Showing posts with label 2000s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2000s. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Veronica's Country Corner


This is so obscure only the blurry 2005 Google Earth image shows it.

I lived in Houston for a little while and because I still had connections in College Station, I drove back and forth from College Station to Houston, and that included a lot of Highway 6 South between Navasota and College Station. That little section of highway used to be notoriously dangerous, as it was a four lane highway with no medians (just a double yellow stripe), and enough hills and little driveways to make it a significant hazard. But for me it was before I was driving and thus nostalgia. Usually the only time we drove on that section was to go to Baton Rouge (ultimately) though Houston too.

I do not lament the passing of the original roadway, though I still can "see" in the minds eye where the exit to FM 159 was, and that was back in 2005 (this is a reference to another one of my old blog posts, though I'm not linking to it). Now, with every thing that goes away, some fond things go away with it. I know that the post up there says "Veronica's", and I promise I'll get to that, but first, an ode to a defunct roadside park.

Despite there being a similar roadside park between Hempstead and Navasota, I do remember vaguely the roadside park in Brazos County. I don't remember much of it, it was literally a little driveway loop off of the southbound side of the road, just south of FM 159. Most of the pavement is actually still there.

Anyway, last week I went to the State Fair and I noticed south of Waxahachie a relatively recent closure of one such roadside park (new barricades, and a construction vehicle parked ominously near the southbound rest area), fresh enough that even Google Earth still had it open. The thing is, as much as there is nostalgia for these things, and I can definitely say that while they were an iconic part of traveling down highways when I was younger just like roadside hotels and restaurants, they are functionally obsolete and to an extent dangerous.

One such park closure in recent years was in Sealy, Texas, with a large road side park in the inner median of Interstate 10 (though the two "halves" did not serve as turnaround lanes). It's not just the fact that people would prefer modern travel centers, restaurants, and gas stations, it's the fact that usually they just breed trouble, with illicit activities and illegal dumping. As for the dangerous part (besides the chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time) the short ramps make acceleration and deceleration a pain, you would not want to pull out of a parking space for someone to be barreling down the strip at 45 mph or higher. That would suck.

The other thing that disappeared during construction was the only gas station between the Exxon at William D. Fitch (still the furthest south gas station on the freeway) and the gas stations at Washington Avenue. I'm not sure when it was built (after 1995) but if it was before the opening of the Exxon/McDonald's, then the "last gas in Brazos County" would be what was a Texaco at Barron and Highway 6.

Veronica's Country Corner, as health inspection records state (at 26000 State Highway 6 South), was demolished around early 2006, and I remember it being extant at least as of 2001 (I would appreciate more information...) and I want to say that the gas canopy was fairly large (the aerials make it a bit hard to tell). Sadly, because I lack photos, ads, or a lot of meaningful memories of it (I never even stopped there), I can't say much about it, and only want to bring it up to make sure it isn't forgotten. If this topic seems vaguely familiar to you, I did "sort of" cover it on the blog a long time ago, in this post, which is now declared non-canon. And speaking of non-canon posts, I'm going to remove the whole "Removed Posts" list because Dropbox has decided not to render HTML pages as HTML pages anymore and your browser will instead attempt to download it. If you really want to know why a page was removed, email me. Yes, the email still works, and almost everyone who has emailed me with historical questions have had them answered. Be the next one, start a trend!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pooh's Park, Tinsley's, and Others Replaced by a Shopping Center

View of the center today


Once again, we come back to one of our blog, this time to roll a few smaller posts into a bigger one. As the picture above shows, the area at Holleman and Texas Avenue is now a large (kind of low end) shopping center. In addition to covering all the changes that went on there (which I have yet to do), I can combine a few older posts into this one. So, first, we have Pooh's Park at 1907 Texas Avenue South.


There's far more to Pooh's Park (no, not related to the "Winnie" one) I can get into today, because it's a popular topic on local nostalgia threads: if you want to learn more, you can head over to Facebook to talk or browse through old photos (and they include newspaper articles!)

I never got to experience Pooh's Park myself, but from what I've seen and read, it was like Chuck E. Cheese, Putt-Putt, and a skating rink (roller, not ice) all wrapped into one. It opened in 1972 and was where the shopping center where Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, and Ross are now. I would like to say that Pooh's Park remained open until it became too valuable to remain (and was getting run-down anyway) and closed in the early 2000s, but no, that's not the case (it is very similar to a certain defunct theme park that closed about a decade ago, though). It closed in by 1989 (at that point, the phone book no longer lists it) and only the sign remained up (with the logo of the yellow dog they had, and not the one pictured above, and the name gone) until around the time they built the shopping center in the early 2000s, and then remained up until a little while afterward.

A 1984 phone book has a different ad that does mention things like a water slide (408 feet) and a different address (at some point, they changed to 105 Holleman, though based on what you can see from Google Earth, and backed up by a picture of Texas Avenue from a local history book I don't have a copy of with me) is that Pooh's Park was accessed through Texas Avenue, not Holleman.

Google Earth 1995, with modern streets overlaid


Some older maps (circa 2001-ish, long after Pooh's Park bit the dust) put a "Pooh's Lane" roughly where the Bahama Buck's is now, but unless that first part of Holleman Drive East was actually called that (after all, there's a few things that do support that, including the odd alignment of Holleman Drive and Holleman Drive East suggests that the East part was first, and then Holleman Drive extended that way later by way of a particularly awkward curve, or the fact that the subdivision nearby (behind the strip center and the other businesses on the east side) is named Pooh's Park Subdivision.

Sharing the address with Pooh's Park (at least the original address) was one "Furniture Liquidation Mart" which closed in October 1985 (The Eagle), and I would guess that this is what Bahama Buck's replaced (it used to be the foundations of another building). It should be noted, though, my 1984 phone book doesn't list it.

Near Pooh's Park was Tinsley's Chicken 'n Rolls.

Chicken done well, chicken well done!

Opening in late 1979, Tinsley's was located on 1905 Texas Avenue but was closed by 1989 after the Tinsley family sold out to Church's, which would eventually close or convert the restaurants (I don't think this restaurant was ever converted). Later, it was Kokopelli's (by 1998), and soon after, the Clay Oven (by 1999), a quick-serve (cheap!) Indian restaurant. This location, unfortunately, was razed for the shopping center, but Clay Oven was already closed by then. I have no actual pictures of what the building looked like in reality, nor do I remember Clay Oven being there at all. Sad, isn't it?

The plane was a real thing, though, David Tinsley used an actual 1930s plane to promote his restaurants, not unlike how Flying Tomato used hot air balloons.

While the "Boss Bird" made a brief appearance in Huntsville (after a long period of total absence), it is now closed (now a Hartz Chicken Buffet). It wasn't particularly to die for (although I think the "dried out chicken" complaints were an over-exaggeration, at least from what I saw in my visit).

There were a few other places on Holleman that later disappeared beyond Jot 59 (see picture), though one of them was a quick-lube auto place (name escapes me).

So anyway, all that was torn down for the shopping center (University Shopping Center, the name of which wasn't promoted), which opened around 2003 (after the H-E-B, I remember), with many of the stores it has today (Hobby Lobby, Shoe Carnival, Ross Dress for Less, Petco). Hobby Lobby moved from their old location at Post Oak Square, with the others being new. There was a branch of Loupot's, CiCi's (which came a few years later, as the old Culpepper Plaza was partially demolished), and a Goody's Family Clothing.

Goody's would close in early 2009 as the chain went under, but it was replaced with a few new stores, Big Lots (returning back to the market, as by that time, their old location at the former Kmart had been closed for several years) and a Twin Liquors (which, despite slightly nicer décor, seemed like a smaller, inferior competitor to Spec's).

Another shopping strip was built around the same time as the rest (but named The Shops at Wolf Pen Plaza) with Starbucks Coffee, a Sprint store (which initially had the older logo), and Champion Firearms (moved from the Kroger shopping center).

Friday, September 25, 2015

108 College Main

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

Dusting off something from a longer post all in favor of integrating into that new "directory" project discussed previously, the space that is "Foundation Lounge" today (which was "Foundation Room" until maybe 2012 or 2013) was a long series of shops and restaurants that I have yet to fully document.

The earliest record I could find for this building was a store called White Auto Store at this spot in 1972.

In the early 1980s, this was a store called The Drafting Board, an engineer's supply shop (reminder: there were less computers than today), which lasted from 1980 to at least 1984 (formerly "News Office Supply", according to a 1980 phone book).

Later on it was called A&M Steak House by c. 1989 (hamburgers, apparently). After that was shortly another store, Condom Station (at the zenith of Northgate's decline). Condom Station may have actually lasted a few years before closing.

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

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 The Groove in the mid to late 2000s, which had live music. The Groove was around as early as 2004 (citing The Eagle archives) and as late as 2007 (Google Street view and a restaurant report card). The Foundation's current ƒ logo used to be a Comic Sans-esque "G". Not counting the name changes of Drafting Board or Foundation Room, that's been 8 tenants over the years, but there's probably more...

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"

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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Marion Pugh Drive

I am well aware of Marion Pugh being a real person, but the story of how Marion Pugh Drive started to become a real road started not so much with the first tenant on the stretch (Marion Pugh Lumber Co. at 101 Jersey Street West, which dated to the 1940s) but rather Tree House Apartments at 205 Jersey Street West. This would turn part of an abandoned railroad right of way (International & Great Northern, from the 1960s) into a paved alleyway with parking for the apartments. These apartments were one of the first apartments (and remain so) catering to off-campus "non-regs", which started in the 1960s.

Treehouse is the ONLY thing that hasn't changed much since this time (Courtesy Henry Mayo)

Marion Pugh Lumber Co. would eventually give way to J. Arnold Construction Co., as Marion Pugh (a former football player and class of '41) would pass away in 1976 at the age of 57. J. Arnold actually had a small railroad crossing just to the south of Jersey, which you can still see today (venture a bit south of the McDonald's and around that area)

Just to the south of that was 102 Luther, Brazos Valley Concrete, and although the concrete plant and the construction company were right next to each other, neither of them had rail access of any sort nor was Marion Pugh even connected between them: only the unpaved right of way (undoubtedly driven on) connected Luther to Marion Pugh.

At 101 Luther Street West was Schaffhauser Distributing Co. (dealing primarily in liquor). Apparently, 102 Luther was once home to the National Guard building, as Fugate's comment is replicated here (seen here).


1 comment:
Grover Fugate said...
Yes Luther extended over the railroad. That road led to the dump. Right across the railroad was a beer distributor on the left. On the right was a National Guard building.
Right past the NG bldg was a place that made charcoal for a while. Maybe two hundred yards back was a pond that we played around as kids. You can get in touch with me via Anne Boykin. I would rather answer your questions via phone or a personal meeting. Ed Hrdlicka was my Grandfater. I lived in his house with my Mom and Dad. The house was right in front of the railroad crossing.
June 19, 2011 3:46 PM


In the early 1980s, the area was officially named Marion Pugh Drive but only extended to about Luther Street West, with Treehouse adopting the new address of 200 Marion Pugh. Treehouse II (400 Marion Pugh, but originally also 205 Jersey Street West into the 1980s) would build soon after next to it, with Treehouse Village (800 Marion Pugh) soon behind, building in 1985. This put a lot of cars crossing at Luther Street West's railroad crossing, which was steep and unsignaled and was even worse after Wellborn Road (until very recently at this time, "Old College Road") was widened in the early 1980s.

At first, this doesn't seem like a big deal--after all, the 1985 map shows how Holleman can be used instead of Luther Street West, until you remember that most of those connections didn't exist in 1985. Marion Pugh didn't extend to Holleman for nearly another two decades, and never did extend to FM 2818 (unless, of course, they used the old ROW as a dirt road like they did for what is now I&GN Road, but I don't have any proof of that).

So the crossing remained with signals but no road for several months until it was finally built in early 1986, and Luther would keep their crossing open until it too was closed off (at which time, I presume, traffic was finally restored between Luther and Marion Pugh).

Sometime during the 1980s, J. Arnold would shut down, but something else would take its place: Amtrak! Amtrak came into town with the Texas Eagle in 1988 and a new station. This train connected Dallas to Houston with only two stations between: College Station (restoring a train stop) and Corsicana. Unfortunately, the train only ran until 1995, when the line was cut. The mural in the train station was moved to A&M Consolidated High School, which unfortunately, I don't have a picture of.


Amtrak didn't last too long. (from an old calendar)


After the demise of Amtrak, the concrete plant (now abandoned) had a few buildings leftover: "Traditions Night Club" wanted to open in 1997, but the city reacted to the word "nightclub" even though by the prospective owners' words it was to be less "bar" and more "normal restaurant that serves beer and wine". It didn't even have a dance hall. Probably for the better as the location was still bad (only way in was George Bush Drive or way out from 2818 via Luther). The restaurant was doomed anyway by harsh criticism from area residents, including the Marion Pugh's widow Helen Pugh. Among the arguments was that "noise, trash, and traffic would be too close to College Station's historical district", never mind that places like the dumpy Piknik Pantry and Varsity II apartments were far closer, and furthermore, around that same time, a McDonald's would build at George Bush Drive (Jersey Drive's new name) and Marion Pugh.

I initially thought this McDonald's near Marion Pugh was a rather strange and ugly specimen. In a misguided effort to fit in with campus, the McDonald's (which was built in the mid-1990s, I'd say) featured a maroon-on-white mansard roof instead of a stock yellow-on-red mansard roof. It would've looked great if the colors were flipped, but they weren't, so McDonald's truly looked like the Aggies on an away team game. Around 2003 it renovated to what it is today. In summer 2011 it suffered a bout of bad publicity when a man ate a meal there and stabbed a little girl on the way out (her father was an employee). The restaurant was also robbed that same day, and said employee later sued because these weren't the only major incidents that happened during that time frame. Yikes. It seems to be doing better now, though. I wish I had a picture of that original McDonald's, though.

At around the same time all this was happening, a "five-story women's dorm" was proposed, this would turn out to be the co-ed upscale "Callaway House", which featured its own parking garage and was the first "upscale" student apartment complex. A few years later, Callaway Villas would build and destroy Luther Street West (or what remained of it) in the process and also extending Marion Pugh to Holleman. The road now featured Treehouse Apartments (in the late 1990s briefly named College Park - Treehouse), Stadium View Apartments (formerly Tree House II), Meadows Point (formerly Treehouse Village and the pre-2005 limits of Marion Pugh), Callaway House, and others. Finally, in 2011, U-Club Townhomes were built, which opened by 2012.

Marion Pugh Drive had been expected to extend all the way to Dowling, which is why another old I-GN segment between FM 2818 (Harvey Mitchell Pkwy.) and Dowling Road was named Marion Pugh Drive for a few years, before it was renamed Jones-Butler Road in 2005 to match the new 2004 Jones-Butler Road, and was ultimately closed after the Jones-Butler segment became Holleman.

Friday, June 6, 2014

301 College Main

Imagine an old white stucco type building here.


Here it is...Rebel Draft House as it appeared in the mid-1990s (I have a color version but it's substantially more blurry). Anyway, as it appears here it was Second Chance Resale operated by the Salvation Army. Before that it was White Auto Parts, which closed sometime in the 1980s.

Of course, it doesn't look like that now. In the late 1990s, the city invested money in Northgate and tore down (I'm saying "torn down" as the footprint is slightly different to be considered "extensively renovated" unless someone can say differently) the old building and erected "Northgate Center", with one of its earlier tenants being New York Sub (not sure on the spelling, nor if it was the same as the New York Subs in Southwest Crossing, though the time frame suggests that they were the same) in suite A. Well, that lasted a few years before it gave way to bars entirely (one bar actually).

I took this shot, which I pictured here in May 2014 looking east (from the other side of the building). While RBD has the distinction of serving me my first beer on Northgate (and that was only because I was on the right side of campus when that bomb threat happened in fall 2012), I don't care for it as it, like all the other bars, crank the music up so loud it's hard to hear anything (the bars probably had their best afternoon ever).

In 2011, this was Luckie's Ice House (and before that, "The Drink", apparently). Between the time as Luckie's and RBD, RBD didn't do much more than just throw the Luckie's sign away. I'm sure I'm missing other tenants, though.

Anyway, as for what it looks now from (roughly) the same angle, I took this picture in June 2014. Big change, huh? The Chase bank sign is just an ATM.


Updated October 2015 with fixed errors and links.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Townshire Shopping Center

Albertsons never lasted long at Townshire, but made a profound impact on it. (BTU)


We finally arrive at Townshire as our latest talking point today, partially to help pad out the still-under-construction Texas Avenue page and partially because it's such a popular topic anyway. Opening in 1958 (it advertised to even Hearne) with Safeway, Lester's, Hotard Cafeteria, Kelly's Toylane, Stacy's Furniture, Texas State Optical, Woolworth's, the "Laundromart", and Sears. It was, of course, the first big shopping destination that started to draw attention away from Downtown Bryan.

The Sears was at a slightly different grade than the rest of Townshire. At only 20,000 square feet, which rather small ("B" class store) for Sears, especially since a "full size" Sears was 10 times that size (the current Post Oak Mall location is around 80k, still on the small side). After Sears moved out, it would become Central Texas Hardware for a while, and eventually classrooms for Blinn (which happily vacated it after their new campus in Bryan was built, as by the time that happened, the building was in horrible condition).

Here's the 1964 tenant list:


Lester's pulled out before the downtown Bryan location did, in 1973 when it moved to a stand-alone location.

Safeway probably moved out in 1977 to its later home catty-corner to where Village Foods is now, and eventually to its current home, where it lasted less than 2 years (at best) before becoming AppleTree (and you know the rest), but by that time, Townshire was already beginning its decline, with Manor East Mall and newer strip centers, like Culpepper Plaza and Redmond Terrace. Finally, Post Oak Mall opened, putting all of the Bryan shopping centers in deep decline. By the early 1980s, Townshire was getting cleared out.

Unfortunately, I don't have too much Townshire information beyond that and a few restaurants that were there. I was told a Goodwill was here for a while, but that turned out to be false intel. In the early 1990s, however, there was Burdett & Son, which moved to Redmond Terrace for a while. There was also Keyser's, a local hobby shop that had a rather long run in the center even into the 1980s, when Townshire too was losing luster.

Townshire reopened in great fanfare in 2002 by the same developers that built the Rock Prairie Kroger center with a new facade and a completely rebuilt north anchor, when the ratty old Sears/Central Texas Hardware/Blinn building was torn down and replaced with the area's third Albertsons supermarket, joining the two in College Station and attempting to give the nearby Kroger and H-E-B Pantry Foods a run for the money. Despite seemingly solidifying the grocery race, since H-E-B had its new store in College Station and two other Pantry Foods locations, and with Kroger's three locations around town, it was an odd choice since at that time. Albertsons was retreating from Houston area (after a short run of less than a decade) and San Antonio, with Waco and Austin (and the breakup of Albertsons Inc.) not more than a few years away (the three stragglers, including the one in College Station, would all close by 2011). For all its fanfare, the new Albertsons at Townshire didn't even last five years, and closed in 2006, becoming one of the shortest-lived grocery stores in town, though not even close to unseating poor Weingarten near Post Oak Mall.

But the new Townshire didn't whither up, despite the loss of its largest tenant. CiCi's and a dollar store (now King Dollar, but not originally) kept trucking, and several service-oriented tenants came in.

Around 2012 or so, the Albertsons gas station reopened as a generic "Tigerland Express", and in the summer of 2013, the new Walmart grocery store finally opened.

Of course, Walmart Neighborhood Market was much more downscale than the Albertsons it replaced, but it was much cheaper and what the neighborhood needed. It didn't hurt H-E-B very much, and Village Foods was having its own problems thanks to some extensive road construction.

Today, Townshire (I believe it became "Townshire" officially rather than "Townshire Shopping Center") is not a thriving shopping center. Sure, the new Walmart brings in a ton of traffic, but the rest of the strip, not so much. Really, besides the CiCi's, a dollar store, and a beauty salon, most of the space is service-oriented or completely vacant (that and the Walmart). Here's some pictures taken in May 2014.

Two former grocery stores, Safeway on the right (I think it's a pawn shop now) and the former H-E-B Pantry in the back (we'll do that when we get there)
AlphaGraphics, originally Tops Printing
Moving my camera toward CiCi's, more shops, none of them too impressive or unique
CiCi's, a beauty salon, and a nail salon
Looking back toward the Walmart Neighborhood Market. You could see the façade incorporates much of the old Albertsons facade, though they painted parts brown. King Dollar is to the right. Apparently, some months after the grocery store opened, Walmart opened a separate liquor store but I neither looked for it nor noticed it.

[Update 6/10/14: I neglected to point out that where CiCi's is now was originally an open-air arcade/courtyard area with a large live tree in it. This was destroyed in the re-do.]
[Update 6/19/16: Walmart Neighborhood Market closed in January 2016 as part of a wave of Walmart closures nationwide. To date, it remains vacant.]

Can you help expand this post?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Redmond Terrace Shopping Center / Texas Avenue Crossing

Texas Avenue Crossing (a name not seen on signage, by the way) is also the only strip center for miles around with rooftop parking. If you have lived in College Station for more than six months, you've probably been here: it has a Panda Express, Cold Stone, World Market, Bed Bath & Beyond, Charming Charlie, Jason's Deli, and DoubleDave's.

But before that...it was different. Prior to 2003 (roughly), it was a completely different center. Opening in the 1960s at Jersey and Texas Avenue on a dairy farm, Redmond Terrace Shopping Center was the first strip center in College Station and featured a variety of stores, including a Ben Franklin five and ten, Brookshire Brothers, a post office, and Gibson's. All of these were housed under a continuous "squiggly roof" (not unlike the defunct discount store The Treasury). Here's one of the few photos I have of the original configuration, from a photo of a photo.


Gibson's, of course, was the main anchor. Not a whole lot is known about Gibson's, as even when its largest franchisee (it was a franchised discount store, allowing it to spread across from Texas to Ohio with a variety of store formats) sued the chain and closed/renovated/reopened its stores (before going out of business in 1986, and some sources erroneously state Wickes BOUGHT the chain that same year).

A few pages do discuss this store, and the Dallas stores even included full supermarkets in theirs. While the Gibson's here never contained such a thing, it did include a garden center and pharmacy, the latter indicated by this December 1971 ad from our very own The Eagle. It may have even had a snack bar.

Get "Monoply" for the kids!


From what I've read, though, Gibson's was a dump (I've heard someone tell me it smelled like tires). If we fast-forward, things started to change at Redmond Terrace...as stores changed, the squiggly roof went away, but only partially, leaving the center very disjointed looking. Academy would demolish or extensively renovate the Gibson's space. Piggly Wiggly would replace Brookshire Brothers and close early on (it was not very large at all, much smaller than even Navasota or Hearne's Brookshire Brothers). The post office was replaced with Joe's Used Books.

Jason's Deli (a Stacy's Furniture for a time, by address) would be on the far right of the center. Other stores included Burdett & Son's and Loupot's, as well as a mattress/furniture liquidator. Here's a picture of Burdett & Son's, in which you can see the original figuration as well.

Burdett & Son was here from 1997 to 2002, as says their website. Copy Corner is off to the right.


At the corner of George Bush and Texas was a Shell gas station with a Zip'N convenience store, but it was extremely small (or am I just remembering this wrong?). This went first with little more than some remains in a raised section of concrete to show that something was here.

Around 2002 or so, it was announced that Academy would be moving out to the bypass and the whole thing would be wrecked for a new center: Texas Avenue Crossing. While one portion was saved and rehabbed (Mattress Giant and Pier One Imports, and I think this was where Jason's Deli originally was), the rest was demolished and built anew, featuring a mostly stable line-up of tenants. If you were looking at it from the George Bush side, the tenants are:
DoubleDave's PizzaWorks (moved from either the Northgate location or Woodstone)
European Wax Center (formerly Urban Salon)
Charming Charlie (originally something else, I think)
Mattress Firm (Mattress Giant, changed names in 2012)
Pier 1 Imports (originally near the mall)
Bed Bath & Beyond (new to the market)
Pine Boutique (for years Ritz Camera & Image, closed in 2012, one of the last ones to close--originally located across the street where Shiraz is now)
Darque Tan (never liked the name of this one--I always imagined cooking on the tanning bed not unlike a clamshell grill)
World Market (new to the market)
Jason's Deli (new location)

On top of Bed Bath & Beyond to Jason's Deli is that rooftop parking area, but it's never been very full. An elevator takes you back near BB&B.

Over at the Shell spot, a new plaza was built with Panda Express (new to the market), Complete Nutrition (formerly "Bath Junkie"), James Avery Craftsman (originally something else?), and Cold Stone Creamery (new to the market).

TAC remains rather popular, having brought new retailers to the market and a popular lunch spot with inexpensive restaurants (Jason's Deli, particularly, remains a popular after-church spot).

I've probably got some details wrong--directories aren't very helpful in this aspect, and I've obviously abridged some stuff, with this article mainly posted to just fill in gaps in dealing with the Texas Avenue post. If I have anything wrong, please mention it in the comments.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

FedMart (Chimney Hill Shopping Center)

Rather desolate now, isn't it? (Photo from KAGS)


Before Wal-Mart, there was Kmart, at least locally. But both were founded in 1962, and in 1954 there was already a "Mart" in San Diego, FedMart, founded by Sol Price. In fact, the late Sam Walton "borrowed" a number of concepts from FedMart, including the "Mart" suffix (the rest of the concept was lifted liberally from Ann & Hope, which ironically Wal-Mart forced out of business in 2001).

FedMart was called such because it was only open as a membership-only store to government employees but this was dropped by the 1960s.

This ad appeared in a publication shortly before coming to College Station. (Google Books)


In November 1973, a few months before Kmart arrived, FedMart came knocking on the county's door and featured "one-stop shopping" including not only apparel, sporting goods, and other dry goods, but a complete supermarket.

Sorry, you won't be able to click for larger size on this one.


There was also an auto center on the premises (the Chamber of Commerce building, though I can't confirm that for a fact)

In 1975, FedMart was sold to German hypermarket operator Hugo Mann, and they tried to run to run the stores like European hypermarkets, which was an untested idea at the time (while stores like Meijer were meeting success with large stores, the new FedMart stores in California weren't, and the rise and fall of hypermarkets would begin with a few years), and in 1982, FedMart closed all of its stores including locally.

The FedMart stores in California were picked up by other retailers for the most part (Target in particular), but the one in College Station wasn't picked up by any other stores (even though Target was in Houston), so it just became a shopping center, this one becoming Chimney Hill Shopping Center. About this time, Gibson's shuttered too. That left only Kmart, the large TG&Y at Parkway Square, and the mall stores as far as discount/department stores went. But the loss was still significant, as it would be another 6 years before College Station got a discount store to functionally replace it (Wal-Mart in 1988), 9 years for another supermarket to show up in that neighborhood (Randall's New Generation store, which would continue as a grocery store for another twenty years) and 18 more years for a store to combine food and general merchandise like FedMart did (Walmart again, 2010--after it expanded to a Supercenter).

The old FedMart met with some success as a shopping center (even including a bowling alley at one time), and later down the road was bought to be redeveloped into a convention center for the city, but that even failed and it dwindled down to little more than the Republic Steakhouse (very upscale, accessed from the east end) and a Western Beverages (in a section that was newly built out from the original).

After the city sold it at a loss, it is currently planned to be a multi-story/mixed-use building. There's a lot on the "after FedMart" years of Chimney Hill which I am either forgetting, glossing over, or simply don't know, but one more story about Chimney Hill remains to be told.

Shakes Frozen Custard. Closing in fall of 2010 and being demolished in 2011, the brick building at the corner of Tarrow and University is no more. The air conditioning gave out and the owner was unwilling to fix it. It did move however under new ownership--to Carrollton, Texas, in the Dallas area, which would still be considered a loss.

701 University Drive East

Editor's Note: Hey everybody! The site is still updating, with some new pictures of TETCO and JJ's. Coming up, we'll take another look at Texas Avenue Crossing, formerly Redmond Terrace Shopping Center.

And don't forget comments!

Friday, March 21, 2014

H-E-B Pantry / Gattitown / DSW

The store today (picture mine). The facade just keeps getting bigger and bigger...


H-E-B built its first store in College Station in 1991 (according to InSite Magazine), a time when they were expanding like wildfire across East Texas and Houston area with "H-E-B Pantry Foods". Unlike the full line H-E-B stores, the Pantry stores were small even by early 1990s standards (averaging 20k to 30k square feet) and lacked departments that other stores had, only with a meat counter, produce, and a very small collection (maybe one aisle) of non-food items like HBA (health & beauty aids) and pet items.

It had a facade that looked very similar to the picture below (this is from a shopping center in Houston, but as of spring 2013, the facade was repainted and replaced with a traditional H-E-B logo--I'm sure that the Pantry name has been totally extinct for the last five years or so now)


Unfortunately, since I have no pictures or even directories (I actually had two at one time, but I don't know what happened to them...if I find them, I'll tell you), I'll have to describe it. Instead of parking spaces in front of it like the other stores in the center, it had a large ramp in front of it for shoppers. Inside, it had mid-rising drop ceilings with a few random "Texas" graphics, such as a picture of a bunch of haybales scattered through a field. The produce was in the right side, there were ten check-out stands (with one being an express lane, 10 items or less), a photo developing kiosk, a "bakery" that didn't seem to make anything that fresh (fare was mostly limited to some tasteless bagels, the stuff that would be sold in the bread aisle today).

The three H-E-B Pantry stores in town (this one, and the two Bryan locations--were somewhat unusual, as at least from my knowledge, they didn't move into old stores, as in the Houston area, they were known to inhabit old stores like Safeway.

In 2002, this store closed and was replaced with the massive and modern store across Holleman.

That wasn't the end for the space, though in summer 2003, Gattiland closed its Bryan location and moved into the old Pantry Foods store within the month. Although I was getting too old to be part of the Gattitown demographic by the time it opened, I visited anyway, because it was new, and it was to be the latest in the technology. Gattitown totally rebuilt the facade (the Texas part remained visible from the back, but unless you lived in one of the apartments behind the complex, you could not see it) and removed the ramp in the parking lot, making it smooth. You also had to enter through the sides.

“When we built [the Bryan location] it was the second GattiLand we built,” Moffett said. “This is the latest generation, and it’s going to be more comfortable and fun for every age. From here on out, they’re all going to be GattiTowns.”

This is the sixth restaurant to open under the GattiTown name and “eatertainment” theme, and each is decorated to reflect its community, Moffett said. At the College Station restaurant, an Aggieland Dining Room will be lined with reproductions of Benjamin Knox paintings. The drink station is positioned beneath a mock water tower, and other rooms include a city hall and a mock movie theater.

The game room will occupy the entire back section of the restaurant, but Moffett said adults can find quiet dining areas in a corner cafe and the Library, which will have high-speed Internet connections and five iMac computers for customer use.

Moffett said he plans to hire a full-time marketing employee to promote the restaurant’s meeting space, which is free to use once customers buy a meal. There also are two meeting rooms set apart from the customer traffic flow, and some of the dining rooms have sliding walls that can divide them into smaller spaces.

The "mock water tower" was modeled after by-then defunct old water tower at the corner of Park Place and Texas Avenue, and as for the "Library", I never did find (employees didn't seem to know where it was, a sign of bad things to come), but it apparently did exist and was soon converted into another theater room. The midway area wasn't all that better than Gattiland, if anything, it seemed smaller. There wasn't even room for a playground. The old style tokens that Gattiland used was replaced by a card system.

Well, initially Gattitown was a huge success and the parking lot stayed packed every Friday and Saturday night. But as the years wore on, Gattitown started to get competition in the form of Chuck E. Cheese which opened at Post Oak Mall in 2005, and at Grand Central Station, which happened soon after. Chuck E. Cheese did the most damage to Gattitown, with Gattitown's knockoff formula competing with the original, and just like that, Gattitown slid downhill just like its predecessor. It was pretty much exclusively for kids (no classic arcades, or even alcohol) for that matter, and even then stayed pretty empty except for the "Kids Eat Free" nights. In July 2012, Gattitown closed. The pizza was now abysmal (not even fully cooked) and Mr. Gatti's left the area for good after nearly 40 years of jumping around town.

It wasn't the end of the space, though: in fall of 2013, it reopened as DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse). Despite the fact that the facade of the old Gattitown/Pantry was completely covered up, the design restored the appearance of a retail store, so if you go inside and close your eyes you can almost remember how the Pantry used to be laid out.

2026 S. Texas Avenue

Editor's Note: Updated as of August 2015, Feb. 2016 update to correct date

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".

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Northgate: The Businesses of Boyett

This post will show some of the businesses of Boyett Road in detail, except, of course, the Blackwater Draw Brewing Company. The problem is that because of the way that tenants absorb each other and the spotty nature of the city directory, it's been exceedingly difficult to figure out what actually went where.

The current tenants in the here and now are the following:
103 - O'Bannon's Taphouse (an Irish-themed pub, if the name didn't give it away)
109 - Paddock Lane
113 - Tipsy Turtle

It's been difficult to find out buildings about this strip simply because they change addresses. For example, there was a Marine recruiters at 105 Boyett in the mid-1990s (likely absorbed into O'Bannon's), and even until the late 2000s there was "Pinky's New School Tattoos" at 113 Boyett. Here a few more ads for your viewing pleasure.

One of the countercultural "back to nature" stores inspired by the late Whole Earth Catalog, this ad is from 1985 and is still around in Houston, Austin, and other major cities...just not in BCS.

Almost a decade earlier, you could get a motorcycle there (University Cycling).

Such a way to respect the elderly. Tact, it's useful!


At 109 Boyett, there was a small café here in the 1980s.

Doesn't sound like a bad place, but I like eating outside when the weather's nice, which sadly doesn't happen very often.

Gizmo's Cafe & Bar: it's from an old copy of InSite Magazine, this is now the site of Paddock Lane. Gizmo's was not the first tenant here, but it's what I have information for.

Above Paddock Lane and Tipsy Turtle is some 1-bedroom apartments, located at 214 Patricia.

Other tenants I've picked up from city directories:
107 - Boyett Properties (this was actually an office)
113 - U.S. Marine Corps (recruiters have been around since at least from 1986 to 2005...and to back it up about the directories being spotty, it wasn't listed in the 2000 one--in 1995, this was the only one on the block). [EDIT 6-21-14: This was "BJ's Package Store" in 1980]
105 - The Cue (found in '96 directory)
103 - Hole in the Wall (2000 directory, I believe it was interconnected with Shadow Canyon)

By no means is the list complete! If I missed anything ("Ozone", "Vertigo" being among the not-here), please mention it in the comments!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Westgate Center

Westgate Center: A Relic of the 1980s (from the lease plan below)


Westgate Center has long been a topic I considered before finally publishing it in October 2013. In the light of the more interesting and exciting things I was doing (at least to me), it just seemed boring, and was kind of hard of research. There's Holick's, which was forced to leave Northgate (heresy for sure), and a few other places, including a Pizza Hut take-out (check out the PDF). To make this integrate better with the city directory I'm building on my other site, this will be a directory of sorts...

BUILDING ONE
4201 - Sunny Food Mart as of 2012, but closed as of January 2014. The 2013 PDF said it was "Oaks Food Mart"
4207 - Pizza Hut (carry out/delivery only?) since at least 1998
4223 - DCI Biologicals has been traditionally here at least since 2010, though I've heard reports it moved or changed names
4243 - Tiki Tan (hasn't changed since I wrote this post)
4245 - official offices for the shopping center

BUILDING TWO
4309 - vacant
4315 - Holick's (moved here in the early 2000s)

BUILDING THREE
4337 - See below

We take a break to explore 4337, a store that at least in the Eatology days was besides itself (all the spaces to the north were vacant, I'd have to make a return trip to see if that's changed). The reason we're talking about it here is it held a legacy of several places, and it was convenient to me since I could disassemble another Tales of Defunct Restaurants as well as re-activate part of the Stover story all in one.

Picture from Yelp

Our story goes back to 2007 when Blimpie was there, but sometime around that time Blimpie "deflated" and the store closed. At the time, Stover Boys, a new burger eatery at the Exxon at FM 1179 and Boonville, was over capacity. Despite a rustic "menu on a chalkboard" theme, it needed space to expand (the parking lot would fill up and people couldn't get to either the restaurant nor the gas station). Stover Boys then opened in 2008 and would be the home base for a growing chain of successful burger joints, and it would be all local. Things were looking good.

A location at the intersection of Graham Road and Highway 6 was discussed, but was scuttled due to a complex and expensive side-mechanism that was due to some draconian CoCS ordinance about having no visible HVAC systems. Instead he went for Square One, which ended up wiping him out (see link below).

Here are some photos (not by me), from Yelp.


This was the best picture of the Stover Boys Burgers I could find. Wellborn location. I can read most of the items, but not ALL of them. (If anyone has a better picture, don't hesitate to tell me)


The original Stover Boys also featured a wall of comic book stuff. Daily Ruckus over at Northgate had a similar concept, but this was far more well-done...and they did it first. Debt occurred from an expensive renovation of Square One eventually caused Stover Boys to close in late 2010.

Soon after the demise of Stover Boys, "Burger Boy Café" moved into the spot. Burger Boy (no "Café" at that point), had been on Church Avenue for the last past 12-13 years (which had previously moved from 301 Patricia), and was sold from George & Tara Sopasakis (long time owners) to Ken Simmons of the "local daycare industry" (in early 2010). In or around October 2010 (about the time Stover Boys shuttered--but don't quote me on that), Burger Boy moved there and became "Burger Boy Café". Of course, this didn't last long, and Simmons closed Burger Boy forever in January 2013, after more than two decades and five different locations. Note that neither Stover Boys nor Burger Boy repainted the old Blimpie parking lot spaces. I wonder if they're still there.

After that, it became home to Eatology Paleo-Zone (though I don't think the "Paleo-Zone" was part of the name initially), which made meals that cater to the "Paleo" diet. Originally, back in 2013, I made a quip about how "we'll see what happens when the paleo diet goes out of fashion" after a pretentious quote on the website by the owner (something about paleo not being a diet but a lifestyle, or some such). Well, not sure if paleo's gone out of fashion, but as of August 2015, Eatology had its letters gone and locked up!


4351 - currently "Wes-Gate Hair Salon"
4345 - was a location of Texas Burger was there, but it closed down in the late 1990s or early 2000s. (Texas Burger is pretty rare--there was one in Madisonville, but it disconnected and became TX Burger). Later home to Home's Haven Catering
4353 - Current tenant is Swamp Tails, a Cajun restaurant that I've found I liked. Names that I can recall or otherwise researched included Barracuda Bar, Salty Dog, and X-Treme

Updated 2015 with some new tenants and altered title

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Alta Vista Christian Academy

3110 Rock Prairie Road West (3110 Gandy Road)

The time is September 1997. Rock Prairie has just recently or is in the process of extending from the stub where it abruptly dead-ended at Victoria Avenue all the way to Wellborn Road. Using the rural back road of North Graham Road was about to end, and in February 1998, a railroad crossing connecting Gandy Road and Rock Prairie Road was approved. It was this time that Alta Vista opened.

The Rock Prairie extension only had a street sign (Wellborn/Rock Prairie Road) and a stop sign (along with a new Exxon station that opened, which included an A&W). Beyond the railroad was a dusty road ending at a yield sign. This was Gandy Road. Though a dusty, rural road, it included the Diamond T Stables and Storage (still with "3270 Gandy" on the address to this day), some sort of facility that looked like a fish farm or water retention (little ponds in the back), and Alta Vista Christian Academy.

My only experiences of Alta Vista came from exploring the new extension of Rock Prairie after it opened circa 2000-2001. The new extension was fascinating: there was a dip in the railroad crossing (as opposed to the "humps" in the others): this was taken out when they expanded Wellborn Road. In the early days of the crossing (circa 2001, I believe), there was a four-way stop at Old Wellborn, and several country-oriented places along the way: including aforementioned Diamond T Stables (still with "3270 Gandy" on the address) and of course Alta Vista (a small private school). The new extension went all the way to North Dowling, and then, on the other side, Blue Ridge Drive, which went even further.

I remember how the old railroad ROW looked in 2001: it was a sad, gated-off place that was kind of creepy-looking, with the (patchy) I&GN Road going the other way. That was the original ending of Gandy (it curved into I&GN). The rest of the way has the partially-undeveloped Great Oaks Estates, farmland, and another trailer park (substantially less attractive than the ones closer to the old ROW).

The entire Class of '98. (picture from The Eagle)


Of course, all that began to change as urbanization slowly crept west. Alta Vista struggled for years, even having to be saved from bankruptcy in the early 2000s thanks to donations, but by the mid-2000s, Alta Vista had folded up and disappeared, with no trace remaining. It's now the Williams Gate subdivision.

Editor's Note: Some of this text comes from The Development of Rock Prairie Road, which will be discontinued. Check for updates on Holiday Inn, Sbisa, and the MSC. The index will be updated soon.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Post Oak Mall, Part 2 - The Food Court

This post is super out of date and has been completely outmoded by the newer Post Oak Mall page on Carbon-izer.com, and even that's a bit out of date. As such, this has been removed from the main index of the website.


A continuation on our newly rewritten Post Oak Mall coverage that we did not long ago, this is about the food court. I first wrote this back in maybe early 2011 or late 2010 (I'm not sure) but I took it down when the "Superpost" was released. It saddens me that Chick-fil-A (charter tenant) is no longer in business, for instance. Little Tokyo is also gone now with no replacement. There's still life left though. Read on.

The food court was much more grandiose than today, featuring eateries on both sides and called "The Gourmet Court". Charter food court tenants included Chick-fil-A, Corn Dog 7, Funnel Cakery, The Great Hot Dog Experience, Giovanni's, Ken Martin's Chicken Fried Steak, Peanut Shack, Pepe's, Potatoes Etc., Salad Bartique, Sesame Hut, and Seafood Shoppe. Orange Julius opened soon after (it was leased but did not open with the mall, apparently), and Taste of the Tropics and McDonald's opened later. I know for a fact that Taste of the Tropics opened a few years after '82, and also Subway opened in 1984 (after the Parkway Square location). Because the food court had been reconfigured at one time (the corridor to the restrooms was different), it's hard to tell what became what.

To make this easier, I'll try to cover the food court starting at what is now the boarded up restaurant (and moving clockwise): this was most recently Little Tokyo, which lasted from circa 2008-2009 to January 2012. It wasn't so bad at first. The sushi was good and very reasonably priced. I even got a menu and scanned it. That old link is from a defunct blog I used to run back in early 2010. Unfortunately, the prices went up soon enough, and they seemed to run out of things on a consistent basis: I tried green tea ice cream here, but toward the end, they never had it. Until circa 2006 (and going back to the earliest days of the mall), this was Corn Dog 7. I wished I had gone there, because I enjoy corn dogs, it is a chain, and I think I would enjoy a foot-long corn dog.

Since Little Tokyo closed, there's been nothing to replace it and it remains with green cardboard walling off the counter. How depressing. With the rent so high there, it's unlikely anything will replace it soon. Ideally, I'd love to see some tasty local option there.

EDIT 10/11: ...and I'm right! Carrera and Stover (see below) will be opening "Salad Sculptors" there, serving gourmet salads and gyros!

Directly next to Little Tokyo/Corn Dog 7 used to be Chick-fil-A, which also was a charter tenant and closed on December 24, 2011 to (you guessed it) high rents. There were other issues too, like the mall not doing renovations (by the time they did, it was too late). It was a bit unique in that it had a small dine-in area with some Aggie memorabilia on the wall, and was a full-featured Chick-fil-A. It was also the first in town, long before the one at Briarcrest was built, or before the campus CFA Express locations. It was replaced with Raising Cane's, which lacked the walk-up area. Now, I have nothing against Raising Cane's: it tastes good and is reasonably priced, but it's no replacement to Chick-fil-A, and I'm sure many agree.

To the right of that is Manchu Wok. Manchu Wok used to be good and also reasonably-priced, but I haven't been in a while. I've heard that the food quality has deteriorated somewhat, but just to be safe, I haven't eaten there yet: best keep my good memories intact. Originally, this spot was "Emilio's" (unknown to what it served).

Moving onto Roman Delight Pizza, which despite its horribly dated appearance (I don't believe that menu board has changed since the early '90s) is reasonably priced and decent (or so I've heard: I haven't actually eaten there). Up until the early '90s, in fact, it was Sesame Hut: so the menu board (sans prices, of course) hasn't changed since then.

Taste of the Tropics has been here since about 2005, it replaced a Subway that lasted up until 2003-2004. Of course, Taste of the Tropics has been here for far longer, but it moved to consolidate the food court more. It's a locally owned smoothie shop. In the early 1980s, this was "The Great Hot Dog Experience".

Speaking of locally owned, we now focus on what started out as a McDonald's, which opened sometime soon after the mall opened. It lasted up until 2002 when it was replaced with a Sonic. The Sonic, which lacked a drive-in for obvious reasons, closed in 2012 (apparently it under-performed horribly). While Sonic is never known for having good food (average at best, I'd say), I enjoyed their drinks and "Happy Hour" specials. After that, it was replaced by Charles Stover's Flip & Peel Burgers & Fries.


We'll go a bit longer on this subject because I have mixed feelings on Flip & Peel. "This Is Not a Fast Food Chain, Because YOU Deserve Better", the menu proclaims. The burgers run in the range of $6-$8 for the hamburger alone. Since opening, they changed the menu, taking out a few tasty burgers and replacing them with "healthier" turkey burgers.

Some of the casualties were the Deluxe Diner Burger (named after a certain defunct Northgate eatery), which had cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mayo, and mustard (a classic tasty hamburger), plus I dislike American cheese. It retailed for $5.99. There was also a smaller "Jr. Diner Burger" that retailed for $3.99.

Another casualty was the $7 "Hawaiian Burger": beef, ham, grilled pineapple, provolone, sriracha mayo, and pineapple sauce. Two salads (both $5, add chicken for $2), the Legacy Salad ("artisan greens", red onion. pineapple, Craisins, sunflower seeds) and Rio Grande Salad (artisan greens, guacamole, pico, cheddar) were discontinued (better than turkey burgers, in my opinion). Finally, two fries also sadly departed.

There was the "S'mores Fries" ($6) that had sweet potato fries, chocolate sauce, marshmallow sauce, graham crackers, and chocolate chunks. Confusingly, "Nutella Crunchberries Fries" ($7, now $4 like other fries) still survives, which has sweet potato fries, Nutella sauce, raspberry sauce, powdered sugar, and Crunchberries (Cap'n Crunch's Crunchberries). This I actually did try and I disliked it. It wasn't because the sugar overload (I can eat an entire bowl of said cereal and feel fine) but the flavors completely clashed.

Finally, there was the "Canadian Fries" (poutine, rhymes with "routine") which had provolone and mushrooms in addition to the classic cheese curds and brown gravy. These were discontinued due to the fact that you can't find cheese curds in the area. I think I remember Stover telling me about he had to import them from a family member in Canada, though I strongly believe it can be found in Houston somewhere.

The burgers are pretty tasty: I'm not too sure about the buns used, the Flip Sauce tastes a little strange to me for some reason, and the price still seems on the high end...but I still wish Charles Stover and Sergio Carrera the best in their venture nonetheless. I also did enjoy Primo Pizza, even though they somehow managed to skip the sauce, and am willing to come back.

It's worth noting that McDonald's was not the original tenant (possibly coming in during 1992, which makes sense from ads over the years). It was, instead, a branch of Pepe's Mexican Food.

At some point the food court was re-configured in terms of where the entrance to the restrooms were. This was a spin-off of Ken Martin's Steakhouse: "Ken Martin's Chicken Fried Steak". You can see Pepe's, Ken Martin's, and others below:


Photo from "rcj0618" on the HAIF, though it's an image from the first issue of InSite Magazine, mirror flipped


Orange Julius was absorbed into Time Out Family Amusement (now American Eagle Outfitters). This probably happened in the early 1990s. Next to it was Taste of the Tropics, which survived into the 2000s before moving to the place it is now (it's now non-food shops, but can't recall what's there currently).

Peanut Shack survived into the late 1980s as well (possibly early 1990s). It was more of a snack shack than a food court place. Some years ago the folks at Labelscar snapped a pic of a Peanut Shack at a small-town Oklahoma mall. It was obviously closed for the evening, but that's what it was.

Smoothies Ice Cream & Yogurt was the actual name of the restaurant and served pretty much what it's name was, including gyros. Ice cream served was Blue Bell. It became "Nestlé Toll House by Chip" circa 2009-2010, and was originally a Swensen's, which like its Culpepper Plaza relative (which also lasted a whole lot longer), served food (hot dogs, burgers) and ice cream.

Giovanni's Pizza was on the north side, later to be Villa Italian Specialties by the 1990s, and eventually, turned into part of Afterthoughts, which became Icing by Claire's, and then Claire's when the two switched places. Where Gymboree's "wall" is today was "Potatoes Etc.". Then, next to it was "The Wagon Wheel Pit BBQ" (now Lids, formerly Hat World). Next to that was one of the first Subway locations in the state and first mall Subway in Texas. It's now Sunglass Hut.

Other food court stores like Salad Bartique, Funnel Cakery, and Seafood Shoppe would replace a few listed above, and even a real Cinnabon once graced the food court in the mid-1990s, albeit briefly. There may be others that I've inevitably missed.



Picture I took in 2008


A more recent picture

As you may have noticed, the food court isn't nearly as large as it was. At least they got rid of the kid's play area (which was built circa 2004?) recently. You can see some directories here. The mall itself as well isn't what was then. Although it still has a dominant on the hold on local clothing stores, it mostly serves as a place to congregate when the weather's unpleasant, which happens often.

I wish the food court would grow again. Gymboree doesn't open to the food court side. I wish Gymboree would move out (after all, there are other "nice" shopping centers that would happily accept it, and at a lower rent, too). That space, the one where Potatoes Etc. was, could become another food court space. A mix of local tenants and "first to the market" spaces could fill the remainder. How about another Taco Bueno? Maybe a Ninfa's Express? A barbecue place? The mind boggles with the possibilities.

Anyway, here are a few updates.

- Our post on the former A&M Consolidated High School / A&M Consolidated Junior High has been updated.
- A comment at the Citgo on Northgate clarifies a bit about the Thirsty Turtle.


Finally, I implore you: I've worked on this a good deal, so if there's anything wrong, anything you want to add, or say: please write in the comments! I've removed moderation for the recent posts, so have at it!