Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kyle Field

The history of Kyle Field would be kind of difficult to write, since it has been heavily modified over the years, and because Kyle Field is so iconic, there's a million better sources than my somewhat derived blog. But the most iconic part of Kyle Field, the west end, constructed as we knew it in 1979, is no more. It has been less than 24 hours as of this writing when the west side was imploded. You could feel the earth shake as concrete pillars hit the ground.

Editor's Note: Read this.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Safeway at the Health Department

Boring government building or a disguised old supermarket? You decide!

Cross-posted from Safeway and Albertsons in Texas Blog

In October 1950, Safeway opened store #249 in Bryan, Texas, when they were a much smaller company than they later grew to be. It was likely from the Dallas division originally.

Used to be here! (1960)

Now it's here! (1971)

In the mid-1960s, Safeway rebuilt their store directly behind their old one. The reasoning for this was never fully explained, especially since the store was only 15 years old at the time and there were no serious issues reported in the press (foundation issues, right of way clearance).

In 1986, the store closed, probably to distance from the newly-acquired Weingarten store just a bit down the road. The replacement store would last as a Safeway as just a few years before becoming an AppleTree. It would be the last AppleTree until Kubicek sold out around 2009.

Sometime within the next 5 years of 1986 it was remodeled into the Brazos County Health Department, though I could've sworn that they've done an exterior remodel in recent years--the old one was distinctly grocery store-shaped. Regardless of what they did to the front, there's some rockwork on the side of the store: that's one sign that it was a Safeway, I suppose.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Scoates Hall

333 Spence

Who loves old buildings? I do! I took these pictures of the 1932-built Scoates Hall in June 2012 shortly after renovation plans were announced (I think Scoates was last renovated sometime in the 1950s or 1960s, I have a hard time believing that a lot of what I was seeing was 1930s vintage). Unfortunately, I didn't have good picture taking skills or a good frame of reference to where these were (the floor plan threw me a loop, you can't directly access the two halves of the building, and even the second floor connections require some manuevering), so the pictures aren't entirely adequate. I can however tell you that the water fountain in one shot is totally gone, the stairs were reinforced with new guardrails (the old rails used to terrify me--especially since they were below a taller person's center of gravity), and the new hallways look nice and shiny, though of course something is missing.

Check out the shots here, on Flickr.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Zachry Engineering Center: End of an Era

We'll be exploring this one soon enough.

This building has so much to cover about, it's not even on the site. It opened in 1972 and I promised a massive post on it, but that kept getting delayed as I rushed to wrap the site up before Kyle Field was imploded. Even afterward, some upload errors and a low priority prevented me from finishing this. Check out the progress here. (Updated: new link)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

4300 Texas Avenue

The building in its original form. It doesn't look like this today, thanks to a later facade re-do. Courtesy John Ellisor.

Just across from the Luby's, we had the first local location of Piggly Wiggly (owned by Six Star Foods locally, at least in the later days). First opened in 1963, I can't nail down when it exactly it closed, but it seems to have been in the late 1970s or early 1980s (and why it had an even number despite being on the odd-numbered side of Texas Avenue I don't know).

After Piggly Wiggly left, part of the store (suite B) was reopened as a discount grocery store, Jewel T. Owned by the same company running the Jewel-Osco stores in the Chicago area (and a play on the name "Jewel Tea", their original name), Jewel-T was a discount store reportedly similar to Aldi and took residence in older-generation grocery stores. Unfortunately, details are sparse on this elusive store, and it didn't last long. In 1984, The Jewel Companies were bought by American Stores, and Jewel T was sold off to Save-a-Lot, but the Texas division was bought by Grand Prairie-based Shop-N-Sav and renamed Texas-T.

In 1994, Texas-T was bought from them by Save-a-Lot's parent company, SuperValu, and converted to Save-a-Lot (the rest of the Texas T stores were) before closing for good a few years later. It's not surprising if Save-a-Lot closed soon after, a failed stand in College Station is pretty much forgotten (and hey, that was an old Piggly Wiggly, too!)

After Save-a-Lot closed, it became Jacque's Toys & Games, a local upscale "learning toys" store. Now, Jacque's would claim it's been around since 1986 (the "start of business" time), but not in that space. It was originally called "The Toy Box" at located at 3806 Texas Avenue South in Bryan, later home to Brazos Blind & Draperies. Jacque's closed in September 2016.

If I have my chronology right, the left location (suite A) later became Brazos Valley Christian Books (coincidentally, located at 3808 Texas Avenue in the early 1990s) and later Pack & Mail, which closed in the latter part of the 2000s. It's now been subdivided once more, as you can see in my pictures. Because I don't have actual address-based directories, I haven't been able to ascertain what was in suite A after Piggly Wiggly's departure.

It's important to note that although Piggly Wiggly was at 4300 Texas Avenue, but while the shopping center is still called that, none of the stores have that address. One more story to tell: the Brazos Natural Foods store was here since 1988, and has long been a purveyor of organic and gluten free items long before the mainstream supermarkets had them. Adjacent to Brazos Natural Foods is a few other stores, but those have Rosemary addresses.

The current Google Maps imagery shows Aggieland Preschool Academy at the old Jacque's and Lone Star Quiltworks and BCS Fitness on the left.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Burger King at the End (or the Beginning) of Texas Avenue

The store in question.

This post is just on a Burger King (3129 Texas Avenue S). Before I get into that, let me tell you this. I would be lying to you if I said that nostalgia was not one of the driving forces behind this site. After all, I grew up here, and in these posts, published in the last few years and updated since then (such as this post, which received a rewrite nearly a year after its creation) detail most everything I remembered or should've remembered. I've already told about the shops and restaurants here, many of which I grew up, and in versions past of this site, even included things like my old schools, or Adamson Lagoon, and probably if I had more time and research, the doctors and dentists as well (the old pediatric dentist office is gone, with the old Scott & White building at 1600 University Drive East to come soon after).

This part of Texas Avenue, originally explored in a full post with all the descriptions of the stores nearby, including the pool store and the curiously unnoticed empty spot was really special to me in years past. You see, back in those days, the only reason why we would go this way is to go somewhere cool, like my uncle's house in Baton Rouge or perhaps Houston. Even in the early 2000s, there just wasn't a lot out there. Rock Prairie Road had stuff on it, of course, like the hospital, junior high school (whoops, middle school), or even the nice new Kroger that opened in 2000, but that was just about it. There wasn't even another interchange until Greens Prairie Road, and that just had the water tower and an Exxon/McDonald's combo.

Since the Highway 6 bypass was built in the 1970s, prior to around 2006, there was an intersection here with the southbound one-way traffic from the bypass intersecting with Deacon. To the south was Texas Avenue turning into an entrance for Highway 6 south with the northbound lane going from Highway 6. To the south at Deacon was a two-way frontage road that paralleled Texas Avenue up to Wal-Mart and became the southbound Highway 6 frontage road for the section south of Texas Avenue. Yes, for a time, you could drive straight from Nantucket Drive to the Wal-Mart parking lot and back without making a single turn or getting on the highway.

Around 2006, that all changed, and the set-up was altered. The road that paralleled Texas Avenue was cut off at an apartment complex, and the two lanes from Texas Avenue went to the frontage road south (now all one-way) or the highway. Another thing that did change was the demolition of a small Diamond Shamrock gas station (catty-corner from a new Texaco with a Subway inside).

Opening in 2007 (early 2007, I believe), this Burger King opened to replace the one at Culpepper Plaza, which was torn down and replaced with a Chick-fil-A. I always found it a bit strange that there just wasn't very many Burger Kings in town, as in some places they compete head to head with McDonald's...but it still wasn't too far away, and it was never very crowded. As long as it stays open and I don't get some sort of food poisoning, that's a plus!

Updated in August 2015 with new focus. There used to be other photos and a bit of other info, but sorry, that has gone into "storage"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Rare Gas Station Revival

Figures that I'd have to update this blog every once in a while. This is a small update to one of the Texas Avenue parts with new photos and info. Located next to a Century 21 office (which we didn't photograph), this was a Mobil for years (at least back to 1980, which is when I have phone books) but closed in 2004 (to the best of my memory) and was converted to Stratta Auto Repair for a number of years a few years later. I never released these pictures because the direct sunlight tended to mess them up, but here they are.
Looking at the garage, September 2013. Sorry my thumb partially obscures the shot. It was bright!
Another view, September 2013. I think that chimney is from another building which I believe may be part of the same complex. I remember the name of the business was written on the side wall facing Lincoln, but I'll have to do more research into it.
The pumps are still intact, September 2013. What a time warp!
Mobil signs, September 2013. A lone shadow looks in.
September 2013.
September 2013.

In September I returned to take a few more pictures. Sadly, inquiring within about the Mobil signs had no positive response--the signs were gone, likely disposed. Bummer. FabricCare has made their home in the garage while a tobacco store is opening next to it. Here's some more pictures from Sept. 2014.

Wow, this thing still lights up!.
Another pump that lights up.
More lights.

Behind it was an old garage, originally known as "Murphy's garage" or something like that (informally) but later it became Mechanics Unlimited, all the way into the early 2000s. Eventually, it closed. The building was recently repainted on my visit. The maroon board in the lower right was used to board up the garage doors, while you can see the maroon paint that was once on the bricks

It's 102 Lincoln, but there appears to be something going in there, though the fact that it was issued nearly two years ago makes that dubious. By the way, the chimney seen in the old Mobil shots are from this building, not the Mobil, which is 901 Texas Avenue S.

UPDATE 8/30/15: Shortly after making this post, the renovations were completed at this location. A sign replaced the long-empty Mobil that read, "The College Station" with "Discount Tobacco" written under it.

I still lived in the neighborhood at the time, and was aware of this. "Cute," I thought. "I like the fact that they made efforts to make this look very similar to the Mobil that was once here." After all, no gas station had been here for about a decade, the vacant "Texashell" was never re-occupied, probably owing to a difficult location, and I found it implausible that anyone would open a gas station without an electronic display. Everyone did, and every year more gas stations (especially the Shell stations) would upgrade. I should've noticed that the prices were indeed changing with the market, and what ended up happening is that during late summer, a Valero banner was placed over the sign. It shocked me, because not only was Valero buying essentially a dated gas station (the pumps were updated, they were not mock-ups, but the station hadn't seen a lot of updates over the years), but it was real the whole time! I felt a bit foolish for having thought so (plus "The College Station", the name, was a decent enough pun, though the "Discount Tobacco" threw me off) but come the rate it was going, it was likely to be razed entirely for a new building, with the pumps taken out in the process, or at least, have the canopy destroyed and paved over. You would agree, right?

UPDATE: 10/21/15: Sadly, Valero has upgraded the prices to digital numbers. Alas...

Note: The title photo appears on Wikimapia with permission. I also plan to "outsource" the post, as part of this post was written as the big Texas Avenue post. That's why the name of the post as of 2015 went from "Mobil & Mechanics" to "A Rare Gas Station Revival". Please stand by while further edits continue.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Last Days of the Diamond T Stables

Back in 2013, I wrote about Alta Vista Christian Academy, which included a bit about the west part of Rock Prairie Road and mentioned these, some stables that had been on the road (originally Gandy Road) for a number of years. A few years ago, the land went up for sale on this one, and I knew I had to act fast: because a month ago or so, the city had revealed Equinox subdivision, which would eventually become "The Revelry Townhomes". And that's when I took these pictures. Diamond T seems to have opened in the early 1990s. Google Earth shows them there in 1995 and my 1998 phone book lists it, but the 1993 ones (and earlier) do not. Soon after I took these, the entire property was completely torn down and construction on the new development began. The Diamond T Storage next door continues to live on, though, but for how long is anyone's guess.

3270 Rock Prairie Road West (Gandy Road)

Updated 11.15 with new title, slightly updated information, and other minor changes.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Nightlife at Doux Chene Apartments

See those stairs leading up to the second level in the main office building? That's the focus today here. (Google Maps Picture)

I originally wrote this in August 2014 and the text below reflects that, as well as an email/addition I got from the owners at the time. In April 2015, however, all this would change when it was sold and was rebranded as "Flats on 12", which so far over a year and a half later (August 2016) looks like the typical game apartments have run in town, change the name, give a repaint, cheap remodel, jack up the rent. This also added a lighted sign on the front of the building and also changed the entrance to the former restaurant/nightclub area (I think it's supposed to be a clubhouse now). This is a bit disappointing because Doux Chene was famously the holdout in these sorts of shenanigans. And now back to our original post...

First off, this is not an apartments review site. Nor is the title supposed to be some sort of snarky joke. Most of the content here is long out of date. If you came via Google looking for information regarding the actual apartments as they stand today, move on. Or not. I could always use visitors here. So, Doux Chene Apartments (I think it's pronounced "doe shane", though I'm not entirely sure, and the translation is "sweet oak") is one of your typical run-down apartment complexes from the 1970s, except it's more than that.

First off, Doux Chene was designed to be trendy, trendy enough that they would actually advertise themselves as "country club apartment living", and trendy enough to be the first true mixed-use building in the City of College Station.

From circa 1974 to late 1970s, it was "Mansard House". Mansard House, despite being the upper level of an apartment complex on the edge of town (sure, why not?) was one of the really nice places in town. Live entertainment, seafood, lobster, lamb, and more were all on the menu.

This was the kind of apartment complex Doux Chene used to be, and apparently wasn't one of a kind...the Chateaux Dijon apartments, known for when George W. Bush lived there in the early 1970s, was also the same theme and layout, but unlike Doux Chene, managed to upkeep itself quite nicely.

By 1980, while Doux Chene was still successful, Mansard House had closed and was replaced with Studio 2818, an actual discotheque.

Source: personal collection

Later night clubs included Dallas: The Night Club...

...and finally, Scandals.

Most of these are sadly relatively undocumented, only whispers across forums and other sources, including stories of ladies' nights with male strippers, with men being let in after the women had several drinks. Perhaps it's better that some of the craziness that went on is better left unsaid (I'm sure there were many regrettable nights).

Doux Chene of course is also a rather unlucky apartment complex, such as a tornado in 2006 striking a building, necessitating its demolition, or the fact that the building caught fire some months later due to improper wiring (it's also worth noting that anytime I read about an apartment complex fire, it used to be that there was a good chance it was Doux Chene).

If there are any restaurants/clubs I missed, or you have any memories of them, please write in the comments.

Since writing this post, we (I) was contacted by a management representative of Doux Chene Apartments, whose name has been redacted for identity purposes.

"While your account of the history of the complex is mostly accurate, I take issue with the assertion that Doux Chene has not 'managed to upkeep itself.' While the property did fall into a state of disrepair in the late 80's to the early 90's, the current management has put a lot of effort (and money) into repairs and renovations and enhancements. While there is no hiding the fact that the property is 40 years old, it is in very good condition for a property of its age.

Doux Chene has indeed encountered more than its share of challenges.

A lightning strike destroyed 4 apartment units, severely damaged a dozen others. No injuries, a quarter of a million dollars in damages.

Severe hail required the replacement of nearly a dozen roofs, another quarter of a million dollars.

The tornado in 2006 actually destroyed two buildings, damaged several roofs, caused water damage in nearly 80 apartments, required replacement of over 160 central air conditioning systems. Total casualty loss, just over $4 million.

And then the small fire that happened shortly thereafter... The fire marshal initially indicated it was electrical, but upon further investigation it was found to be caused by a resident's cigarette butt rolling into a gap at the edge of his balcony.

Through all of this, we have been blessed in multiple ways. Firstly, there have been no injuries as a result of any of these incidences. Also, our insurance company has consistently paid in a timely fashion, and we have been fully made whole. We have also been given the reassurance, that no matter what we face, we will be able to come through it. I won't get all preachy here, but our faith in God has been strengthened through these difficulties.

Some ads were also sent as part of this, including Doux Chene hosting some wild parties (it's hard to imagine even the student-oriented apartments specifically hosting a keg party today)

As wild partying obviously upset the neighbors, a nearby apartment complex offered a shotgun as among the freebies you could get for signing a lease.

- 9/3/14

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Luby's Cafeteria

For several years prior to closure, the sign had read "Luby's Drive-Thru"

Today's post isn't filler, it's something I actually have content and information for, the late Luby's Cafeteria in Bryan, Texas. Opening in February 1977, it opened at a time when cafeterias were more plentiful, but much like the clientele they tend to service, they've been dying off. No more Piccadilly Cafeteria stores exist in Texas, and even Luby's has been closing far more cafeterias than they've been opening (one opened in Cypress c. 2005, so it may not be a lost cause). Unfortunately, I have no photos of Luby's when they were opening and operating, because it was a Luby's, and the Luby's closing took many by surprise. It closed in April 2014 after a few decades of opening by a mystery owner, which turned out to be Café Eccell, after the drama surrounding it at Church and Wellborn Road, which opened in August 2014 after renovating it.

While Café Eccell has updated a bit (mostly by repainting the drive-through end of the restaurant and opening it as the sub-restaurant La Bodega Express, as well as making it share the roadside sign), Luby's is the one with the history behind it. A full page ad had been taken out for its opening, describing the restaurant that didn't have waiters or waitresses.

You'll feel good about Luby's... selection... Everyone likes what they get, because everyone chooses their favorites. Snappy fresh fruits and crisp garden salads. Hot and hearty entrees. Piping hot vegetables. Home baked rolls and breads. And the taste-temptingest selection of homemade desserts you've ever seen.

This was the only Luby's Cafeteria in the area. There was one in the mall that opened in 1996 but it closed after a while (lasting about five years, or less).

Enjoy the pictures I took in and around the restaurant shortly after closing (and after Eccell repainted it from the whiter color it was originally), taken May 2014.

4401 South Texas Avenue

Editor's Note: Updated 2019 to account for a few new things, including La Bodega Express, the Post Oak Mall location, and others.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Circle K Truxtop

Today, a Texaco store stands proudly here

Funny story--I originally had wanted to do this post back in September 2016 (the rewritten version of course, as the "date posted" is from well before that) when Alimentation Couche-Tard buying CST Brands. In layman's terms, Corner Store, the convenience store commonly associated with Valero (though independent since 2013) will be turned into Circle K (which unfortunately recently did away with its classic or at least classic-inspired logo for a new, worse one). With that in mind, I felt it was high time to cover one of the Circle K stores that did grace our fair city before a wave of new Circle K stores come in adjacent to the Valero stores (if not taking them over entirely). This is of course a "rebranded" post originally posted as "Two TETCO Stores" many years ago.

But not to be outdone, there was news some months later that Sunoco, which had bought Stripes a few years back (resulting in new Sunoco gas canopies), was selling its convenience stores out to 7-Eleven, which will hopefully be the boost that puts actual branded 7-Eleven stores in town instead of two TETCO stores, making this post relevant again instead of old dated news.

There is one other TETCO store that used to be covered on this blog, and that would be the one at Harvey Road and Texas Avenue, which has difficult access (parking was never accessible from Culpepper Plaza) and has been operating for years as an Exxon. That one has been operating for years as an Exxon (since the 1980s, though unfortunately I don't have a lot of info on it, it seems like there was more of an emphasis on auto parts), and would eventually go under the Speedy Stop name (but still an Exxon). I believe the SS name has been in place since 2000, as evidence seems to point that the original Exxon was auto repair-oriented but the rebuilt Exxon was not. I don't remember the old Exxon, personally, but I did take two pictures when it was Speedy Stop.

To begin, who remembers UtoteM? It was a small convenience store chain that once had locations all over the area, and we've covered a number of them in this blog before. My records indicate that there was one at the current site of Jin's Asian Cafe (though I currently lack the phone book records for it), one at 301 Patricia, one at the current site of Northpoint Crossing, one at what is now the current site of Checkers there at Holleman and Welsh, one at 105 Walton (that link goes to the main Eastgate page, I've been wanting to separate those into different pages), and one that later became a bus station, and those are the ones actually covered here. (An extant example can be found at the corner of Old College Road and College Main, unless that has closed and I just haven't been aware of that fact yet)

Well, as the page on Walmart currently mentions (as of this writing, these things are in flux all the time), Circle K bought these stores and shut most of the original UtoteM stores down almost immediately afterward. They weren't all bad, though, because UtoteM did construct a few modern stores with pumps just a few years before it sold out. This was one of them.

By the early 1990s, this would be branded as a Circle K "Truxtop".

OK, I cheated: this isn't actually from the Bryan store, it's from Skyline Products but I still imagine the Texaco sign looking sort of like this

As part of a sale in mid-1999, Circle K sold its stores in town to Duke & Long as part of a 142 store deal, which rebranded the stores to Everyday and gave all the stores Conoco gas pumps, but a few years later, Duke & Long filed bankruptcy, and from there, the stores went their separate ways. Many of the stores went to Speedy Stop, which in turn sold a few, like Villa Maria/Cavitt and Longmire/Harvey Mitchell Parkway sold to Handi Stop in the mid-2000s, becoming Diamond Shamrock briefly before switching to Texaco as Valero began to consume the Diamond Shamrock name. Others, like 1600 South College Avenue, went independent (it still holds a Conoco-shaped sign).
Note the oval-shaped sign, that's from Conoco

However, 3401 Texas 21 held onto its Speedy Stop name until it was the only one in town left (along with a second Speedy Stop not related to the Circle K lineage). I don't know if 3401 Texas 21 had a Diamond Shamrock branding in the mid-2000s, I'm 95% sure it did, but it did have Texaco gas by 2007 like the Handi Stop stores (and by that time, the Diamond Shamrock stores were well on their way to being replaced by Valero completely). Despite promises, the TETCO stores have yet to receive full 7-Eleven branding, perhaps when the Stripes deal is closed they will get the leverage to finally push it, as it will expand their holdings to 10 stores (in theory--I can imagine the Holleman Rattlers sold off for being too close and the former Chicks sold off for being too big). It would also put well above Circle K, which would only gain four stores in their deal, all of them east of Texas Avenue and none of them too impressive.

Hopefully this will receive proper 7-Eleven branding soon enough!

But no matter what happens, neither of them will gain the heyday they did back in the 1980s.

3401 Texas Highway 21

Updated June 2017 with focus on Bryan store and new name from "Two TETCO Stores"

Monday, August 11, 2014

Newport Condominiums

One of the things mentioned in this old post about the Circle Drive-In on Northgate was the presence of the Newport Condominiums, a now-defunct (to be used for the expansion of St. Mary's, should/when that ever happen). These were built sometime in the 1980s but were torn down partially for their questionable structural integrity. The apartments were built on a modified pier and beam layout where the parking was below the building about half a floor down. I could've sworn I had pictures of what remained, but apparently not, which was aggravating: I wish I had gotten interior photos before Dulie Bell disappeared, but at least I was able to actually get in.

Seems that just about three months before their untimely demolition, the buildings were advertising as "Campus Lodge at Northgate" and still leasing! I got these from Street View over a year ago and was intending to use them for the blog, which I finally am.

402 Nagle

Any more comments on these would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Palace Theater

"And a screen without a picture since Giant came to town"

This is a very, very old post that I'm finally posting again after putting it away for a few years. I originally posted this after the fall 2011 Texas Reds Festival (and it's a good thing too: summer was especially brutal), where I saw the newly revitalized Queen but was disappointed about the redevelopment plan, ate some steak and fried Oreos, etc. (but no beer or wine). The map I was intending to scan (different blog standards at the time, you see) had gotten so much powdered sugar on it I declared it was a loss and threw it away.

My opinion about Downtown Bryan has changed somewhat. At one time I felt it was too sanitized and cartoonish but even those have gotten some wear into them like breaking into a pair of tennis shoes. It's certainly better than the alternative: crumbling into decay and ruin, as it was circa 1990.

Sadly, I have no pictures of how it was and how I remember it in the 1990s. Fortunately, I do however have a music video of "This Old Porch" sung by notable country-western singer (and TAMU alumni) Lyle Lovett.

This video is from Lovett's official site and contains several pictures and an interview (it's part of a three part series called "Trucks, Tortillas, and Tombstones")

There's a bit on the beginning where he's interviewing someone (didn't catch his name):

"...But Bryan fell on hard times, like so many downtowns and towns of all sizes in the '60s when the shopping centers began to spread, same kind of thing happened here......Several attempts have been made by people who said 'well, we could rescue this place, look at these fine wide streets down here, this would be a pleasant place to shop, live on a...make a kind of historic district out of it' but there's really not enough population to do the kind of things they've done in Denver and even in Houston to some extent. And so, it just gets worse.....It just isn't happening. It's not likely to happen now.

Bryan did ultimately did "rescue" the downtown, by sinking tax dollars into it. And though they weren't able to truly revive it as it was in its "glory days", it managed to coax in new shops and businesses. Boarded-up buildings, empty storefronts, and peeling paint were ultimately done away with, but it seems like some of it has been lost (at least they never did convert it to a pedestrian mall at any time. I felt a bit nostalgic watching this: not because I actually lived in that era, but the downtown like I remembered it. The Palace Theater, in particular is featured prominently: the withered curtain still intact, with a shot of the fire escape next door. I remember that fire escape. I was at a Mexican-themed festival there years ago, and rather than watch the dancers on stage, I was drawn to it. There was something about it, some vaguely spooky and depressing feeling that was later seen in things like desolate old malls and Detroit buildings.

That's what today's post is about.

Starting in the late 19th century or early 20th century (as a live theater, it was acquired by Morris Schulman in 1926 and started to show movies. Sadly, Schulman never got to see the theater empire that the Schulman name would become, as he committed suicide in the backstage of the Palace Theater in 1935. His widow would later acquire the Queen, and ultimately pass the business on to Bill Schulman, who passed away in May 2013, even though by that time business had passed on to his sons and the Schulmans pulled out of Bryan-College Station. The Palace, along with others in downtown Bryan, closed in the mid-1980s (at the latest).

Anyway, the Palace Theater was somewhat butchered in the renovation: apparently, the Palace is outdoor because the roof collapsed in 1986, but today the Palace exists even less: only the marquee is original (at best).

See how many things you can spot that are distinctly different: where Stafford Main Street looks like the original building was destroyed, leaving only the facade, there's "Discount Trophies & Engraving" with some greenish tile: the facade was changed (restored or completely redone) for its current incarnation of EarthArt (DT&E appears at 4:35). You can also catch a glimpse of the late missed Los Norteños restaurant.

Here's a few modern glimpses from summer 2013 (my pictures): here, here, and here.

Hopefully you find this post interesting, as it's been sitting in the "back room" for years (it was originally published as "Downtown Bryan: At the Bottom of the Night"). There's more coming that will be from storage from the old CSR&R or was haphazardly put in the Texas Avenue post.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Barbecue, Catering, and Tires at 2319 Texas Avenue

Picture from Yelp Review

Built in 1984 as "Pop's Barbecue" ([Maybe. See comment.]), this building is now a shiny modern tire store.

Around 1997-1998 it became Epicures Catering, which existed in the 1980s but somewhere else (unfortunately, the phone books don't list the address of where it is).

Over time, Epicures lost popularity and fell into disrepair until closing (actually, Epicures didn't close, they just ended up moving). The original green overhang was replaced with a gold one in the mid-2000s after the old one was too tattered. The 2011 conversion to Tiremax cleaned up the building and parking lot quite a bit, but the franchise went bust a year later and it had to change its name to "BCS Tires & Lifts", so the sign didn't look quite as good after that. You could actually see in Google Earth where Tiremax even added a bit to the building. I don't have any pictures of BCS Tires & Lifts (that you can see anytime), but there is a Pop's Barbecue ad which you can see here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Exxon on Boonville

The Exxon at the corner of FM 1179 and Boonville, which I have only recently seen, as shown here in a picture I took this February. It has been open since at least the mid-1990s and has had several restaurants in it (a bit unusual for something not off of a major thoroughfare), since it has a kitchen and an eat-in area. "Fratello's Pizza Company" is the only one I've found at this address (3200 Boonville Rd) but they also have their location as at the old Daylight Donuts space a bit west of here.

In late 2007, it became the home of Stover Boys, a hamburger-and-fries outlet that kind of had a "rural outlet, specials written on a chalkboard" feel to it that opened to much local acclaim. It was where Bryan-College Station was acquainted with Charles Stover and his restaurants.

Stover's restaurant was an instant success, and people would come out to this little gas station and fill up every available parking space. When it turned out that people would pass it by rather than fight for parking, it was clear that Stover's had outgrown itself and Stover Boys moved into an old restaurant pad in Westgate Shopping Center, clear on the other side of town. This was in 2008, and although it opened around early 2009, the Stover Boys signage still hangs at this Exxon, which also suggests how rarely new restaurants come in.

If you've paid attention to our Facebook page, I updated a number of other articles, which are listed there.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Post Oak Mall Part 3 - The 1980s and 1990s

Unless you're new, I have already written "new" posts for the department stores of Post Oak Mall and the Food Court. Now, it's time to focus on the mall's in-line stores themselves, without the messy "Superpost" released a few years back.

Unfortunately, if I tried to cover Post Oak Mall's in-line stores in fell swoop, there'd be chaos. I'd never get it done.

Post Oak Mall opened in 1982 on the corner of Harvey Road and Texas 6 ("the East Loop") and was largely the catalyst for development on that side of town. It included a small extension of Holleman from the frontage road (still two ways at this point) to just beyond the highway (taking over a small road called Sutton Place, we'll get to that later). It had four department stores at opening, with three more coming soon by the end of the year (the seventh anchor pad was never developed, though I can take stabs at what it could've been). Post Oak Mall was actually pretty small: it was under the general "regional mall standard" of 1,000,000 square feet of retail at only around 800,000 square feet, and the "department stores" were really small. Even the largest store, Foley's, was only around 103,000 square feet, far less than the Foley's branches in Houston, which were well over twice the size. And yet it was huge: at the time, Southwood Valley was at more or less the far south part of town, and the "East Loop" was only about nine years old. There was nothing like it in town: Manor East Mall was much smaller and much less ornate, and in an area rich with the oil boom while the rest of the country was in recessionary effects, it was definitely right for its size.

While one of the first promotional materials claimed the mall was "99% Leased", several didn't open until a few years after the mall did.

I am not going to make a "final" version of this post anytime soon, but I'll do my best to describe in the details to which I have. The original mall in the 1980s was not as large as today ("large" being a relative term), it stopped at Wilson's. Manor East Mall was still going pretty strong at that point, having gained the first mall-entranced Wal-Mart store (and first in the county), and it would still do well up to the point where JCPenney left in 1985. The mall also had different tile, which was uncovered in summer 2012 in renovations. There were also large fountains. To see some more photos of photos of the past, including the old 1980s-style skylights that they replaced about 5-6 years ago, check out my Flickr account.

1994 was the year (or somewhere around those lines) when the mall was updated, gaining a new logo, new tile, and neon trim (which were all removed in the 2012 renovations). This list covers the in-line stores from 1982 to 1999 (in theory) using just three directories (a fourth early-1990s map wasn't used but may be covered at a later date). I do intend on updating the list with stores I missed with ads when needed.

The stores tend to move around as you'll notice!

1. Card America - By 1984, this space was not shown on a mall directory, even though it says it was leased. That implies it had an incredible short life, or was not open yet at this time. Was it ever open? By the 1990s directory this was Summit Stationers.

2-3. Oriental Treasures and Rainbow Store - Little is known about these two stores, besides the fact that they probably sold what the name implied. The 1990s directory has this as Command Performance and Spencer Gifts, respectively.

4. D'Guiche Bed & Bath Shop in the 1980s. Lady Foot Locker was here in the 1990s.

5. Accessories by Taz - Besides the fact I think of the Looney Tunes character, this became a jewelry store, Christie's, by the 1990s.

6-13. We're not going to cover these, we already kind of did.

14 is the mall offices/restrooms/etc. This hasn't changed.

15-27. More food court stuff, see link.

16. Sugar Daddy's, a candy store. By the 1990s this was "Beeper Boutique" (I honestly have no idea what this entailed, 1990s beepers? Maybe)

17. The Wagon Wheel, in the food court. See the article regarding the food court (6-13). It was vacant by the 1990s.

18. Merle Norman - Cosmetics shop. I think this one is actually still open in this shop!

19. David Alan's Men's Shoes was here. By the 1990s, this would be "Pretzel Time", a pretzel shop.

20. Sweeney's - Jewelry store. This later became Babbage's (and eventually GameStop, but that's for another list). In better days, Babbage's was a computer store (bought Kid Pix Deluxe here in '96) and less focused on games.

21 & 22 - More food-related establishments, check that article.

23. Cutlery World - No memories or any information on this, but I assume it sold kitchen knives. This became Afterthoughts by the 1990s, which was owned by Woolworth at one time.

24. Wicks 'N Sticks - A candle store. This would survive into the 2000s.

25. Lewis Shoe Gallery - another shoe store. This was absorbed into Wicks N Sticks by the 1990s.

26. Carlyle Jewelers. Gordon's by the 1990s (another jewelry store)

27. Swensen's in the food court. Not covered today.

28. Time Out Family Amusement Center - This video arcade was in the mall for many years. At one point they were owned by Sega and even circa 1989, opened a massive "Time Out by the Court" center in Cincinnati's Forest Fair Mall.

29-31. More food court stands covered elsewhere, though I couldn't actually find 31 on the map.

32. Wild Pair - Shoes. This was a big mall chain in that era. By the 1990s, this was J. Riggings, another big 1990s chain (men's clothing) that fell by the wayside. You can see a picture of the storefront (partially) here at the now-defunct Mall of the Mainland. Beware: the outbound link is still written by me but it's very very old and contains writing that I now find embarrassing.

33. Jeans West - Pants. This was ALSO a big mall chain in that era. This space was absorbed into #32 by the 1990s.

34. Brooks Fashions in 1982. Casual Corner by the 1990s.

35. Lewis Shoe Gallery in 1982. This seems to be vacant in the 1990s.

36. Butler Shoes in 1982. This was a store called "5-7-9" in the 1990s (or 5•7•9)

37. Thom McAn - In 1982, this was a shoe store. Thom McAn was another big chain store in the 1960s and 1970s, and I'm not entirely sure what happened to them. I think they were bought by someone later, as I saw the brand at Sears last time I went. Camelot Music would later be here by the 1990s.

38. Open Country - This was listed under shoes, so I'm guessing something like hiking boots? Payless ShoeSource occupied it later in a reconfigured space in this area.

39. Corrigan's - 1982. Jewelry store. By the 1990s, this became the location of Zales.

40 & 41. These aren't on the map either. The reason for these "missing stores" is likely because the mall was numbered before the configuration of tenants in the mall. Interestingly, 41 (but not 40) was carved out of the old space of 39. This was Adventure Travel in 1990s, a travel agency.

42. This was originally Rox-Z, a nightclub (it's unknown if it opened to the inside or not). A later (by the 1990s) tenant, EyeMasters (which didn't use all the space). I don't know when EyeMasters opened. It was before 2000, as this website mentions, as it was open when Service Merchandise was still there. EyeMasters (now Visionworks) DOES have an interior entrance which suggests Rox-Z did too. Rox-Z was replaced in the late 1980s by something else later, which I swear came across in a phone book that I owned, but I can't remember.

43. This was a vacant, outside-facing exit that was never leased, apparently (ever). Later directories, such as my one from 2004, don't even bother numbering it. In a 1984 directory virtually unchanged from the 1982 preview one, the whole thing (A/B/C) is marked as 43 and that's mentioned as Armed Forces Recruiting.

44. This is where the Army/U.S. Air Force/Marines recruiting offices are now (but not the Navy, that's inside). Interestingly, my late 1990s directory has these spaces marked as A, B, and C, and Casa Olé in space 44 (see below).

45. Casa Olé - CO opened the exact same day as the College Station Weingarten did. One of these remains dead and all but forgotten while the other one still remains alive. Guess which one? That's right, and Casa Olé still remains in the mall, despite middling reviews and a parade of new Mexican restaurants that opened in the years since November 1983. Better Mexican places had fallen since and Casa Olé remains open. It's strangely a bit comforting to have that link to the past, but still...better Mexican food out there. The later 1990s directory doesn't even list 45 at all.

46. Pet Emporium - What the 1983 directory lists. By the 1990s this would be absorbed into 48.

47. This number doesn't seem to be listed. By the 1990s this would be absorbed.

48. Peck & Peck - This was originally a private-label women's clothing shop from New York's Fifth Avenue, but by the time it reached Post Oak Mall, it was being driven into the ground by a new owner (and from what I saw, prices weren't particularly pricey). It looks like P&P's incompetent owners shut down this store in the mid-1980s. This later became Coach House Cards & Gifts (moved from a different location within the mall) along with the former 46. However, the 1993 directory still has Peck & Peck, which means it was probably one of the last ones around (cross referencing with a 2/93 phone book proves this true)

49. Great American Cookie Co., I don't think this has EVER changed. In malls in the 1980s, you could get broken pieces of cookies for fairly cheap, but I don't think they do that anymore and haven't for a long time.

50. General Nutrition Center - This hasn't a whole lot changed either.

51. This was the original home of Scripture Haven and later became home to Bath & Body Works.

52. Original home to Camelot Music and FootAction by the mid-to-late 1990s.

54. (There isn't a 53, either). In 1982/1983, this was "Worth's" by my 1990s directory it later became "Vanity".

55. The original home to J. Riggings, my 1990s directory doesn't have a store listed.

56. Scripture Haven - Scripture Haven is ALSO still there. That's three in a row. SH is a Christian bookstore, which means there's Bibles, Bible-related stuff, and a lot of related junk: candles, Precious Moments figurines, the works. When it opened, it was "Kid's Kasuals".

57. Radio Shack - This has been here since day one (and also still is)

58. Originally "Courts Western Wear" (related to Courts Saddlery?), this later became "Catalena Hatters Texas Store" (another Bryan reference).

60. There isn't a 59 and my 1990s directory doesn't list this one. 1983 directory says Team Electronics.

61. Original location of Coach House Cards & Gifts. 1990s directory lists nothing.

62. Hit or Miss - In the 1990s directory, this was empty, but when it started, this was Hit or Miss, an off-price shop. At some prior to 1989, this had been closed, a result of parent company Zayre Corporation reorganizing into the modern-day TJX Companies. This was a predecessor to TJMaxx in many ways, and possible that it was even closed when TJMaxx opened.

63-67. The Limited took up several spaces in the 1990s (before it closed and was absorbed into the even larger Steve & Barry's space in 2005) but this was smaller shops in the 1980s. Petite Shoppe was in 63 proper, 64 isn't on there, 65 is Athlete's Foot, 66 is T-Shirts Plus, which I think moved from Manor East. 67 was Zales.

68. Royal Optical. This remained throughout the 1980s into the 1990s.

69. Gallenkamp Shoes in the early 1980s. This was unoccupied in my undated 1990s directory.

70. Jo-Ann Fabrics/Singer in the early 1980s. The 1990s map has this vacant.

72. Originally 72 (no 71) was a large store that held Town & Country Furniture. By the 1990s this was Oshman's Sporting Goods, which may have filled in even by the late 1980s. Oshman's was a big sporting goods store found in malls and strip centers all over the Southern U.S. area, but disappeared over 10 years ago when what remained was converted by their parent Sports Authority. Even the old distribution center and headquarters in Houston was demolished for a Walmart a few years back. To get a good idea of what a typical mall Oshman's looked like, watch Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure in which Genghis Kahn trashes one.

76. The Home Front - Much like Bed Bath & Beyond, this offered soft goods and other furnishings (silverware and others). Here's an ad from 1984. You'll notice that I skipped 73-75, because they simply aren't shown. In the 1990s, this was the home of Brazos Valley Troupe.

78. Waterbed Gallery in the 1980s directories. The 1990s directory has this as a vacancy.

80. (No 79), in the early 1980s this was Command Performance, a salon that would jump around several places until finally closing a few years back.

81. Wasn't leased in the original map, and the 1984 map doesn't have a space for it either.

82. Keyboard Center in the 1980s (I'm thinking keyboards as in the musical instrument, not what you probably have in front of you)

83. Motherhood Maternity.

84. Upstage Shoes. I can't find a lot on this store, it was a chain in the 1980s.

85. Walden Books (original location). The store spaces 80-85 eventually combined into the "new" 85, which would be Lerner New York by the latter part of the 1990s.

87. The original "Lerners" was here in the 1980s. This became Lane Bryant by the 1990s.

89. (No 88 either, I can get the feeling they grotesquely upped their perceived store count this way but they probably even had MORE small stores planned)

90. Kinney was here in the 1990s, which almost certainly dates the map to pre-1998 since the division was shuttered that year. Kinney was a charter tenant too.

91. Chess King was here in a much smaller space before it became a large Gap store in the 1990s (ultimately in the early 2010s it would move out and turned back into smaller stores again, and by that time, Gap had become less relevant). Chess King was one of the big men's '80s clothing stores before the 1990s hit and Chess King fell into "checkmate", so to speak.

92. Foxmoor - women's clothing chain found in most malls in the 1980s and early 1990s. This was absorbed into the Gap later.

93 & 94. Gateway Cards and Gordon Jewelers, respectively. By the 1990s the spaces would be absorbed into the Gap, the Gap that swallows all store spaces!

95. The 1980s had this as Quick as a Flash. The 1990s had this as Little Havana Cigar Company.

96. No 96.

97. This was Cinema 3 prior to 1998 (Plitt originally, then Carmike). The Wikipedia article for Post Oak Mall (which I will NOT list) says 1999 but I'm not sure because for years the article was aggressively squatted by a Wikipedia user (the type that seem to literally never sleep). Any confirmations as to when it closed would be appreciated (for years it said 2000, the date may finally be right this time).

98. Jubilation - I don't think this restaurant, whatever it was, actually opened, as nearly my 1983 or 1984 directory list it under restaurants. Despite that, a "Clip and Keep" mall directory from 1984 still listed it. Either way, it later became Chelsea Street Pub & Grill. The 1983 phone book lists "Stadium Restaurant & Bar", so this -may- be it. However, Jubilation WAS open, however briefly, in late 1984 it was open and it was open 24 hours (suggesting that it wasn't fine dining). If that was true, where was Stadium? Were they one and the same? This seems the most likely, as sometimes in phone books, they list what the business name instead of what it operates as (like "Dolar Video" instead of Adult Video). Reconfiguration later this led to be Chelsea Street Pub & Grill, which left the market for a number of years and used to be located in the Fajita Rita's building (which as you know burned down a few years back)

99. The original space 99 was listed as MPACT, which based on my other phone book views seems to be some sort of charge card.

100. Casual Corner in 1982 and American Eagle Outfitters in the 1990s.

101. Absorbed into 102 by the 1990s. Bookland in 1982.

102. Walgreens - The first Walgreens in College Station-Bryan, though the merchandise line-up was slightly different (more drug store, less pharmacy). It departed in the early 1990s (my 11/89 phonebook lists it) and it wouldn't be seen in the area for a decade. When it did return to the trade area, it was in a different format (box type stores with drive through pharmacies). By the 1990s, the space had shifted around slightly, covering a slightly different space. It became a large Express store.

103. Exterior facing store. This was Navy recruiters in the 1990s but "Stay & Play" in the early days.

104. "Fashion Conspiracy" in 1982. No listing in the 1990s directory.

105. Foot Locker in the 1990s and 1982.

107. (No 106) Record Bar (early 1980s), Keta's Hallmark (1990s).

108. Kay-Bee Toys (Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby in the early days). It was already gone by the mid-2000s, long before the chain closed for good.

110. (No 109) Baker's Shoes, and later Gadzooks.

111. By the 1990s directory this was Journeys, but in the 1980s it was classic cheese and meat store Hickory Farms. HF only operates seasonal kiosks these days but they used to do full stores. Most "mall memory" sites involve kids stuffing their faces with the samples here (were you one?)

112. Parklane Hosiery in 1982 (early mall chain) and later The Coffee Beanery Limited.

113. Trevor's (home décor) by the late 1990s, originally the large KG Men's Store.

116. This was originally a clothing store called "Pat Magee's" and by the 1990s (as early as 1993) "Nancy's Unique Boutique".

118. Marvin John's Big & Tall (117) and Shoe Designs (118) were here, they later became the new 118, LensCrafters (still here today).

120. (No 119) Modern Woman (1990s), Women's World (original)

121. Mission Jewelers was here in the 1990s. In the early 1980s it was "Mission Jewelry".

122. Although to the right of 123 (out of order), this was Eddie Bauer in the 1990s. The space where Eddie Bauer was had been a part of Woolworth (see 125). A rare case where a number is in the 1990s one but not the 1980s one.

123. Champs Sporting Goods was here in the 1980s. Interestingly, it later left for a number of years. By the 1990s it was Victoria's Secret, though much smaller than it is today.

125. Woolworth occupied a huge space here for over 10 years. It later went out of business in the early 1990s (still there in '93 and the only one left in town at that point). No 124.

126. Tinder Box (smoke shop?) was here in '82. By the 1990s this was Flowerama, a florist shop.

127. Deck the Walls, a home décor store (this appears both times). This later moved to across the hall (roughly) but kept their number. This was all later of course...

128. Regis Hairstylist in both directories.

129. Aggie Unlimited in the 1980s and Claire's Boutique in the 1990s.

130. Herold's in the 1980s (strange spelling, I know) and The Shoe Dept. in the 1990s.

135. Video Concepts (aka VideoConcepts) in the 1980s, a Radio Shack spin-off (actually not a RS concept when it was leased, but it was acquired in '85). 131, 132, 133, and 134 don't exist.

136. Texas State Optical in the 1980s. By the 1990s this had reconfigured and was a different size and shape. This became Inspirations by the 1990s.

137. Playland Toys (1980s), Sam Goody (1990s)

From this point on, this is going to be the 1990s map only since the Penney's wing didn't exist until 1985. Sometime I hope to get the originals, but until then...

138. Ritz Camera One Hour Photo

139. Waldenbooks. To note, the store between 138 and 139 isn't even numbered, as 138 and that store space were supposed to be lopped out for an entrance to a 7th department store that never came to be. Waldenbooks I'm not sure when it opened but it was noted for having a "Waldenkids" store within a store which seemed to not amount to more than that name on the overhang. Since Waldenbooks survived into the 2000s, we won't cover it today.

140. Keyboards of Texas. (probably "music keyboards" again). This isn't in the 1993 listing nor does it appear in directories from a few years later.

141. The Curiosity Shop. This is listed under both "Books, Cards, and Gifts" AND Women's Apparel.

142. Seems to be vacant.

143. Post Oak Pets. This opened fairly early on (probably one of the first in the JCPenney wing) but closed...2002? I remember the facade had painted clouds on it.

144. Another vacancy. This later became a candy/convenience store but that comes just a bit later.

145. [Sure seems to be a lot of vacancies in the '98 directory over near the JCPenney end...]

146. The final location of Aggie Unlimited.

147. Le Nails.

148. First National Bank of Bryan. Although this survived into the late 2000s, I always felt it was kind of neat to have a bank inside of the mall. Well, they sold out to Franklin Bank Corporation in 2007, which went under in 2008 with all the remaining parts going to Prosperity Bank and somewhere in the scuffle FNB of Bryan shut down.

149. Luby's was here in the late 1990s, but it closed. It may have become something else immediately afterward but remained sealed off (décor mostly intact!) up until it was finally gutted. This begs the's a large space and didn't seem to absorb anything else, because originally (at least in 1989 but not long enough for the 1992 directory) Wyatt's Cafeteria.

151. (150 vacant) The Pro's Choice (shoes)

152. MasterCuts

153. Lam's Silk Garden

154. Botanica

Odds & Ends:
- The 1993 city directory (no map) lists a number of other stores in and around the mall including a mix of the 1985 and 1998 stores but also a few other items. There's "Sharkey's Big & Tall" (Marvin John's, or a different store?), a dollar store (Everything's A Dollar), "Truly Texas" (a Texas shop but not the one that was near JCPenney for a while), Miller's Outpost (a chain), Brazos Valley Crime Prevention Info Center, "Kay's Cabaret" (former Rox-Z?), Golden Chain Gang, "Brooks Fashions" (probably not Brooks Bros., name found in cross-referencing with phone book), BOTH J. Riggings and the Wild Pair, which means one of them had a different location at one time or the directory put both, "Desert Moon Trading Co.", "Bull Pen Sports Cards", "Fashion Fotos", "Jay Jacobs Stores of Fashion" (full name found in cross-referencing), Barry Jewelers, Score (sports-related items), Naturalizer, Fox Photo (was this inside or in a kiosk outside?), McDuff Electronics (another RS spin-off). Likewise with the whole J. Riggings/Wild Pair mix-up, it's also important to note that both Kay's Cabaret AND EyeMasters co-existed which means one of them was in a different place. Naturalizer and The Cobbie Shop were also listed. Military Depot, of all things was here too in the early 1990s before moving to Eastgate. "Espresso Plus" was probably a kiosk.

- The 1993 city directory does list store numbers in the style that the directories switched to in the late 1990s, from which we can glean some neat facts:
5018 was Kay-Bee Toys, which is right where the store should be. 8000 was Payless ShoeSource, meaning it was where The Shoe Dept. later was, and 5000 1st National Bank originally had no exterior exit (space 100).

- The permanent kiosks are as follows, but the numbering was different. In the 1990s directory as shown, K-1 was Jewel Time but in the 1980s was K-5 Tender Sender (wiring money?). Outside of #87 was K-2 (1980s is K-1) but is Gold Post (under Accessories, not Jewelry) both times. K-6 in the '80s but K-3 in the '90s was Just Video and Things Remembered, respectively. K-2 in the 1980s and K-4 in the 1990s was Piercing Pagoda both times. K-5 (1990s only) was the customer service booth. K-7/K-3 (1990s number on the left, '80s on the right until noted) was Sunglass Hut/Sunglass Corner. K-9 (1990s only) was Tropik Sun Fruit & Nuts. K-11/K-4 was D'or International/MPACT while K-12 (1990s only) was Gold 'N Silver.

- I have ANOTHER directory (well, a picture of one anyway) but I have no idea what year it's from. It has Wyatt's, which WAS in the 1993 phone book (but not the 1993 directory), and it's obviously after the JCPenney wing opened. It also has Service Merchandise instead of Wilson's, which isn't that helpful since the JCPenney wing/Wilson's rebrand happened at about the same time.

Anyway. The 1990s directory I was referring to HAD Luby's on it, which given it was not there in 1993 but closed around 1998, so that should give a clue to when it was published.

And that's where you come in...if you could, please write down in the comments anything I missed between 1982 and 1999 (that does not include food court or department stores). I did put in a lot of time trying to write this post.

Other things to note:
- As you might have guessed, packing things into the Texas Avenue article is by and large a failure, so some of those are being split into new posts and such, such as the post the other day.

- Because of the long time in making this post, I may be updating it instead of adding ANOTHER whole post (yikes) which I would update periodically. The reason for this is overlap. On the third hand I may end up making up a whole outsourced page to bring it together. Well, we'll see how many comments this gets and we'll run from there. I may be adding more ads to this anyway.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fuego and Other Buildings South of University Drive

Fuego after a recent repaint. Picture taken by me in July 2014.

This post concerns a few businesses that are featured from the current On the Border to University Drive.

Just past the former Saber Inn is a few restaurants and other businesses.

The next side street is Live Oak, which has a number of other restaurants and services. Behind Taco Cabana was La Barronena Ranch Steakhouse in the 1990s (at 103 Live Oak, no ad, so I don't know if it had a tilde over the n or not), then became College Station Seafood, which closed in January 2011, then became Oceans Bar & Grill, and finally a Vietnamese restaurant called Vy's Kitchen Asian Cuisine in July 2012. This restaurant was the same ownership (and menu) of Vietnamese Taste.

At 607 Texas Avenue, La Quinta Inn and a restaurant share a space. Opening sometime in the early 1980s, the original restaurant was called Julie's Place, and apparently not the only one around since it was Julie's Place No. 139. There's some Houston restaurants that I suspect were JPs at some point. Boasting a menu of hamburgers and onion soup, Julie's Place closed in January 1987 after a murder (there was a story on MyBCS, though I'm sure I had heard it elsewhere about how the manager actually swallowed the key to the safe and the stabbings were to retrieve the key, but I'm not sure on that since that's just a comment on the forum and the official court summary makes no mention of the key-swallowing incident). By 1989, it had reopened as Bombay Bicycle Club (not the 1990s, phone book lists BBC in that era). Around 1996 it became a Denny's.

The La Quinta Inn was previously home to a "super slide" of some sort, but we can't find much information on that.

Next to Denny's was Adult Video at 603 Texas Avenue. Adult Video was a small brick building that faced Texas Avenue on a lot that (apparently) once held three very small houses. Legally operating as "Dolar Video Inc." (as that what's it was officially) and operating out of Irving, apparently, Adult Video had its name in large, red block letters shining out to the Texas Avenue side (the building was where Fuego's dirt parking lot is now). It was a huge NIMBY for years from its opening in the early 1980s, and in 1994, a clerk was shot in the head in a robbery. According to the company profile listed above, it eventually shuttered due to tax reasons (this is backed up by other sources) but I seem to remember that in the final days, the "ADULT" part was removed, with only "VIDEO" showing, possibly (though I can't say for sure) an attempt to go legitimate. It shuttered in 2004. Around 2009, the now-vacant building was finally removed, and along with another house razed around the same time, a restaurant initially filing under the name "Al Carbon Street Taco Grill" appeared. An article that describes the extremely janky operations can be found here, though the date is wrong, it was originally published two years earlier. When ACSTG finally opened later that year in 2010, now Fuego Tortilla Grill, it quickly zoomed to be extremely popular. Despite a poor location and bad parking, Fuego Tortilla Grill became wildly successful, even in light of new competitors on the horizon and a salmonella outbreak in 2014.

Between University and Fuego is Poplar Street (the road Fuego is on) and a U-Haul that served as a Diamond Shamrock from 1989 to around 1998 when it closed due to the road construction (widening) at 601 Texas Avenue.

I am aware of the changes here from the 1960s (more gas stations and different businesses), but the recent past is also interesting. More accurately, I don't any information on those buildings.

Go here for more information on the other side of University Drive! And leave a comment, too.

For even MORE great stuff, we've got new stuff like the Piggly Wiggly next to Kmart and Fish Richards Bakery. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Heep Center

Historic picture looking west. Until 2011, this is very similar to what it was. Then they made Olsen go through there. (Mapping Historic Aggieland)

More photos, mine, in glorious color. Taken 2/2014.
Facing east. This is my best picture
Approaching east.
The skywalks within.
Looking west from inside.
Hi there!

Besides its impressive five-story atrium, this building is also one of my favorites because it's incredibly solidly built. The walls are a foot or so of reinforced concrete, and the whole thing (sans skylights of course) would likely survive a nuclear strike. Heep Center was built in 1977 according to Historic Aggieland.

EDIT 2019: The two halves are named for Herman Heep and Minnie Belle Heep, but they were built at the same time (although it would've been interesting if they were built as two separate buildings and then adjoined later). Here's another link for it...

Monday, June 30, 2014

110-112 Nagle

Despite looking bad, this is about the extent of it.

This building, built in 1963, has seen a lot, including the after-effects of a fire in June 2014, which despite looking worse for the wear, was only quite limited to what to you see here, with Lippman's opening the next day and Jin's the following week.

The Jin's side (110 Nagle) was originally (by the early 1970s, so presumably as opening in 1963) one of the many UtoteM convenience stores in town though by 1980 had disconnected to become the Universal Grocery & Snack Bar, even by the 1990s becoming "Universal Restaurant", though by 1998 it was back to "Universal Grocery" before finally closing and becoming Jin's (at a date I have yet to discover). I didn't take a picture of this, because it's fairly common elsewhere (see Yelp, for instance)

Lippman's side (112 Nagle) opened as Lippman Music in 1994 (guitars and such, not albums) after moving from Culpepper Plaza (where it opened in the 1980s) but according to Brian Lippman served as a bus station in the distant past (the double doors that don't open was a freight entrance). Prior to 1994 it was the original location of Notes-N-Quotes before it moved to the old Exxon.

UPDATE FOR 2019: In May 2017 Lippman Music closed permanently when Brian Lippman retired, with Jin's closing soon after. The building was repainted (but not otherwise touched), and by mid-2018 two new tenants were operating, BonAppeTea (112) and Nam Cafe (110). To help account for these changes, the post has also been renamed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Park Place Plaza

The most activity here in a long time.

2501 Texas Avenue South

This post originally appeared as part as the Texas Avenue page (yes, I tried to cram a lot of things, including a second index, into Texas Avenue--imagine that) and when I was going through as of May 2017 I found this still somewhat error prone. I'll fix this all at some point similar to the Parkway Square post. This is going to be a work in progress since the suite numbers aren't as well publicized as Parkway Square was. The center was built at some point in the 1980s (about 1986) catty-corner to Parkway Square, and was basically its equal at one time.

While Parkway Square had its Kroger, Park Place Plaza had its Winn-Dixie Marketplace. While Parkway Square had McDonald's, Park Place had Kentucky Fried Chicken. Check back to this post when I keep adding new things quietly, because when I started re-writing this in 2017, I don't ALL the information to make this a good post. I don't even have a good tenant list. Imagine that!

The center is divided into four sections. Section A is the side that faces toward Southwest Parkway. Section B is the former grocery store anchor. C begins east of the former grocery store anchor and toward the back. D is the section of the stores in a separate building not attached to the grocery store anchor that face toward the parking lot (direction towards campus).

B101 - This was originally a 45,500 square foot space housing a Winn-Dixie Marketplace. WDM was the company's attempt to build bigger, more modern stores for the 1980s, but unfortunately, the company had expanded too far and built too few Marketplace (or larger) stores, contributing to the chain's Texas pull-out in 2002 and bankruptcy in 2005 (and their future demise?). The College Station store closed before that, sometime around 1997 or 1998. After the Winn-Dixie closed, it was filled with Victoria, Texas-based Lack's Furniture. There's a glowing review by notorious Yelp reviewer Greg D. but the sentiment on TexAgs was that it wasn't missed at all, and it's been proven that Greg makes fake reviews just to get the coveted "First to Review" badge. It closed in late 2010 along with the rest of the locations. The sign hung around (literally) for a little while longer but in 2014 the space was finally filled with two new tenants. The left side, keeping the address, became College Depot (which moved from Parkway Square) and the right side became Planet Fitness. As of May 2017, College Depot is going out of business. As Lacks Furniture did not really help the shopping center even during the best of times, the filling of the anchor space did revive the strip center somewhat. Here's a picture of the co-branded former anchor from May 2014.

C108 - Most recently this was Gun Corps, a consignment store that specialized in guns. It closed after year end 2016 but there was a catch: their inventory was still locked up, and those guns were all collateral for loans and the bank seized everything during the bankruptcy and as of this writing, customers' guns (at the store for repair or installation) are still tied up in legal limbo. Previously it was a short-lived restaurant called Aloha BBQ Hut.

Over on the west side, the biggest thing there was a Little Caesar's Pizza, which held fond memories for me through all of its renovations and continued to be the "go-to" pizza spot for my family until the Rock Prairie Road location opened. Originally, the pizza place had blonde, 80s looking, wood paneling on the walls, this was removed in a 2000s renovation and replaced with black and white tiles. There was also a gumball machine, and for many years had a promotion where if you got a black (grape) gumball, you'd get a free small pizza. I know I won at least once. It was great fun, but probably a bit of a money-loser and it was eventually discontinued (another discontinued item--I last saw the Baby Pan!Pan! around 2005, and even then, the packaging was dated). Prices went up and down for the Hot N Ready, sometimes $5, sometimes $6. Next door to that was a martial arts studio that closed in the early 2000s, became a sketchy video/DVD store for a few years, and then became a martial arts studio again.

Lupa's Coffee can be seen, this filled the old Big Johnson Deli/Quizno's. I read that this used to be a Schlotzsky's Deli back in the 1990s before they moved to near Wal-Mart.
Prospector's Grill & Saloon with its new custom facade.
A Planet Fitness and College Depot now fill the former Lacks/Winn-Dixie.

The Kentucky Fried Chicken in the parking lot moved in the mid-1980s as well from Dominik Drive and renovated in the mid-2000s (exterior and interior). Other than all that, there's not much more to say about the moribund shopping center besides some forgettable shops and services.