Showing posts with label Supermarket. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supermarket. Show all posts

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Safeway at the Health Department

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

Unlike the still-born Zachry Engineering Center and Scoates Hall posts, we actually have something for this one, even it was hacked together on fairly short notice. The Safeway at the Health Department, discussed over at Safeway and Albertsons in Texas Blog, which is just starting out.

UDPATE: Finally added real picture.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

4300 Texas Avenue

The building in its original form. 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 latter days). First opened in 1963, I can't nail down when it exactly it closed.

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. Now, Jacque's would claim it's been around since 1986, 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.

If I have my chronology right, while the space on the right (suite B) became Jacque's Toys & Games in 1986, while 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 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.

As you may know, Jewel-Osco did operate in College Station as well at a time. While that's been discussed here before, I'd like to introduce you to Safeway/Albertsons Texas Blog, which actually will showcase some of the stores Safeway, Albertsons, and Randalls have had over the years. Check it out!

Updates underway as of November 2015.

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, 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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Last AppleTree

A brief stay as "Food City" (after a repaint). There is a tiny picture of this store as an AppleTree on Yelp. (Source: Stalworth Online)

2001 Highway 21

Rounding out the four Safeway stores that died as AppleTree in Bryan-College Station, today we have the fourth. This was one of the last group of Houston Division Safeway stores to be built, and the very last AppleTree store to close. Read more about it on Safeway & Albertsons in Texas Blog.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weingarten Supermarket, Bryan

From this photo gallery.

This is the old Weingarten building, colloquially Weingarten's (which was on the sign). Unlike the companion College Station store which lasted no more than around 2 months, Weingarten's here lasted for about three decades before it changed hands and closed less than a decade later.

Opening on September 1, 1954, the 25,000 square foot supermarket was not only the largest in Bryan and featured a variety of things unusual at best though may seem commonplace today. These included a self-service deli, a general merchandise department "where the housewife can find everything from work clothes to dresses to cooking equipment", a drug and tobacco department, "magic carpet" automatic doors, a lunch counter, a children's daycare area "where they'll find comic books and other things to keep their attention", and a full-service butcher department. Courtesy of John Ellisor, check out the article from which these great facts were derived from.

While I can't imagine much general merchandise fitting in an area that seems pretty small itself for a grocery store, nevertheless, Weingarten stayed in this spot for nearly the next three decades before Weingarten's owners at the time, Grand Union, decided to divest the division.

The Weingarten was unceremoniously sold to Safeway in January 1984 but I don't know if Safeway rebranded the store or closed it and reopened it under its own name. Confusingly, the store remained open as the Safeway store at William Joel Bryan and North Texas Avenue did so (just a mile north) until that store moved in 1986 to Culpepper North (which would later be the last AppleTree store, ever). Conversely, the one at this location, 1010 S. Texas Avenue (originally 1010 South College Avenue) was one of the first to close. When I first discovered the "fourth AppleTree", revealed by a January 1992 article about the bankruptcy of the chain, I erroneously believed that it was Safeway at Texas Avenue and WJB, which wasn't quite correct. It was this one.

It became an AppleTree in 1989 and closed in 1992 as one of the initial (second round of 5) stores to close in bankruptcy. Later referred to one of the "dogs" when Richard Goeggel, Vice President of AppleTree after it shrank to half a dozen stores, the store would later be reused, first as Williams Furniture Company (see comments), then others.

Part of the store is used to host 1016 S. Texas Avenue, a space used as a nightclub. Some basic Google searching shows that there was "Prime Time Nightclub" and "Whiskey River" recently, the latter predating the former, but not by much, but now it's Rockies (full name: "Rockies The Canyon") moved from its long-time spot at Post Oak Mall. 1018 S. Texas Avenue has been Bingo Barn for years, and at 1010 S. Texas Avenue, C&J Barbecue hangs off of the end, which I didn't get too good of a picture of. Note that despite the visible "old" C&J logo above, it's not the original location--that's on Highway 30, when it was a combination store/restaurant (the store section was dropped in the late 1990s).

The pictures are bad because the sun was setting and I was taking it out of the car window. I want to make another return trip to it, see if I can find more things about it. Mysteries abound still: as shown by the gallery linked above, there's a chimney in the back (and not on the C&J BBQ side either) and a lack of modern loading docks.

I wondered if it had a railroad spur at one time, and that may be actually the case (a spur definitely ran through the area where Advance Auto Parts is, just south of the store). After all, trucks weren't as commonplace in 1954 as today, and shipping things from Brownsville sounds awfully harrowing for trucks in 1950s-era highways. But I don't know of any grocery stores in the 1950s that actually had railroad spurs. If anyone knows more about this store, such as that.

Updated 5/27/14 with opening and trimming of other stuff

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Post Oak Square, featuring Weingarten


This is going to be one of those posts that have gotten many, many rewrites (see University Square or the one involving Fish Richard's), but I had originally started this back in August 2013 and never got around to it because of burnout (at the time I was doing something nearly every day), then I finally finished it up in December, with seemingly conclusive research that the supermarket there was not Weingarten as I had read on one of my websites but rather a supermarket called Mariel's. Turns out I was right, and yet so wrong.

The reason why Weingarten in College Station isn't well remembered is because it ended up being the shortest-lived supermarket in the area, existing from November 1983 to January 1984. On the other hand, Weingarten in Bryan lasted around 30 years.

The intrigue I've had with this building goes back some time, as according to the HAIF's DrFood, "Weingarten's in College Station in the shopping center next to Post Oak Mall. The store was very upscale when it opened. They had gourmet food like Central Market does, a coffee bar, and a huge candy/nut bar. They had a bakery that today would rival Central Markets. Being a Weingarten's they had the only Kosher section in the [greater area]. It then became another name when Weingarten's sold out on the verge of bankruptcy. I don't know what it is now, I think a Toys-R-Us."

After some discussing on message boards and reading other archived material, I erroneously determined that the intel was false, as others independently remembered a supermarket named Mariel's (or the inaccurate "Muriel's").

It was indeed Mariel's, which didn't last too long itself (don't know when it took over Weingarten but it lasted until at least November 1984, as that's when the ads found below are from).

The reason why Weingarten lasted such a short time here (after all, the Weingarten store in Bryan dated back to the mid-1950s) was the fact that by this time, Weingarten had been sold from the original family that owned it (yes, the same real estate company) to another supermarket called Grand Union, which remodeled many stores and built new ones, but decided to pull out just a few years after buying it, and most of the stores were flipped to Safeway.

When it opened in November 1983, Weingarten was on the small side, but relatively upscale

One of the articles here mentions that Safeway took over the other Weingarten in Bryan, but I found nothing else in the January 1984 paper about the exchange (it may have been mentioned somewhere, but I didn't see anything). The reason that Safeway didn't take over this Weingarten was the result of the Safeway at Culpepper Plaza, a store with a comfortable long lease and a great location, and arguably a good thing too...the fact that Safeway bought all these Weingarten stores caused a ripple effect that would end up cutting the Houston division off from the main chain, which was shrinking at the time, to become AppleTree, only for that chain to quickly fail because of all the dated Weingarten stores Safeway picked up.

It cut off "The New" part of the logo. Sorry about that.

Listed as "Mariel's Fine Foods" in the phone book, "Mariel's Home Town Foods" was now competing head to head on "good quality, low prices" like the other stores in town were (Kroger, Six Star Foods d/b/a Piggly Wiggly, and Safeway). Here's a newspaper ad from Mariel's in '84, which was presumably after its fall from grace. Enjoy. Note that although it wasn't the upscale store it was, it still had a number of perks, including video rental (uncommon at the time, though Skaggs Alpha Beta also did it) and grocery delivery (I don't think any supermarket in town does grocery delivery anymore).

Both the College Station Weingarten's and Mariel's are obviously not well remembered, but part of the problem was that there just weren't very many people living on that side of town. Safeway at Culpepper Plaza wasn't very far away and was a slightly larger, more established store in a better location.

For what it's worth, Toys R Us isn't part of the shopping center, and not just because its parking lot is different (this may have been because it was built earlier, but I don't know), but I'm going to try to explain the history of the center the best I reasonably can.

Weingarten, and later Mariel's, was occupied by Hobby Lobby, which moved circa 2003 to its current location at Holleman and Texas Avenue. After it left, it was divided into two stores (1200 Harvey and 1210 Harvey), which at the time was a store called "The BOUNCE!" and the 99 Cents Store, which was expanding heavily during that time. The BOUNCE was a bit overlooked.

The storefront was colorful, but it didn't last. A surviving ad that I found had this:

"The BOUNCE! [is a] locally owned and operated 12,500 square foot party facility featuring your favorite inflatable castles, obstacle courses, huge slides, rock climbing walls and more, all in a safe, climate controlled environment. Four private party rooms with a private jump arena are available. Great family fun! Has diner seating with drinks, coffee and snacks plus WiFi access."

These things tend hinge their existence on birthday parties, and for whatever reason, it failed within a few years (maybe lasting from 2006 to 2009), and I think that it's the same reason why Putt-Putt and Gattitown declined and ultimately closed.

Eventually those two stores became different ones. Burke's Outlet is now the current holder of 1200 and the adjacent 1210 Harvey Road is Tuesday Morning.

Between the Toys R Us and the former Weingarten, there's two tenants I have little to no history on:

1222 - vacant - Closest to Toys R Us, mostly recently housed Sleep Station (which moved)
1220 - Funky Cheveux Hair Studio - This used to (still does?) have a billboard at Villa Maria and College Avenue

Heading clockwise around the center, we have...

1140 - LifeWay Christian Stores - used to be Avenue, a plus-sized women's clothing store. Lifeway opened in spring 2014. It may have absorbed two smaller stores.

1128 - TJMaxx - Here at least 1989 so I assume it was a charter tenant. T.J. Maxx has been there for years, and always had some budget educational software for the Mac on sale (for some reason, CD-based computer software was a big thing in the 1990s, every store had them).
1120 - vacant - Bea's Bridal most recently but it seems to have closed a few years.
1112 - Bea's Alterations - There was also a branch of Wild Birds Unlimited but it closed in 2004 (The Eagle archives, but I can't link to it right now)
1108 - Q Beauty - In 1998 and 2001, this was Treasures Gift Shop.
1106 - Citifinancial - Currently I have no history on this. The tenant used to be shared with Weight Watchers (which moved in March 2015), and Weight Watchers used to be 1104-D. 1104-D turns up "Kristin Dungan", which appeared to be a photography-related store.
1104A - Plato's Closet - This opened around 2009.
1102 - Wolfies - Ninfa's opened in the mid-1990s (January 1995, according to InSite Magazine; the space was formerly Imperial Chinese Restaurant, unrelated to the one on the bypass) before it moved and eventually became Wolfies. It was vacant for several years.
1402 - Mattress SleepCenters - Formerly Pier 1 Imports until the early 2000s when it moved to Texas Avenue Crossing at Texas Avenue and George Bush.
1400 - demolished - Former Cavender's Boot City, moved out around 2006 and NEVER retenanted (it's the blank spot behind Mattress SleepCenters, and nearly impossible to see).

1100 is a strip in front of Wolfies with four tenants - Al's Formal Wear, Edward Jones, Merge Boutique, and Merle Norman. Papa John's was located here for a number of years, then closed (not moved) and was vacant for a number of years. I think it was Suite D (Merle Norman).

Finally, there's one more story to tell, and one I unfortunately got wrong for at least a year, the Grandy's. Located at 1002 Harvey Road, the Grandy's was likely next to Mattress SleepCenters and was where the parking lot is today (if I had a mid-1980s aerial, I could prove this). I think Grandy's probably closed in the early 1990s, based on my phone books. To note, I had read a classified ad in the microfilms that they were looking for older women to be waitresses.

Grandy's isn't found south of Dallas anymore (except Victoria). I believe the closest one is in Italy, Texas, where it shares the building with a gas station, McDonald's, and motel.

(Update December 8th: All references to "Village" replaced with "Square". See an error? Report it! Thanks)
(Update December 11th: Weingarten was found after all!)
(Update January 24th: Newspaper ad for opening added)
(Update August 20th: The Village is added)
(Update December 2015: Removed the Village, as Grandy's was never there)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Skaggs Albertsons / Skaggs Alpha Beta / Jewel-Osco / Albertsons

January 2011. The Albertsons had been closed for about 13 years by this point.

301 South College Avenue

Rhetorical Question: Why am I re-posting this, when I have had it since 2011?

The old post was a mess. I had to keep updating it to have it make sense. It became quite antagonistic for reading. CS Roads and Retail is meant to be something you can read for infotainment, not a reference guide, and plus everything had different addresses.

The old Albertsons that once anchored the center confused and perplexed many Aggies that have been here over the years, so here's the story. While scanning items for Project HOLD a few summers ago, I found that it opened as a Skaggs-Albertsons, with the center being (apparently named) the Skaggs Shopping Center. This was in 1971. I thought that the Skaggs name was dropped later, but what actually happened was a complicated brand name swap: Skaggs was a drug company, and Albertsons was grocery, so Skaggs Albertsons was a chain that had one of the first now-standard food and drug operations. Here's a picture of a Skaggs Albertsons in Florida. The Skaggs Albertsons would remain until late 1979, at which point Skaggs acquired American Stores, thus renaming itself as American Stores, and turned the store into what many people would know it by: "Skaggs Alpha Beta" in fall 1979.

Now, I do have an ad from that era but it's in such unbelievably low quality (for the microfilms, of course) that I'm ashamed to show it to you. Can it be cleaned up with a photo-editing program? Sure. Will I do it? Probably not, especially given at the rate that pictures are ripped off of here on a high basis without "real" visitors. This isn't other people's faults entirely: the new way that Google Image Search works now is rip the image out of context, which is unfortunate.

The new "American Stores" company continued to manage this store until it rebranded it as Jewel-Osco in 1991. Shortly after, Albertsons came back and bought the entire market off of American Stores (they would later come back and buy the rest of the company), and rebranded the store as Albertsons.

And so from about 1992 to 1997, Albertsons managed a store on the corner of College and University. However, Randalls, an upscale supermarket further down University, sold its store to Albertsons, causing the small supermarket to quickly be abandoned (it closed in November 1997, according to Wikimapia), and it continued stand for nearly another 15 years, longer than it had been any name.

Of course, a vacant building won't last forever, and in 2012, it finally began to come down, with demolition halting for months but continuing about a year later. Not much more than the east wall remains as of this writing.

An ad from the brief Jewel-Osco days. Note the "Special Supplement to The Eagle" to the left.

There's even a shot of a Sunny Delight bottle as I remember it, before they changed it to "Sunny D" (and later "SunnyD"). Tangy Original was called "Florida Style" and "Smooth" was "California Style".

Other shots, taken January 2011...

Regrettably, I couldn't get any of the interior on that shot, or any other time: the windows were painted over, and my one shot of the interiors was kind of messed up by the flash, and while it did capture some of the interior in a blurry configuration that revealed rows of fluorescents and columns, it mostly created a reflection of me, which I didn't like.

I had noticed there was a ladder behind Albertsons, so you could climb up on the roof (in theory, of course--you wouldn't actually be stupid enough to go up there, would you?)

Whoa, Albertsons was open 24 hours! Must have been super-convenient, relatively rare (I don't think even H-E-B did when it first opened), and must have been fun to see at night when the bars had closed for the night.

What was left of Albertsons after the first major demo.

The first Christmas at the store.

Albertsons interior. (Official Stalworth Picture)

From The Eagle, shortly after the demo began.

I have even more demolition shots, but there's nothing interesting left. What does it matter? Another piece of our city's history has been wiped off the map.

I'd like to think that even though Albertsons is by far not my favorite store, if it had gotten picked up by Kroger or H-E-B, it would be popular today. Yes, it would be considered small and ghetto, probably be pretty dirty, have a pitiful selection, but it would still be profitable enough to be open 24 hours and have a line-up that's almost exclusively oriented toward college students (a mix that would include cut-rate brands, kegs of cheap beer, and a surprisingly good ethnic food selecton), a store simultaneously loved and hated.

Too bad that was never the case, and the site is now a fenced-off grassy area, returned to simply potential.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bryan's Kroger (Family Center)

This page is under construction

Sadly the only half-decent picture I could find, see source below

2104 Texas Avenue South

Back when I discussed Parkway Square, home of the original College Station Kroger before its closure in 2016, I had some speculation (on at least the older version of the page) if there was a true "Kroger Family Center" at the spot, if it was ever there. the early attempt for Kroger to make a true "supercenter" with a full line of products including apparel and sporting goods. Well, while the College Station one was not a Family Center, the Bryan one was. While Kroger had swept off the general merchandise from most stores, the Bryan one was not.

In a move from the Manor East store, the Kroger Family Center in Bryan opened in 1977 with a wider selection of merchandise.

Well, as it turned out, it actually was a real Family Center until sometime in the mid-1980s when it remodeled into a Food & Drug retrofitted "Greenhouse" style store, with a facade resembling the classic facade. I'm not sure when it renovated, in October 1985 it was still selling the full line (like ammunition), long after Kroger had pulled the plug on many other stores that weren't in its market areas (like Victoria, TX).

A mezzanine level sold clothing, too.

The strangest fact is that there appears to be a significant gap between the closure of this store and the opening of the next. Usually when a store moves, either both remain open (briefly), it can open next day, or a total closure for two weeks. But from the way it looks, it looks like it was closed for about three months.

The new Kroger opened in April 2006 but no mention was of the older store, because when the news came when the short-lived Bryan Albertsons closed, it was mentioned that the Kroger had closed in late 2005. Combined with the fact that the new Kroger isn't meant to really appeal to the same crowd as the Kroger it replaced, it suggests that the Kroger was a loser store but Kroger still wanted to stay in the area.

A few years after the store closed, it was renovated into "Bryan Square Shopping Center". The "fake greenhouse" was retained for the 99 Cents Only Store but the rest of the facade was remodeled. Other stores added in front of the store were Citi Trends and the Dollar Floor Store. There were also stores to the south side of the store, these were not renovated and allow you to see the original facade.

Formerly known as "Kroger: All In the Family Center" before I changed it in May 2013. Updated four years later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Culpepper Plaza / Central Station

This post is a "mega-post" of sorts on Culpepper Plaza (later Central Station) which was opened in March 1976 with a Safeway and a full collection of other retail stores. In late 2006, the redevelopment began on the strip, which was looking pretty shabby (Weiner's, Eckerd, AppleTree, and other major stores had all left), and by 2007, parts of the strip were torn down, and assumed its current name at this time.

Burger King (one of the wood-trimmed-interior ones built in the early 1980s, 1719 Texas Avenue) would move out and be replaced by a new Chick-fil-A, the second Chick-fil-A in College Station (that is, if you didn't count the four CFAs at the time on campus--Ag Café, MSC, Underground, Commons--though they were all "Express" locations) and the first that wasn't part of a larger structure (Post Oak Mall, specifically), and also the second stand-alone CFA in the county. Specifically, Burger King would move and replace an old Diamond Shamrock (the classic old green-and-white design, with the helvetica lettering) at Deacon. To this day, that Burger King continues to be the only Burger King in town, while McDonald's has the area well saturated. The strip center was renamed "Central Station", though people rarely call it that (in favor of its original name or "Kohl's shopping center", which is increasingly becoming more common as Culpepper fades into memory).

I also remember a weird hobby shop that hadn't been remodeled since the 1970s that I remember from the very early 1990s. For some reason I remember a bronze interior and it being fairly dark, too? (It was one of my earlier memories of the plaza...)

My original source, beyond some random forum postings, was this Sanborn Fire Insurance map from the 1980s and some poor VHS screencaps (not just taken from a VHS tape, but photographed near the TV--admittedly it's better than nothing--thanks je):

As one can see from the fire insurance map, however, there's a Hastings, Safeway, and a few other restaurants.

In late 2006, the redevelopment began on the strip, which was looking pretty shabby (Weiner's, Eckerd, AppleTree, and other major stores had all left), and by 2007, parts of the strip were torn down. Burger King would move out and be replaced by a new Chick-fil-A, the second Chick-fil-A in College Station (that is, if you didn't count the four CFAs at the time on campus--Ag Café, MSC, Underground, Commons--though they were all "Express" locations) and the first that wasn't part of a larger structure (Post Oak Mall, specifically), and also the second stand-alone CFA in the county. Specifically, Burger King would move and replace an old Diamond Shamrock (the classic old green-and-white design, with the helvetica lettering) at Deacon. To this day, that Burger King continues to be the only Burger King in town, while McDonald's has the area well saturated. The strip center was renamed "Central Station", though people rarely call it that.

Over on Dominik Drive, there's Culpepper Plaza II (later Central Station 2, it didn't get a lot of renovations), which includes "Shop N Go Food Mart" (a convenience store), a tutoring place (college prep), and Centro American Restaurant & Pupuseria (opened 2012, one of my favorite restaurants). Past places included Poking You Tattoo (closed 2011?), Shivers (second location--this added ice cream to the menu), Hair Extraordinaire, and BCS Bicycles (before they moved to University Square).

Today, Central Station is a thriving shopping center but Culpepper Plaza remains largely forgotten.

The hotel and gas station nearby are not part of the center, and will be covered another time.

We have an ad here. It lists Quick as a Flash, which is strange since not even the parking lot is connected. It shows some things I didn't know existed, including a popcorn shop (in the 1990s, there was a bagel shop), Starships & Dragons (comics and collectibles?), and Singer Sewing Center. This must be (in 1988) just prior to Safeway selling out to AppleTree.

Albert's Hair Design, Associated Printing, Barett Shoes, Clothestime, Douglas Jewelry (before moving out to Gateway?), Lease Town (there was one at Manor East Mall in the late 1990s), Lippman Music (moved to Northgate), Luvz Jewelry, Pop's Corn & More (aforementioned popcorn shop), "Stairship" (sic) Hallmark, Suzannes, U.S. Karate, Wyatt's Sporting Goods, University Bookstore, Cow Hop Junction (a spin-off of the Northgate establishment), and a restaurant called "Singapore"...all haven't been mentioned here before.

There's a better list below that I've created from directory listings and others, but it's far from complete--lots of stores and restaurants aren't even on here.

1505A - As far as back as at least the 1990s, this was the local Bennigan's restaurant. I never ate at Bennigan's, but it had an old mural (of the logo, nothing special) facing Texas Avenue. It survived the Central Station remodeling, but it closed in July 2008 when the parent company imploded. Later, it became an AT&T store, which it is today. This was one of the stores on the "smaller strip" and facing Texas Avenue.

1505B - The location of "He's Cafe" today, this has been serving Asian cuisine for years. From the early to mid 2000s to sometime in early 2016, this was Ping's Buffet. In 1996, this was "China Wok Restaurant". In 1989, In 1989, this was "Singapore" or "Steamboat Singapore", which helps date this map I found (referring to a "STMBT SPR."). (H/T to Andrew Y.)

I've always wondered if the two restaurants were one tenant at one time.

1507 - Swensen's use to be here. One of my fondest memories is the inverted ice cream cone resembling a clown face. It lasted until around 2004. It was here when my parents discovered I could read signage at a young age. It was one of the earliest stores, existing as early as 1979 (it gets coverage in the 1979 TAMU yearbook, a two-page spread!). Eventually, it was filled by Firehouse Subs.

1509 - From summer 2009 to late summer 2014, this was the location of Spoons Yogurt (the FIRST Spoons in the chain). It looks like it was part of Swensen's originally (the space, that is). Supposedly, the reason it closed was a failure to renew the lease. That said, Spoons Yogurt's plans for expansion in later years never really took off--under the name "3 Spoons Yogurt", locations opened as far away as Clemson, SC, Lawrence, KS, and Knoxville, TN, but they all failed. Only the locations built in Texas (Huntsville, Waco) did well and remained open. After Spoons Yogurt closed, it was reopened as Galaxy Ice Cream & Bubble Tea (or Galaxy Tea House). Surprisingly, within a year, Galaxy was "sucked into a black hole" and Spoons Yogurt reopened in the space by late September 2015...and from the pictures I've seen of them on their Facebook page, it looks almost identical to how I remember it.

1511 - Current location of the UPS Store. I don't know what used to be here. In 1980 this was "Mother Nature Home of Nutrition"

1513 - It's likely the address was originally on the smaller strip, which some sources indicate as an address for Dollar Tree. Was it originally here before it moved into the larger strip?

1515 - In 1980 this was Godfather's Pizza. It was gone from here by 1989. I can't find any data on it in neither the '96 directory, the 1980s map, nor present-day searching...I believe it was absorbed into 1517.

1517 - This was "Luvz Jewelers" back in the mid-1990s (as for 1515, I can't find ). Luvz wasn't short-lived, it was around in 1988, as seen in the ad in this post. Muldoon's Coffee House opened in 2009 and closed at the start of the fall 2014 semester, the exact same timeframe as the also-missed Spoons. After Muldoon's closed, it became "Eyemart".

1519 - Supercuts. Has been here since at least '96 (if not longer).

1521 - When I was a kid, this was Pancho's Mexican Buffet. Featuring a little guy in a sombrero, Pancho's was a Mexican buffet restaurant. While I can't say too much about the food, it was a wide open area, with a collection of large, creepy "sun masks" hanging above the food. They were traditional Mexican art, but none of them had painted eyes (just holes) and all of them were staring at the customers. As a little kid, these things freaked me out. My sister also had a traumatic birthday here when she was young (with the "singing waitstaff surprise": you should never let a restaurant know it's your birthday, for children or adults). Needless to say, with both her and me traumatized by separate incidents, we never went here again, and it finally went out by the early 2000s or late 1990s. Around 2002, it was replaced with Los Cucos, a much classier Mexican restaurant, though Los Cucos ended up becoming notorious with a string of issues related to the Health Department. It's still open today, they cleaned up their act. I most recently ate here about a year ago, and I didn't get sick. In the 1980s, the space had been carved between two tenants. One of them was Cow Hop Junction, a spin-off of the Northgate establishment. Not sure what the other one was, but the 1980 directory lists "Little Mexico" for this tenant.

1601 - Home of Rosewood Junction in 1980, this was Mama's Pizza in 1989 (relocated from what is now Torchy's). By the late 1990s, this was Bullwinkle's. Bullwinkle's Grill & Bar was located at the very end of Culpepper Plaza, closest to Dominik Road. It's still talked about on MyBCS sometimes.
Later home to Margarita Rocks (a seafood restaurant, in fact), which closed August 2009 (according to Yelp), it was replaced by Katsuya, a Japanese restaurant opened in late 2010 or early 2011 at the end of the strip (lots of vacancies). It had a short life: it got good reviews, but it had a kitchen fire soon after and did not reopen. The sign was soon taken down after about a year.

It's since been reoccupied but it's no longer a restaurant: TITLE Boxing Club is the name of the game and does all the boxing you can't do at the UPS store.

1607 - 1980 directory lists this as "That Place II". I think it was some sort of hair salon. Today it is a salon as well...Apex Salon and Cuttery.

1611 - H&R Block was here in the mid-1990s and still here (there's mostly vacancies in this stretch, have been here for years). Interestingly, 1609 is also listed for H&R Block, so I really don't know which they do inhabit. Serendipity Shop was here in 1980.

1613 - From early 2012 to early 2015 this was Grateful Dog Self-Serve Dog Wash. Despite constantly advertising on TexAgs, I was not sold on the idea of a dog wash place--with all the effort it takes to load a filthy dog into your car and pay someone for use with presumably hoses and soap, why not just use your hose at home? The place officially closed because the owners were moving back to Dallas (if I read correctly) but I may have a theory on the REAL reason it just wasn't enough to make ends meet. Two years later the space was reopened as Sweet Horse, a "dessert café" with rolled ice cream and bubble tea. Historically, this was once part of (store space-wise) Lewis Shoe Store back in the 1980s (even in 1980). I don't have information on what it was prior to that, I know that it was one of the many vacant stores on that end of the shopping center.

1617 - In the mid-1990s, home to U.S. Black Belt Academy. No info found on the current tenant today.

1619 - Current home to Coach's Liquor. A comment below mentions that this used to be at Highland and Jersey (later George Bush), which I do remember it being there. I always wondered why there was a liquor store when Spec's was down the way. This was Lippman Music prior to 1994 and in 1980 was "Animal World Too" (spin-off of a long-standing Manor East Mall store, which eventually held out onto the very end). Yelp! mentions that the store closed in December 2014 rather abruptly for reasons unknown, and despite the dubiousness of that particular user, the closure is corroborated by the 2015 Google Street View, which shows the note (illegible) and decaying interior (signs fallen down, no open sign, etc.) In October 2017 it reopened as Honolulu Poke House.

1621 - In 1980, this had been listed as "The Seat Cover". Might have been upholstery to cover chairs but I think mostly of toilet seats. Now a State Farm agent (Scot Semple)

1623 - Douglas Jewelry in 1980 and "Triple Crown Sports" in 1996. This was vacant for a while in the revived Central Station but it later became Breezesmokes (styled as breezEsmokes, but whatever), which opened early 2014 or late 2013 (to my knowledge). As of January 2016, it's now Signature Eyebrow Threading (apparently store #4) with no sign of Breezesmokes in that space. It seems like they retreated back to their Waco location (home base).

1625 - American Passenger Travel Agency in 1980 and Linder's High Tech Health in 1996.

1627 - Sandy's Shoes in 1980.

1629 - Aggieland T Shirts in 1980. Seems to be unrelated to current Aggieland Outfitters.

1631 - Originally Hastings (at least back to 1980), which moved circa '98 to the corner of Holleman and Texas Avenue (where it died in 2015). Much of the space it was in is now occupied by P.O.E.T.S. Billiards.

1635 - "No Return" in 1980, which is not the name of a store, but it implies that there was something there once.

1637 - Modern day spot of P.O.E.T.S. Billiards, a pool hall. This survived the renovation. I think it came in around the late 1990s, because my 1993 directory does not list it.

1641 - Wyatt's Sporting Goods in 1980 and "Rick's Sporting Goods" in 1996. Today, the space is still intact, but vacant. It's possible that this was larger in 1996 and not a small storefront like today.

1643 - Painting with a Twist is here today, a "paint-n-sip" studio. In 1980 it was Brazos Valley World of Books Shoppe.

1659 - This was Anna's Linens from the time of the Central Station redevelopment. It takes up half of the old Weiner's. In June 2015, Anna's Linens went the way of Weiner's and closed. It is now Wally's Party Factory as of summer 2016.

1661 - Weiner's from at least 1980 to at least 1996. It was a clothing store. The address and half of the space is taken by Dollar Tree today.

1663 - "Kids Mart" in '96. Modern day location of Cato Fashions.

1665 - Starship Hallmark Shop (a Hallmark store, no relation to Starships & Dragons, it seems) in 1996.

1667 - My 1996 directory scan lists University Book Store Inc., Sew Vac City, and Douglas Jewelers all in one place. Strange considering that the Sanborn Fire Insurance map and the modern day location of Brazos Running Co. shows it isn't very large at all. It used to be Shala's, which closed in 1985. Click for a larger picture, it is pretty small.
This is one of those 1980s clothing stores that went out of business in October 1985. I'm guessing that it died early from the oil bust fallout.

The 1980 directory complicates this by listing Starship Hallmark as 1667 and "A A A House of Curtis Mathes" as 1667b.

1669 - Radio Shack in 1980. Later moved.

1671 - Cato Fashions in 1996, which is still around in a different place. The image above is from a picture pre-redevelopment. In the early 1990s (it closed by '96), it was Colberts. As you can see by the image below, Colberts had some rather outlandish women's clothing. This space was razed for Kohl's. In 1980 it was "Rush R & Co"
...that's for a costume party, right? Right? (1992 ad)

1673 - Radio Shack was here. It closed shortly before the space was torn down for Kohl's. I remember driving here circa 2006 to look for something related to a school project only to find nothing. We ended up going to the mall, which until around the time when ol' RadioShack went bankrupt had one (there's still one in Bryan). In 1980 this was Roseanne's.

1701 - Address of modern day Kohl's.

1703 - One of the shops torn down in the redevelopment, this was The Curiosity Shop in 1980, Career Apparel in 1996 (listed as 1702, that can't be right), and by 1998 Bruegger's Bagels. When it closed, we didn't have a bagel shop anymore. We still really don't.

1705 - "Floppy Joe's Software Store" in 1996. I don't remember this AT ALL, but the comments do. In 1980 it was Top Drawer Pant Company.

1707 - "Right Price" in 1996 and "Regan's Dept. Store" in 1980. Demo'd for Kohl's.

1709 - Eckerd Drugs was an original tenant, lasting from 1976 to at least 1996. Demo'd as well, but it had moved out for some time prior to that. While I'm not sure if Safeway (later AppleTree) had its own pharmacy (it certainly had the space for it), Eckerd was often co-located with the Houston division Safeway stores, sometimes next door. I'm pretty sure that Eckerd did move to 2411 Texas Avenue in 1999, which makes sense chronologically (especially if it recycled its store number, which on the newer store was #382).

1711 - Payless ShoeSource, but died when it was evicted for Kohl's. See the image above (where Cato Fashions was discussed). In 1980, this was the home of Carnaby Square, a women's clothing shop.

1713 - This space has flip-flopped between restaurant use and non-restaurant use. In 1980 it was Trudi's Restaurant (as per the directory) and the spot of Clothestime (in 1996), though this was a CiCi's Pizza in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Post-redevelopment, it was HobbyTown USA (relocated from the Best Buy/Barnes & Noble shopping center) until it closed in January 2016. In June 2016, Nothing Bundt Cakes replaced it.

1717 - FX Video Game Exchange today.

1723 - "Shoe World" in 1996, now Sally Beauty Supply

1725 - Originally also encompassing the modern 1729, this opened as the city's third Safeway supermarket in 1976 and becoming AppleTree in 1989 when Safeway spun off the Houston division. It was my parent's supermarket when they moved into town, but I don't have anything but the vaguest recollections. The AppleTree survived for far longer than the rest of the Houston-based chain of almost 100 stores, as it was one of only six that survived after the company sold off most of its stores in 1993, and it only closed in November 2002 following the opening of the H-E-B down the street, especially since H-E-B trumped it in every category: it was newer, cheaper, larger, nicer, more upscale, et cetera and it was the third to last to close. After it closed, it remained vacant, was extensively renovated on the same footprint when the center was redeveloped (it likely reuses the foundation), and even then the address wasn't re-used until 2012 when OfficeMax moved into the side that Spec's didn't use. To note, this was one of the largest Safeway stores in Texas when it opened. The OfficeMax, store #6501 is currently going out of business as of this writing, presumably so the company can consolidate with the Office Depot down the street.

1727 - Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. This used to be Souper Salad for the longest time. This isn't part of the main strip, this is directly behind the Exxon. Before that, it was 3-C Barbecue.

1729 - Spec's Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods takes up of the old AppleTree and is a newly badged address. This opened in about 2007.

--last update made in November 2017 (1725, 1619, and 1613)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

(Formerly) Village Foods

Village Foods back in the AppleTree days. (Picture from Holcombe of Hidalgo, used with permission)

When this post originally went up back in September 2011, it was a look at a former AppleTree that converted to something completely different...and that "former AppleTree" was a Safeway that was one of the last (if not THE last) in the Safeway Houston division. It might have even opened after the division spun off but before the name change. I really don't know. There was a brief time when the stores were advertised as Safeway, but were "locally owned", probably due to a lingering licensing deal to use the name from Safeway.

AppleTree started out with nearly 100 stores from Waco to Rosenberg, but the crippling debt resulting from the buyout forced the company into bankruptcy in 1992 and sold off its stores in late 1993. For whatever reason, six stores were purchased back and remained as AppleTree stores.

The Briarcrest store was one of these, and it was bought as part of the last six by Tony Kubicek, who bought the name and operations of the stores, with the possibility of even expanding at some point. Unfortunately, this never happened, and AppleTree started to shed stores again. By 1999, only three remained, all in Bryan-College Station. After the closure of Culpepper Plaza's store, it went down to 2. This AppleTree held its own, even having features that no other grocery store did (like making its own sausage), though despite being laden with AppleTree logos and having many of the same employees since the Safeway days (and still does) wasn't like the old AppleTree company (it was unionized, for one).

It's unknown to what exactly went on with AppleTree corporate, but in 2008, the supermarket was sold after Kubicek wanted a lower rate on rent. His landlord ended up buying the store instead, and Jim Lewis, the landlord-turned-owner, decided to make it his own. While the actual change of hands occurred in 2008, there was a "Grand Opening" in March 2009 (I've never been able to find out if the store closed for a reset, but from all I've heard, there wasn't). Around this time, the store updated its dated 1980s department graphics to new Benjamin Knox paintings, and revised the merchandise selection to include more organic (and later gluten-free) items, as well as local items.

VF heavily relied on the "local" schtick considering that the area had lacked a real "local" supermarket since the closure of independent Food Town (not related to the Houston chain) located at 600 North Main in the early 1990s (it was open in 1991, but not too much longer afterward), and the fact that no other supermarket really focused on natural and organics food like they did (gluten free wasn't as trendy when it opened). Already problems were apparent, though, as the mix didn't reciprocate well with everybody. One of the misconceptions that the store had to overcome was that it was some sort of Whole Foods knock-off, which it wasn't, and actually scared off a few loyal customers who (wrongly) believed the prices had shot up, while anyone expecting some sort of Whole Foods-type experience (or even a Sprouts-type experience) would be extremely disappointed.

For a time the original post here went down from the website due to a "conflict of interest" in summer 2013 (guess why?) and then it went back up again with a new selection of photos. For an inside look at Village Foods (including the photos that used to be here), check out the post at the Safeway & Albertsons in Texas Blog.

In 2015, it was announced that an Aldi would join the grocery mix in the area at an undisclosed place in Bryan. Some hypothesized perhaps the underserved west part of town, but instead would be at the corner of 29th and Briarcrest...the site of Village Foods! In December the store announced officially it would close in early February.

People have said that Village Foods collapsed due to competition, but despite being between a huge H-E-B and a huge Walmart Supercenter, I don't think that tells a full story. After all, this store has outlasted the bigger and nicer store at the other end of 29th (that would be Albertsons, formerly a Randalls) as well as the supermarket in between (Winn-Dixie). Heck, it even managed to ultimately outlast the Walmart Neighborhood Market off of Texas Avenue.

There were a number of factors that worked against Village Foods. In 2013, Briarcrest was plagued with construction, which ended up sealing off the main entrance of the store permanently. The remaining "other" entrance from Briarcrest was a bit awkward to turn in and out of since it was shared with the nearby Galleria Village office tower, with the other entrance being a side entrance off of 29th Street. The high school brought riff-raff and fighting into the parking lot.

Their product mix featuring organic, gluten free, and health foods began to become less important as H-E-B and even Walmart to an extent began featuring those types of items. Combined with the already-rough competition with a Walmart Supercenter half a mile to the east, a large H-E-B a mile to the west, and the addition of a Walmart Neighborhood Market within a two mile radius, it was a surprise that Village Foods was able to survive much at all.

Since Village Foods is dead and gone now (and no, despite the presence of Lewis' new Village Foods & Pharmacy at Broadmoor and 29th, for all intents Village Foods as we knew it is gone), I'd like to share a few stories regarding this store.

There are some things that I didn't like about Village Foods, but we won't discuss that (we're here to celebrate its life!)

The store was pitifully low-volume in the last few years of its life, but the upshot of that was that it was never jam-packed like H-E-B is, even during peak times (plus it was vastly overstaffed in the front end). It was still the best place to order more obscure food items, as well. They ordered Cel-Ray for me in late 2012 when I requested it, and it even carried it up until Village Foods closed down in February 2016. I won't forget that sort of service.

The rotisserie chicken was also quite good and was surrounded by delicious pectin (it always smelled great when it was being bagged). Juicy yet not greasy like so many other roti chickens are (I'm looking at you, H-E-B), I'm afraid I'll never have anything quite like it again. If I recall, the chicken did use orange juice as one of its ingredients in preparation.

Since day one, the store had a luncheon area, which for many years created its own in-house pizza (reports are that while unremarkable, it was decent). Soon after the demise of Stover Boys at Westgate Center, Charles Stover was brought on to manage the luncheon and deli area, which was merged into "Stover Bros. Café".

I only went to the pre-Stover deli once--it originally offered "Blue Plate Specials", which were things like lasagna, but Stover soon expanded the menu to include gourmet hamburgers and fries (carryovers from Stover Boys) but unfortunately wasn't able to use/brand everything due to complications from the Stover Boys bankruptcy. Stover changed some things in the deli, including vastly expanding the deli meats and cheeses to the standards of other supermarkets (I remember the part that originally faced the front of the store, which now has Boar's Head deli meats, originally had things like chips, including a brand of tortilla chip I enjoyed). While much of the traffic from Stover Boys was gone except for a small band of loyalists, Stover Brothers eventually built up a new following, enough to talk about expanding the seating (which they never ultimately did do). While Stover was free to build his menu from the stock "burgers and fries" to include more gourmet burgers and unique sliders (and we aren't talking the Krystal/White Castle fast food variety, although neither are in the area), there were some things left by the wayside: the milkshake sales went way down, so their homemade Mexican Vanilla ice cream was replaced with stock Blue Bell "Homemade Vanilla". Also killed was the "White Trash Donut" (later rebranded to "Southern Fried Doughnut"), which was amazing but hard to make (and really bad for you, but that's beside the point). Since the donuts are no longer available, you'll have to do with this description of them. See some early menus and stuff by visiting Yelp. Also, despite Stover's departed presence, many items remained permanently changed, like the potato salad.

2013 did bring the temporary addition of Hebert's Cajun Food, having been evicted of their shack at University Square, and briefly operated out of the "Southern Comfort Road Trip" food truck Village Foods had. There were plans to run it out of a food truck but the last update was close to two years ago. As far as I can tell, Hebert's Cajun Foods is gone gone.

Now that we're done with Village Foods, what happened next? Over 2016, the building was slightly altered, including removing the peaked roof in what will eventually be the Urban Air Trampoline Park (I don't see much construction going on in here), but also adding ALDI to the eastern third of the ~50,000 square feet building (on the left side if you were looking at it head-on), though it completely gutted the building, down to removing even the concrete floor. The only thing really left is the columns, and despite ALDI's fairly bare-bones nature, it is much cheaper and much nicer than Village Foods ever was. Perhaps it will eventually become grody and run-down, but for now, it's a clean, nice store.

1760 Briarcrest

Updated December 2016 for Aldi and removed some other stuff

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Parkway Square

The Kroger's facade was once dated but at least looked okay as compared to this disaster.

This was one of the first posts on the blog, and has of course gone through numerous updates and rewrites (a rather extensive one in 2013 with updates in 2014). The post originally started out with a post back on the HAIF many years ago when I was young and relatively naïve. Parkway Square holds a good bit of nostalgia for me (of course) and all the things surrounding it, including the shopping center catty-corner to it, the hamburger place on the north side that was torn down for what it is now Drew's Car Wash (it was a Redline, but that wasn't the name it had before it closed--and I did discover a real Redline in Dallas recently that looks almost like I remembered it here), Fort Shiloh, the Days Inn, Manor House Inn, and the closed-down Royers' (note that none of the aforementioned posts were even thought of when this post was originally published).

In 2016, the center was updated, giving the Kroger a repaint to make it look miles nicer after an unfortunate stucco disaster, as well as giving a new roadside sign, replacing its dated early 1980s signage with something that is bland but at least modern. This lasted a matter of months.

Construction on Parkway Square seems to have taken a long time, it opened in 1982 (from what I've heard from DrFood, and confirmed by KBTX, but I also wonder if this is one of those "self-confirming things" where KBTX just "researched" it here) but construction was announced in 1979. Part of the problem must have the drainage, as the parking lot is built out of numerous concrete "squares" sitting on top of a drainage area.

Aerial of shopping center being built, from Project HOLD

Growing up in the 1990s in College Station was a time when there was a wide variety of supermarkets, where there was an H-E-B Pantry, two Albertsons stores, a Kroger, an AppleTree, and prior to around 1997, a Winn-Dixie and a Randalls. Of course, none of that mattered if you only went to two. For me, those were the H-E-B Pantry at Holleman and Texas Avenue (now a DSW) and the Kroger.

H-E-B Pantry of course was nice and homey, but it was Kroger that was the cooler, better one (even if it was older), and that was the anchor that was always there at Parkway Square, so I'd like to share a few words about it. It was a classic "Greenhouse" Kroger with "bauhaus" lettering if I recall correctly (there are lots of Flickr pictures related to that and what they mean), there was a red stripe running the perimeter of the store, the deli/bakery area (it was a small, combined department, and still is) had some seating near the entrance to the video department (more on that later), and the entrances and exits were very small and simple. One door in, one door out, operating by spring-loaded carpets. This was at the far right end of the store (that is, if you were looking at it from Texas Avenue). They had large arrows on them.

But enough on Kroger for now, we'll discuss that red stripe and all in a second. To maintain compatibility with the Texas Avenue directory I made, I'll have to start from the Firestone at the corner, which I'm not sure is actually part of the shopping center.

2400 - Firestone is on the corner at Brentwood and Texas Avenue. It renovated sometime in the mid-2000s or so, but about the time it happened, we had quit going there (it was once the "go-to" spot for car fixes for my family--until a management change). It appears it is the original tenant, as it was listed in the 1984 phone book.

2402D - The combined 2402 space (all tenants) is taken by "China King Buffet". This used to be Old Country Buffet, which I never liked, even before I stopped liking (and started hating) Golden Corral. I think it closed circa 2004, along with others in the state. It later became China King Buffet by the mid-2000s, which I remember eating at once. It was bland, and seemed overly large for the space, but I don't remember getting sick from it, which is probably why it has still stayed in business without any name changes (it did "renovate" once though). It remains open as of July 2016, though the recent renovation took away its distinctive "peak" shaped storefront from the OCB days. I might have a picture somewhere, I should add that in a future update. I actually think this was originally a Chinese restaurant originally...there was originally one "B B's Chinese Restaurant" in the early 1980s, though sharing the address of Firestone (which did exist at the time and was new) instead of its modern address, 2402-D.

2404 - RAC Rent-a-Center has been here for the last several years. It absorbed old space from other retailers, like Paradise Scuba, which was located at 2404C prior to moving to the old Putt-Putt site in 2008. At 2404B, there was Champion Firearms, which moved out around 2003 when the new center with Hobby Lobby and Ross Dress for Less was built.

2406A - Resale & More is here and has been here since at least around 2009. I don't remember what was here before it.

2406B - Jackson Hewitt moved here after 2008, it used to be closer to the Southwest Parkway side.

2406D - USA Nails I believe has been here for a long time, possibly changing its name from another nail salon.

2408 - The original 2408 (please ignore the typo on the official PDF) was a TG&Y Family Center.

It was a larger version of the TG&Y five-and-tens (basically, a discount store, which almost every five-and-ten did). It's worth noting that the parent company of TG&Y sold out in October 1985 (same time as this ad), so I'm guessing TG&Y didn't last much longer here.

After the closure of TG&Y, it (eventually) became Gold's Gym and a hobby store(?) called Amber's, and after Gold's moved in the early 2000s, it became Harbor Freight Tools and Dollar King, which both opened circa 2003-2004. Amber's would close around the late 1990s and become Stein Mart. Today, Harbor Freight takes 2408A, King Dollar next door takes 2408D, and Stein Mart takes 2408B.

2410 - Initially a location of "Chuck-E-Cheese Pizza Time Theatre", which was gone by 1989, with the area not getting another Chuck E. Cheese until the year 2005. That means, of course, that growing up, I never got to have any birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese because it didn't exist in my town, but that also means I wasn't traumatized by any scary animatronics, the same ones that would be the inspiration for the cult-hit survival horror series Five Nights at Freddy's. (If you're reading this, I do plan on playing it when I get a new computer, and I'll make a review for it on Carbon-izer...despite its repulsive fanbase).

After that it became one of the more intriguing concepts in the history of Kroger supermarkets that I've never seen anywhere attached video store called Family Center Video, though admittedly the set-up was pretty useless. Because of the differences in elevation between Kroger and the video store, about three feet, there were stairs and a ramp (it may or may not have been ADA compliant, at least by today's standards), but the ramp was usually gated off, meant for those with disabilities and not for those with big shopping carts. I don't think I saw ANYONE actually transfer between the Kroger store and the video store, especially considering that it wasn't near any checkouts or entryways inside the Kroger. It probably would've been cheaper to demolish it and drop it to Kroger's level, which would let it be used for food and drug space, and perhaps ultimately save the store (see below).

FCV disappeared pretty quickly after the arrival of Hastings (probably closing 1999), and the space sat empty until Half Price Books moved in around the early 2000s (2003/2004), and that was after the Kroger moved in. If you walked in HP Books near (ironically) the video section, you could notice a slight depression when you walked near the wall. In the original (carpeted) video store, there was a counter near that, in the far left end, plus a big metal "cage" in the middle of the FVC. This was where the kid's videos were, including Pink Panther shorts, Barney, and Bananas in Pajamas. The video store closed in the late 1990s (1998, 1999), perhaps because of the fact that you couldn't buy groceries at the video side, or vice versa, but the restrooms were kept into the Half Price Books era, and may still be there. The Half Price Books replaced it circa 2003/2004, and was there up until 2011. In 2012, it became "College Depot", which sells A&M branded stuff (always a popular choice) and items for dorms (a good idea, actually), and despite being a bit pricey, it ended up moving up to a slightly larger place when it took to half of the old Winn-Dixie/Lacks in mid-2014, and 2410 has been vacant space.

This is looking straight through to the old entrance from the Kroger. Prior to the video store's closure, there was a small area with seating.

2412 - The biggest tenant of the plaza, Kroger, is just a bit over 46k square feet, which is far smaller than the H-E-B, though it was larger than the Pantry. In July 2016, it was announced that the Kroger would be closing forever in August. Seeing how it's the largest and one of the longest-lasting tenants in the center, let's talk about it a bit.

The history of how this Kroger came to be is a bit murky, as it was a former "Greenhouse" store (image links for those who have no idea what that means) but was also known as "Kroger Family Center" through most of its life and had a store number (997) usually assigned to those were full-fledged Kroger Family Center stores, like the one in Bryan was .

Originally a red stripe ran the perimeter of the store, which I loved as a kid. Notice in the hack job of a renovation they did, they didn't even bother getting identical tiles.

One more thing I remember was that the milk area contained a lower ceiling and was tucked in a little corner of the store, forced down that way by the beer aisle (which, by the way, was once rumored to have sold more kegs than any other supermarket in the nation). Little plastic mock-ups of milk (and an orange juice) displayed prices. I've never seen anything like it since.

The floorplan resembled, except for the aforementioned entrance to the video store, the "Superstore" design in terms of floorplan (and some other people on this page back that up).

The Kroger was unofficially known as the "Kroger Family Center" even into the 2000s, even though they never had the Family Center merchandise mix, it was planned to be so, even gaining the store number that the Family Center stores had instead of the common early 1980s Greenhouse stores. I don't believe it was ever a Family Center, as it was built as a definite Greenhouse.

This is where the original exits were. You had to go straight and then left out through tiny doors.

Produce bags had nutrition facts printed on them (of fruits and vegetables), they had sample cookies, which were better than the store-bought pre-packaged stuff and did make shopping at Kroger a pleasure in my growing up years, and the bottom of the cart was spacious enough that even a 9-year-old kid could fit in there. Well, around 2001 or so, it renovated (very cheaply) to a then-contemporary décor package and rebuilt the facade so that there could be offices above the old "greenhouse" area, and pretty much meant that everything about the Kroger that was cool was gone, and it became just as dated as before and still not nearly as nice as the Kroger Signature to the south or the new H-E-B to the north.

Were these tiles even touched? Gross!

Most of my visits to Kroger post-renovation have been for convenience. I remember being mildly impressed post-renovation in early 2002, when my brother took me there to buy some dry ice, but it got dated and dirty VERY quickly, and most of my subsequent visits have been disappointments. It wasn't anything like the Rock Prairie Kroger or the H-E-B. The produce was sub-par (with a "little too ripe" smell), the international foods section was a disappointment (they put taco seasoning in this department), and generally everywhere else was slightly smelly and generally disappointing. When KBTX announced the closure, I was a bit surprised that it would come this soon but also had a twinge of sadness, as this was, after all, my childhood's Kroger.

2414 - To the left of the Kroger growing up was Roly Poly Rolled Sandwiches through most of the late 1990s and early 2000s (the sign remained up for a long time after closure...I believe it closed in the mid-2000s). I always thought it was a one-off, but it may have actually been it was one of their first franchises, because I remember it probably as early as 1997. Roly Poly sat vacant for a while, then it became "Next Level Sports" circa 2008-2009 (mostly tennis), and after that BVMMA (Brazos Valley Mixed Martial Arts). I believe it's vacant again, after BVMMA moved to the mall a few years back.

2414A - Texas State Optical has been here for as long as I can remember, probably even as far back as 1996. I would have to pull out my directory scan to confirm that though.

2414B - Based on what I could find, it looks like TSO has absorbed this space, but originally this was The Cork Liquor Store (mid-1990s at least) and became Whiskey Charlie's in 2009 following a purchase of the local stores. Liquor stores usually did good business next to supermarkets as Texas law prohibits hard liquors and spirits on grocery store shelves, and every supermarket in town has a nearby liquor store that supplies the "harder stuff" you can't get at the store. For the College Station H-E-B, it's Spec's (even though it's a stoplight down), for the Tejas Center H-E-B it's Libations, for the Tower Point H-E-B, it's Whiskey Charlie's #3, and both College Station Albertsons had Western Beverages nearby, as does the Bryan Kroger. The Rock Prairie Kroger likewise has a nearby Spec's (formerly JJ's). The closure of Whiskey Charlie's in about 2012-2013 should've been a red flag that the Kroger wasn't going to make it.

2416A - Like China King, this space (a restaurant) takes up the 2416 space as well. Honey-B Ham & Deli (not to be confused with "Honeybaked Ham", a chain) was here for a long time. In late June 2009 it closed and was replaced with Taz (though not immediately), an Indian restaurant/buffet. I finally ate there in 2015 (and the first time I had goat in well over a decade), ate too much bread, and saw some bizarre (some would say paranormal) incident where a bowl of yogurt sauce managed to slide in a curving, non-friction way toward me even though the table wasn't slippery or leaning in that direction.

2416B - Advance America Cash Advance is next, and that used to be a Christian bookstore in the late 1990s and early 2000s, though results are turning up for a Pack & Mail. Maybe it was Smoothie King that the bookstore was in.

2416C - Smoothie King was here in the early to mid 2000s before moving to near the College Station H-E-B. Later on, it became My Party Palace (I believe around 2007-ish, since the chain was founded in 2005). It was part of a chain out of the Austin area to do princess-themed party planning for young girls, but it ran headlong into the recession, and all eight other locations closed. The College Station location was the last to close, closing in December 2014. The space is still vacant.

2418 - On the corner sat the Baskin-Robbins. It faced both the main parking lot and Southwest Parkway and had doors to both. Featuring "thirty-one-derful flavors", this was my favorite ice cream parlor for years. I had fond memories of this place. Anyway, Baskin-Robbins became "KaleidoScoops" around 1999 (though I swear it was a year or so later), the "32 Degrees: The Ice Cream Club", then just "32 Degrees" until it closed entirely, which was maybe 2004-2006 (by this time Cold Stone had opened up). Later on this was replaced with Corner Cuts, as it was the corner and they did do haircuts...but later they changed names to Classic Cuts (in spring 2016).

2418B - Then there's Gomez Shoe Repair (originally Cobblestone Quality Shoe Repair, I vaguely remember when they changed the name, but I forgot when). I can't find a 2418A either, probably because where 2418A would be is just a wall. Despite what the leasing plan says, I'm pretty sure that whatever was before Advance America (possibly dating back to the first tenant) used the space there and walled it off.

2418C - This has been more or less vacant for a while, between late 2009 (when they signed the lease) and 2011 (when they were locked out), this was Moosegus. I believe this used to be the original Subway (see Subway's entry further down). In the previous version of this, I claimed they never opened. I was wrong, they did! It was a skateboard/wakeboard/snowboard store. The immediate problem with that it was for a market that didn't exist. At the time it opened (late 2009/early 2010), the skateboard park there on Rock Prairie didn't exist, the wakeboard park off of Deacon didn't exist (and still really isn't open yet in many aspects as of this writing), and snowboarding? know the answer.

2418D2 - This was Farmers Insurance, which I think was the old Jackson Hewitt. The latter was intact in 2008, and had opened several years prior to that, but by 2008 the sign was rather faded. It remains vacant today.

2418D - This Subway store the first Subway in the state of Texas, sort of. By sort of, I mean, it was originally on this side of the shopping center but at some point in the mid-2000s (after a logo change but before 2007), it switched from just a few spaces down. It's store #628 (the others have numbers in the thousands), and although it switched slots in the shopping center, the first Subway in Texas is in the shopping center on Southwest Parkway. I learned that when applying for a job at a local Subway (as Centex Subway did a group interview...and my old early 1980s phone books later confirmed) and although I ultimately didn't get the job, it was still a really neat piece of information. I seem to remember a store called "Beepers" (or at least the facade being called such) being around here until around 2000.

2418E - This was the former Buck's Pizza, closed circa 2010. They left the menu board intact, which you can see below. Never ate at Buck's all that much, but they had okay pizza rolls when I did have it. (For what it's worth, Buck's was here in 1998). As of 2016, this is becoming a noodle restaurant (guess they got rid of the pizza equipment)

2418F - For many years, this was FabricCare Cleaners. It had a drive-through window, but it moved in the mid-2000s, and became Tobacco Junction, which utilized the drive-through but closed after less than a few years. The awning was removed and I believe this has been vacant since.

Besides the Kroger fuel station which opened a few years after the remodel (maybe 2005), the only other thing worth noting is the McDonald's, which is technically not part of the center.

2420 - Based on the fact that McDonald's ads in the October 1985 paper list the only two stores at the time (University Drive and Villa Maria, both of which were torn down and rebuilt about a decade ago), but a 1984 phone book did show this store being built and open, suggesting that it was opened around the same time of the Kroger shopping center after all). It had an extremely cramped and strange ramp orientation regarding the drive-through, so when the McDonald's was completely rebuilt around 2005-2006, the playground was removed to alleviate this situation. The playground was the worst: it wasn't much more than a wooden structure resembling a spaceship. You climbed up, looked out...and that was all. My brother claimed it replaced a much cooler and better playground. When it was rebuilt, there wasn't a playground at all, just a couple of Nintendo GameCubes with things like Mario Kart. Within a year or so, the controllers (they had been fixed in with metal) were so dirty and worn out. The control stick, for instance, looked like it had been chewed off.

The sign is fairly unique as well--it was originally a full McDonald's sign, but it was destroyed by a windstorm circa 2009-2010. It either had gotten grandfathered in from new sign ordinances and couldn't rebuild, or maybe McDonald's was just cheap--but they removed the damaged golden arches entirely and replaced the "McDonald's Restaurant" sign with a new simple "M".

Note the fake owls mounted on the roof to scare off birds that roost on the stoplights at certain times of the year.

This photo makes the area surrounding it seem leafy and green. Not entirely trickery, a large tree was once adjacent to the McDonald's, torn down for widening of Texas Avenue. The butchered sign is in the background.

So that's my story of one of the most nostalgic -to me- shopping centers in this area, as this stretch tended to be my stomping grounds growing up. I hope you enjoyed it. This post featured extensive updates in July of 2015 and July of 2016.