Thursday, February 20, 2014

104-115 College Main

Remember when I redid the Northgate page, and cut out all references to College Main? Well, those days are over, and this has now returned to this page.

I personally despise the way College Main is set up these days: it used to be a normal road, with sidewalks, bike lanes, and two lanes. In summer 2012, while they made the part of College Main going up to Old College a lot prettier and functional (sidewalks, well-lit, bike lanes, etc.), they turned College Main into a pedestrian mall, which doesn't get a lot more foot traffic, and history has shown that turning streets into pedestrian malls often kills them off instead of saving them. Oh well. However, since this College Main has mostly deteriorated into mostly bars, it probably does make more sense, in a way.

104 College Main - Antonio's Pizza by the Slice

Beginning as Court's University Shoe Repair in the 1930s or 1940s (an archival photo that I can't find right now), the current tenant history has this being vacant in 1993, being divided between a Lacey's (jewelry store) and "Perfect Tan III" by 1995 (there's also a photo of these two that I don't have up either). By the late 1990s, this was "Byte Me Computers" (according to a 1997-1998 plan of the Northgate Promenade, which showed nearby buildings). It became Antonio's Pizza by the Slice in the early part of the 2000s, which has decent and reasonably priced pizza. It also offers Coke products, something the university hasn't in a number of years.

105 College Main - The Law Office of Drew Gibson & Associates
In the same building as Northgate Barber Shop, this used to be Software Exchange back in the mid-1990s and Julia's Silver Boutique around 1998. The 1972 directory says this was "Zubik Tailors". In 1989, this was "Custom Creations by Hullabaloo".

106 College Main - Hookah Station
For many years, Hookah Station was the location of Holick's boots. When Holick's moved out in the early 2000s (2002?) to Westgate Center, the painted "Holick's" on the side of the building remained. Unfortunately, Hookah Station trashed the building both in terms of historic qualities and physically.

When it was sitting vacant and clearly falling apart, it somehow still looks better and classier than the pit that's there today. Holick's even had maroon-and-white awnings, a nice touch.


From Flickr, user "treyerice"



107 College Main - Northgate Barber Shop
This barbershop has been here for years (since at least the early 1970s!). In the late 2000s, there was "Northgate Barber Shop Too!" at Holleman and Anderson, but that has since renamed to "Maroon & White Barber Shop"

108 College Main - Foundation Lounge
In the early 1980s, this was a store called The Drafting Board, an engineer's supply shop (reminder: there were less computers than today), and later became a restaurant called A&M Steak House by the late 1980s (hamburgers, apparently). After that was shortly another store, Condom Station (at the zenith of Northgate's decline). I'm not sure how long it lasted, but it wasn't long.

"We've Got You Covered" is what the small text says.

Courtesy Project HOLD. Sadly, those funky oversized handlebars don't exist anymore.

This was Dead Lazlo's Coffee Pub in 1995, which lasted a few years too. A newspaper article I read (I don't have it with me but if it turns up, I'll cite it) mentioned that Dead Lazlo's was owned by Sweet Eugene's House of Java which is still alive today. Given how crowded Sweet Eugene's gets, if they still owned a coffeeshop here on Northgate under any name, it would do spectacularly well.

Copacetic (or Copasetic, I've seen it both ways) Café in 1998, and Foundation Room later (which has even more recently changed to "Foundation Lounge"), but not before briefly becoming a bar called Groove in the mid to late 2000s. The Foundation's current ƒ logo used to be a Comic Sans-esque "G".

It should also be noted that the Drafting Board was formerly "News Office Supply", according to an old phone book. A 1972 directory mentions that this was White Auto Store at this spot.

The row

109 College Main - Sarge's
Sarge's moved here in the early 1980s. It used to be Aggieland Studio, which was a portrait studio like University Studio.

110 College Main - Social Lounge
In 1989 this was a Chinese buffet called Taipei Express, and soon became a large record shop called Marooned, which remained throughout most of the 1990s. After Marooned was closed, by the early 2000s, it was a Quizno's, but that didn't last very long, and became V-Bar circa 2005-2006.

Courtesy Project HOLD

In 2007, the V-Bar was embroiled in an attack that left a Rice Owl basketball player dead and his brother injured in which someone stabbed people during a bar fight. The media was very sympathetic to the brothers at first, but later on it was revealed that the attacker, a Marine, stabbed them in an attempt to get them to stop beating his fellow "Marine brother" to death. Compare the full story ("Ex-Marine not guilty ", March 11, 2010) to earlier reports. By the time Ronald Johnson was cleared of murder, the V-Bar was on its way out (if not already).

It became Social Lounge, which it is still is now. The picture is from Project HOLD, which shows it as Marooned. The windows have since been bricked up.

Despite a much older photo as evidence, a 1972 directory indicates that this was "University Shoe Repair" (not 104), which is also strange since it's one of the larger spaces on Northgate.

111 College Main - Gatsby's on Main
Gatsby's space hasn't moved around much. Thanks to its current sign, it says it's been there "Since 2004", and prior to that was Aggie Cleaners. Gatsby's is currently celebrating of being on College Main for 10 years, though Aggie Cleaners had stuck around for at least 30 before that.

Courtesy Project HOLD, mid-1990s

112 College Main
A non-existent address these days, but it was listed as "University Cleaners" (not to be confused with Aggie Cleaners). It would make sense if this shared the space with the new location of University Shoe Repair.

113 College Main - Kyoto Japanese
This used to be Disc-Go-Round, another record store, and before that, ProTutors Incorporated. Records also mention that this was the first police station of College Station. Despite (what was then called) Kyoto Sushi's ramshackle appearance (sometime around fall 2012 or spring 2013 it stopped serving sushi entirely and is only open at night as a sake bar), it used to look even worse. In spring 2014, it changed to Kyoto Japanese. It's still a sake bar, but is a Korean restaurant called The Bulgori now during the daytime. Ironically, this still doesn't serve sushi--that's found over at Aggie Time to Go. Also worth noting that in the early 2010s, most of the building was painted yellow.

115 College Main - The Law Office of Drew Gibson & Associates
This business isn't here anymore. There's an almost-gone "Aggieland Studio" mural on the side of the building. As you can see in the shot below (when the building looked even worse), there's a sign that says "Paradise" above it. That was Paradise Scuba. It moved to Parkway Square in the mid 1990s (soon after that picture was taken, my 1993 phone book still has Paradise Scuba as being in Northgate) and eventually moving to the old Putt-Putt location. As of this writing, it looks like 115 College Main will cease to exist thanks to a recent New Development filing of 113 College Main renovating the second floor. In the late 1980s, it was the last home to On the Double (actually I think it was 113), after it moved out of the space above Farmer's Market.

2007 Google Street View with the unpainted bricks but no ugly facade

Last days of the original "Kyoto Sushi"

EDIT 4/6/14: The Bulgori is now closed (unknown status of AT2G) but the sake bar continues. I did eat there once. Decent food (got a menu!), some good sides, soup included, even a slice of blood orange.

Hopefully, I'll fill the rest in with pictures that are kicking around on my hard drive somewhere. Enjoy what's currently here for now, though! Leave comments if you can, especially on those businesses that I've inevitably missed. For more Northgate fun, click the link below to see all posts tagged with "Northgate".

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ardan Catalog Showroom / Rolling Thunder / Gattiland / Thunder Elite / Planet Fitness

The former Ardan/Gattiland/Thunder Elite (and current Planet Fitness) as it stands today.

This place in Bryan-College Station is best remembered (at least to me) as Gattiland, but the history of the building goes farther beyond that, and we'll start there instead.

One of the more deceptively popular webpages that have hung around for years is DISCOUNT STORES OF THE '60S, a part of "David P. Johnson's House O' Retro", specializing in really bad 90's webpage clichés. Well, most of them are from the Midwest with names that disappeared decades ago and have virtually no familiarity to anyone living in Texas. Well, almost. Around mid-way that first page, you'll see Ardan Catalog Showroom, which I originally believed we got in Bryan in the 1970s or late 1960s. According to a comment below, the Bryan store came in-line in 1980, which explains why the pre-1980s Newspapers.com showed nothing.

One of the ads Ardan ran locally, from November 1983. This, coincidentally, is a great example near the apex of when the video game industry crashed and retailers were forced to sell cartridges at low prices.


While I can't vouch for the name changes that the Des Moines branch experienced, nor can confirm or deny that this location featured a supermarket (update, it didn't), it did in fact exist in this location. Ardan Catalog Showroom went out of business at some point in the late 1980s, presumably 1986 since evidence backs that up.

Originally called "Ardan Crossing Plaza" (which shows that the Travis Landing name didn't come in until after Ardan Catalog Showroom bit the dust), but based on the references (or lack thereof) to University Square, I'm not even sure anymore.


Ardan Catalog Showroom ad from 1985. Note the new logo, and that Des Moines isn't listed.


By 1989 and heading into the early 1990s, the space (or at least part of it) became Rolling Thunder Skating Rink, a roller skating rink that lasted for a few years, and now we return to our story that began with Mr. Gatti's on Northgate, the opening of Gattiland in '96. I don't believe the rest of the old Ardan Catalog Showroom was EVER utilized again. Some small tenants in the east part of the old store probably did come and go, but Gattiland did not cover the whole area.

Gattiland was the place to have fun/birthday parties/etc. (as Pooh's Park was dead and gone by this time, leaving little but the sign) for anyone growing up in College Station between the late 1990s and early 2000s. Oh yes, it was definitely something: there was a large buffet and a regular eating area, the party rooms, a large room that showed Cartoon Network on a projection TV (remember, this was Cartoon Network of the late 1990s, which is still spoken of very highly), and the "Midway", which had the prize booth right as you went in. To the back was the bumper cars and a huge McDonald's Playplace-type playground, only larger (with one of those things you could grab and push off and it would slide down the metal rail: I don't know what it's called). There was also air hockey and tons of games, both redemption type games and arcade games (including several linked Daytona USA arcades). Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the inside but I can remember most of it on the inside and could probably describe parts of it to you if asked nicely (it was the purple bumper car that was put in storage in the later years, for example).

Well, it got really run down pretty quickly, and I remember hearing around in 2000 or so (at the time, of course) some hoodlums coming in one day and damaged a bunch of machines (some of them never worked quite right after that). By the time it moved, the playground was dismantled and a bunch of stuff didn't work. In 2003 it moved to College Station and renamed to Gattitown (which will continue here). The building sat vacant, became "Thunder Elite", a kids gymnastics/cheerleading place for a while, too, though it eventually packed up and left as well (new location).

Google Street View

In mid-2014, the former Gattiland/Thunder Elite space became Planet Fitness, which prohibits grunting. It also gave part of the facade a purple paint job which didn't match the rest of the plaza.

So that's it for Gattiland, Ardan Catalog Showroom, and the like. Pictures are welcome, you know...

1673 Briarcrest