Showing posts with label bryan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bryan. 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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alas, Luby's

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


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

But Luby's is the one with the history behind it. A full page ad had been taken out for its opening, describing the restaurant that didn't have waiters or waitresses.

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

Enjoy the pictures I took in and around the restaurant shortly after closing, taken May 2014.


4401 South Texas Avenue

Editor's Note: Hey! If you didn't already see it, check out the updated "McDonald's at Northgate" page.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Highway 21 Truck Stop

3401 Texas 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

Palace Theater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

That's what today's post is about.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Exxon on Boonville


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

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

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

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

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, February 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

Google Street View

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

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

1673 Briarcrest

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, November 20, 2013

Square One


Remember when we talked about Stover Boys over at Westgate Center, and Charles Stover acquiring Square One Bistro?

Square One was a restaurant in downtown Bryan that was probably the first non-Mexican restaurant to enter downtown Bryan, beating even Mr. G's by one year. Square One at first seemed like a great fit for Charles, as it was what he always wanted: a small fine dining establishment. Square One was primarily Italian cuisine.

However, as it turned out, the Square One Bistro building in horrible shape: wiring was antiquated (the building was built in the early 20th century, expansions to the building were powered with extension cords) and the plumbing was in poor shape (pipes went up before going down--which has all sorts of potential problems, including grease build-up and sewage backups), and Stover had to spend an astronomical amount to fix those problems.

Nevertheless, the renovations were well-received: Yelp! reviewers were pleased at the fact that everything was redone so nicely. The ubiquitious BCS Yelper, "Greg D." said as much:

As it turns out the new ownership has remodeled it, respectfully. Gone is the chalk board menu (which my wife missed), gone are all of the mismatched tables and chairs adorned with cheap Walmart dinnerware, replaced with black table cloths and red cloth napkins and heavier silverware that feels much better. And little white candles at each table. Gone is that annoying breezeway folding wall-whatever it was and now what do you have? A dimly lit much wider open space with the romantic meter shoved up dramatically setting the stage for remarkable food that the "old" Square One proved that they can pull off. All with the perfect music at just the right level. The staff now operating with a sense of urgency in new uniforms were all pleasant and helpful, service was remarkable and relaxed.

Unfortunately, this renovation marked the beginning of the end. While Stover Boys and Square One were both profitable (Square One's wine list grew from 10 to 110, and offered class and variety like no other area restaurant did), the problems stemming from Square One's renovation caused the owner to go into debt and it just got worse. Instead of turning profits and fueling what could be a prosperous chain bound for great places, the profits were funneled into debt payoffs. According to an old The Eagle newspaper, in October, Square One closed down and converted to the lower-end but more profitable Stover Boys brand, but it was far too late. Stover Boys was crushed under debt by late 2010, and the Westgate and Downtown Bryan location shuttered.

At the time, great debate ran on TexAgs on how Stover "destroyed" Square One, without taking into account said expensive remodel (or the fact that Square One possibly would've closed if it hadn't been for Stover).

After the shuttering of Square One Bistro, the building was reopened in Summer 2011 as "Square 1 Art Studio". There's loft space above the gallery on the second level (don't know use during the Bistro days).


The historic name of the building is the Ward Building, unfortunately, I haven't found out too much about it.

211 West William Joel Bryan Parkway

Editor's Note: I had meant first NEW restaurant. Unfortunately, this wasn't caught until I had been called out on it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Parker-Astin Hardware

The passing of Parker-Astin Hardware (alt. Parker-Astin Hardware & Gifts, 108 North Bryan Avenue) didn't go unnoticed here on this site (the "Gifts" part was known even back in the 1970s), so I added a picture I took to memorialize the store. I'm happy to say I went into it once but unfortunately didn't take any pictures, and pictures are pretty rare today (sorry). An alternate photo of the facade can be found here. Other than that, I've got nothing, and this is no longer "canon" to the blog since I don't really have enough to give a write-up on it.

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Grins at 4410 College Main

4410 College Main

Find the error with the times of operation!


Grins was another quasi-Northgate establishment further up College Main in Bryan, and reportedly hosted some great live entertainment acts in its day. I've heard that the only "drinking" opportunities they had was Coors Light, so I'm guessing the food wasn't too fantastic either. The above advertisement came from November 1979. By 1984 (may have been as early as 1982), it was Dr. G's, unrelated to the later Mr. G's, Dr. G's ("The Remedy", it advertised) offered live music, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and Mexican food (likely beer, too, though the ad didn't mention that). Still later it became Brazos Landing Seafood Grill & Bar (seafood, salads, and burgers--the ad mentioned swordfish, hamburgers, grilled shrimp, blackened chicken, salads, "and more").

Other tenants that I could find and confirm included: Venetian Blind Hospital (or Sturdi-Craft Co.) (1947). Know any others?

Today, the spot is Junction Five-o-Five, which despite its name, isn't a bar or other entertainment establishment. A picture of the current building was taken in June 2014 by me.

updated june '14 with new photo and some new info


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

4405 College Main

I have a picture, it's just not available right now. Please stand by.

4405 College Main is a bit in an odd place, an area that is both Bryan (technically) and Northgate (colloquially). Today, it's completely abandoned, but it wasn't always that way. The building was built in 1985 according to Brazos CAD and was divided into two suites.


For years, 4405A was the laundry (College Main Wash & Go) as the main tenant and hung on for a bit until it closed at about the time they started rehabbing College Main (which to me was a pointless project since, because they closed off the vital portion between Patricia and University Drive, it went nowhere. However, since it was Bryan's project, they can't help it if College Station botches their end of the road. By 2014, it was converted into the i-Stop convenience store but within a few years, i-Stop had shriveled up, leaving the center completely empty.

While I don't have phone books for the late 1980s (except 1989) readily available, it appeared that before the more well-known Thai Taste (which occupied B for most of the 1990s), "Carrie's Kitchen" was at 4405B. Details on Thai Taste are still sketchy, but I seem to remember from reading on forum postings that Thai Taste closed in the mid-2000s on College Main, but the name was bought and it reopened on University Square for a few years. Then it became Vietnamese Taste (dunno when it opened, but it was around in 2006--this also kept the "Taste" part of the old sign). Vietnamese Taste closed in May 2012 (roughly) and reopened as "Vy's Asian Kitchen Cuisine" behind Taco Cabana a few months later. So far it's gotten decent reviews, but I've never eaten there (still, it was there for more than 5 years so it must be doing something right).

Updated August 2017, formerly "4405 College Main: Thai Taste, Vietnamese Taste, and a Laundromat". The rewritten article features a new photo, a new restaurant, new information, and a confirmed opening date. It also removes parts referring to then-contemporary articles.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Captain's Half Shell Oyster Bar / The Boat / Shipwreck Grill

206 West Villa Maria Road

I don't have a contemporary picture on file, but that shouldn't be too hard to find. Ad from The Eagle, October 1985.

Shipwreck Grill, as you may know, advertises on extensively on TexAgs.com, is relatively popular, has been since fall 2009, and the owners, Wade and Mary Beckman, and eventually opened a second restaurant (Amico Nave) directly across the way where a hair salon had occupied an old restaurant for years. (perhaps there's hope for NailSpa?)

While in the immediate years prior (maybe since 2004 to about 2007) it was "The Boat", a seafood restaurant, which repainted the formerly blue boat tan (as well as adding an enclosed bar area, apparently), it was originally "The Captains Half Shell Oyster Bar" back in 1985, with a rather limited menu (all seafood, something The Boat did but Shipwreck Grill does notably not do), and still held that name a decade later. Eventually the restaurant called it quits and the "boat" sat abandoned for a few years.

One more thing for you...according to tax records, just prior to Shipwreck changed hands to become "Melting Pot African-Caribbean Cuisine". Certainly sounds intriguing, but unfortunately, I'm sure they'd be out of business by now (and still in the boat?). Meanwhile, Shipwreck Grill, has momentum continuing even in the summer months even years after opening, and doesn't yet have the risk of the newspaper running a snarky headline of "Shipwreck Grill runs aground". Let's hope that doesn't happen. Amico Nave also was continuously full even in the slow summer months (and a pretty frightening lack of good lighting in the parking lot).

Slight updates 8/12/14

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Brazos Blue Ribbon Bakery in Bryan


Happy July 2nd!

This is a beautiful full-color ad of the Brazos Blue Ribbon Bakery at Villa Maria and Briarcrest from a late 1980s Texas Aggies football program.

Circa 1998, BBRB moved to College Station and this location became a Must Be Heaven, which survives today. I was never impressed with MBH (Must Be Purgatory, perhaps) but I admire its willingness to stick out in a difficult location.

Sadly, those kolaches are now just a memory, but there are some decent kolaches at Village Foods down the street. That sign is also gone, it's now just a rusty metal frame.

1136 Villa Maria Road

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ken Martin's Steakhouse / Ken Martin's Safari Grille

Apart from being in generally poor shape, notice that the STEAK HOUSE was removed first.


Although Ken Martin's Steakhouse didn't start here (it was located at 1803 S. Texas Avenue, an auto dealership, Ken Martin's didn't relocate here until...early 1990s?), at its peak, the Ken Martin restaurant empire included Fort Shiloh, Ken Martin's Chicken Fried Steak (a spin-off located in Post Oak Mall), three or four Pepe's (one where Gumby's was is now, the mall, the existing one in Bryan, and apparently one in Austin), and of course, Ken Martin's Steakhouse. The building here appears to be two levels, though since I've never been inside of it (sad but true!) I have no way of confirming that for certain. [UPDATE: See comments. It's just a high ceiling.]

Sometime around 2005 (correct me if I'm wrong, here), Ken Martin's rebranded to "Ken Martin's Safari Grille", which updated and expanded the menu (though, despite the new theme, did not add exotic meats to the menu).

The menu for the Safari Grill is below.


Because I scanned it from a phone book (still very much intact), some of the letters were blurred. That should be "aged to perfection and hand-cut", "garlic mashed potatoes", "texture and robust taste", prices down the line were 9.99, 12.99, 10.99, 14.99, 3.99, 1.99.

For the seafood, "served with rice pilaf", "served with our homemade", the Breaded Golden Fried Shrimp is 9.99.
For the chicken, "lightly breaded and fried", "topped with pineapple", "served with". Extra shrimp with the chicken is 3.99.

In December 2011, after about four decades of serving chicken fried steaks, Ken and his wife retired from the restaurant business and shuttered Ken Martin's forever. Comments are appreciated.

[UPDATE: The original restaurant here through the 1980s (1983, 1989) was a restaurant called Pacific Coast Highway. It was a fine dining restaurant (beef, seafood, mixed drinks) that I have an ad for, but I can't imagine it being built with that exterior...]

3231 East 29th Street


Updated mid-June 2015

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Texan Restaurant

1971 Phone Book, an image oft "borrowed": this is what prompted me to use watermarks.

3204 S. College Avenue

Although now Tobacco & More, a discount cigarette/convenience store, for decades, it was the Texan. Known for its chef-prepared food and delicious salads (even in a less-than-fancy exterior), the Texan began as a drive-in from the 1950s era drive-in that Robert Tapley and his wife Diana bought in 1967. They slowly worked the greasy spoon short order menu into a fancier experience, and by 1971, we had the gourmet experience shown above. For decades, the Texan entertained and fed a loyal clientele, but the market changed. Robert Tapley passed away in 1992 with Diana taking over as head chef and owner. The 1990s brought more limited hours to the restaurant, and new restaurant chains in town began to tear into the crowds. Some changes were made to remain competitive, such as cutting prices and making the salads in the kitchen instead of tableside. The final blow was Christopher's World Grille (opened 1999), which although wasn't trying to kill the Texan, ended up doing in the restaurant. By 2000, they were open only 3 days a week, and Diana, now in her early 70s, saw no other choice but to close the restaurant permanently in May 2000.

Notes: InSite Magazine, May 2000 provided some additional information on the end of the restaurant. Updated March 2014.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Seafood Mama's / Yum Yums Texas Style / Oxford Street / Steak & Ale

From Stalworth Online, during its days between Oxford Street and Yum Yums


1710 Briarcrest Drive

Beginning as an outlet of the late Steak & Ale (initially unknown when I published this post but confirmed via a mid-1980s dining guide), this former restaurant was best known as Oxford Street from some point in the late 1980s (see comments) until it closed in September 2008. It's unfortunate that I don't have more information on Oxford Street than I currently do, but it was a moderately-priced steakhouse (not to Republic or Christopher's levels) featuring "candlelight dining featuring steaks and seafood in an Old World setting" according to the 2004 Dining Guide.

Oxford didn't stay shut for long, as it was soon replaced with a restaurant called "Yum Yums Texas Style". Already there's problems with that: if it looked like a four-year-old named it, you'd be right. There used to be an article on The Eagle, dated March 2009 titled "Yum Yums owner gets back to roots with eatery", which a lot of the following is derived from (the link is now dead). The restaurant opened with the goal of "upper-end", homemade-style food, but it wasn't to last. The name had problems and unfortunate connotations which were called out in comments, with few defenders. It closed in less than a year. By all accounts from the brief time Yum Yums was on this earth, there were very few things to say. There's a scathing review on Yelp that blasted the food (the employees were nice, but that couldn't save it). One review from YellowPages.com (a "kelsey27") blasted it with "this place is totally DISGUSTING... FOOD SUCKS, STAFF SUCKS" and also the contractor was never paid for work done to renovate the restaurant (this is supported independently by third parties). Interestingly, on the original The Eagle article, there was a comment, and this is unaltered:
I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW RUDE YOU PEOPLE ARE BEING TO A FAMILY THAT IS BRINGING REVENUE AND OPPURTUNITIES TO OUR TOWN! GET OVER YOURSELVES AND GO EAT SOME GOOD FOOD. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HOW WELL THIS RESTAURANT DOES~

I'm guessing this person was the owner, or at least a close family friend.

Seafood Mama's opened in December 2011, painting the whole building a dark blue color and offering seafood and other items. Never went to Seafood Mama's, as it had very mixed reviews (Yelp's "Greg D." gave it five stars, which may or may not have been faked) but that couldn't be helped, as in late June of 2012, the restaurant was gutted by a fire ([archive]) and it did not reopen. By fall, it was razed. For several years afterward (at least as of early 2015, though I didn't notice it on recent drive-bys, so it might be gone), the Seafood Mama's roadside sign remained up. Will anything ever be built there again? Maybe.

(Post Updated 1/16)