendy's
16002 Northwest Freeway - McDonald's
16061 Northwest Freeway - Brake Check

Believed to all closed in fall 2012, except for McDonald's in early 2013 (just a guess: I don't know when that Brake Check closed, either), this is our first post outside of the Brazos Valley and into Houston, which has far more interesting things to check out (and also a destructive city in terms of architecture, moreso than College Station). But this is an exception to what we have had before, and not the norm.

I was too young (and never really traveled on that part of the highway anyway) to remember the Katy Freeway expansion, which not only took an abandoned railroad right of way, but required demolition of dozens of buildings: office buildings, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and houses, with many easily less than two decades old.

Because the expansion of Northwest Freeway isn't afforded the abandonment of the railroad, many streetside buildings are simply being condemned and torn down. A tragedy.

There were three restaurants wedged at the corner of Beltway 8 and 290, a Wendy's, a Taco Bell, and a McDonald's, not very visible except for their signs pointing out of the sides of the highway. I know I've passed 'em several times, back when they were still selling delicious greasy food, but never ate there myself, seeing as they weren't particularly convenient, and were often there at the wrong time or the wrong side of the highway. But for the times I did go through Houston, I passed them by. They were familiar to me.

But now they are gone. I'm guessing they were built sometime in the 1980s, seeing as how Wendy's has the "solarium" dining room. A friend and I stopped by in our travels to Houston last March. Enjoy some of the pictures.

It's worth noting that we went to the dumpsters of every restaurant to see if we could snag anything, but we couldn't (maybe they went to Sparkle Signs, I know there's an old McDonald's sign there). We figured that if both pieces of a sign were intact, we could each take one, clean it up, backlight it, and mount it on a wall, creating an imposing and interesting piece of décor. It would also be a great conversation piece. But alas, we couldn't, and all we found was random trash. I have a few pictures we took, but the rest could perhaps be told another day.


My friend (seen) and I attempt to order some food from McDonald's. No reply.

The Wendy's sign carcass.



McDonald's was repainted recently, albeit for nothing.



It was also stripped up its roof and boarded up tight.



Yo quiero.



Flaking paint, exposing green. Was this not originally a Taco Bell?!



Inside Wendy's. Well, looking inside, anyway. This was my friend's picture. Or at least his camera.


Wendy's exterior. Had to crop the person out.



Aforementioned Brake Check. This was not examined terribly closely.

If you enjoyed seeing Houston buildings, and would like to see even more, check out our new associate at Arch-ive.org, which explores old Houston buildings. There's no comments and there's sadly little text to go along with it, but most of the stuff is rare, the photos are great, and it updates on a more consistent basis.

Edit 6/14/2013: Commenter "je" has reported that the buildings seen here have been torn down.