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").

5 comments:

Pseudo3D said...

Should've noted that in the 2012 "improvements" of University Drive, the access to University Drive was completely removed...and that's one reason it has a University Drive address.

Pseudo3D said...

Thirsty Turtle wasn't a bar, it was a liquor store that exclusively sold beer. It was around circa 1980. By 1983 it was demolished for the 7-Eleven.

Dennis Parrish '68 said...

Actually PS3D you are slightly incorrect. 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. We sold to 711.

Pseudo3D said...

Thank you for commenting. The slightly erroneous comment was from a phone book, which seemed to indicate the liquor store past, though when I went back to my 1980 phone book, it does say that it was a bar (pool, pinball, etc., much like Dixie Chicken). Despite that, it is listed in the 1980 phone book as The Thirsty Turtle and not as 12th Man & Co. for whatever reason.

Anonymous said...

I attended A&M from 76-81 (Class of '80). I remember this corner as a Phillips 66 station. I became acquainted with the owner because a friend of mine worked there. They sold gas and hot link sandwiches folded over in bread. Around 1979-80 the owner enclosed the old service bays, remodeled and turned it into the Thirsty Turtle. It was where us "Jics" would go, being weary of the increasingly "yuppy" crowd at the Chicken.