Showing posts with label downtown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label downtown. 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.

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, June 20, 2012

Der Wienerschnitzel

This ad comes from 1970, which proves that the Wienerschnitzel has been operating in that building for over 40 years.

501 South Texas Avenue

The Wienerschnitzel (called "Der Wienerschnitzel" in the early days) on Texas Avenue is definitely a relic. That is a good thing: there are simply too few A-frame Wienerschnitzels left in the wild. I don't know this particular restaurant's opening, but I saw it in local newspapers (The Eagle, of course) back in the early 1970s, and this type was no longer built after 1973. There's no interior seating (only a few concrete seating benches inside), the drive-through is low and narrow, the storeroom is accessed on the other side of the store (they load food supplies in the second level), and it's slightly overpriced for a hot dog, but it's AWESOME. I even got a shot of the kitchen when no one was working there.

Here's the only photo that's not mine, a photo by Greg D. of Yelp:

There used to be a Wienerschnitzel in College Station, near Walmart but it no longer exists.

EDIT July 8: It is quite possible that this is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Bryan, but there's Pepe's, and Martin's, operating since maybe the 1940s. Although since Martin's is sometimes closed seasonally, I guess it could arguably be Pepe's.

EDIT May 12, 2013 - Updated to new format, removed then-current preview materials, one of which alluded to the Northgate post, and a "barrage of material for the fall", which amounted to about a dozen posts in varying quality.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

East 29th and Texas Avenue ~ The Ex-Greyhound

The short-lived Burger King that opened in 2009 and closed in less than two years. [Source: Yelp]

405 E. 29th Street
(Later Renumbered to 401 S. Texas Avenue after demolition)

As a College Station kid (this was originally named "College Station Roads & Retail", after all), I never went to downtown Bryan all that much. That's not to say I didn't at all...I specifically outline a memory in the Palace Theater post, but most of them were a trip up to the amazingly dirty, run-down bus station up at 29th and Texas Avenue (though we wouldn't take Texas Avenue all the way up or back...I specifically remember taking College Avenue back, and I know it was College Avenue because where "Woody's" is now, was an old military surplus place (there was a statue of a plane that had "surplus" on it). What was especially stunning about it was not the building, but the fact that even though it was COMPLETELY EMPTY (no sign or anything), there was still a lit neon border on the sign. That's even more impressive than the still-lit Service Merchandise sign I saw in early 2003 (San Antonio) a full year after the chain shut down, but I digress, or that one time in December 2003 where, while waiting for my cousin from Waco, I used my toe to squish a mosquito (I was lying down in the middle seats when this happened), and my sister didn't even notice until maybe 450 miles in the subsequent trip (second day, now in Alabama en route to central Florida) because she had napped most of the first day and the morning of the second.

What I didn't know at the time was it started out as a UtoteM (and that may have had Amoco gas, from what I've heard) and became a bus station by 1980. I don't think it was remodeled much at all between tenants, and it had a drop ceiling, florescent lighting, really worn tiles, possibly dated from 1960s to 1970s (it started out as a UtoteM that may have had Amoco gas, however, it was a bus station by 1980), some rather drab and cheap-looking chairs, and the like. There were a few vending machines, including some candy dispensers and I believe even a coffee vending machine. While it was a miserable place that seemed to be falling apart, it had charm (though I'm sure I'm the only one that thinks that).

In the mid/late 2000s it was closed and demolished. I never got to visit any of the replacement bus stations in the years following (though I did see the new bus station in the parking garage last fall), mostly because the relatives picked up either got their own cars (like my cousins, one of which still lives in Waco) or became too old to travel (like my grandfather).

I'd still like to find photos of the place.

The replacement of the store was a Burger King, part of a proposed bunch of new stores as part of a new franchisee. The new Burger King opened around April 2009 and closed in January 2011 (but not reopening). Reason was probably because B-CS just isn't a Burger King town (the one at Texas and Deacon seems to get pretty low volume). It reopened as a Chicken Express some months later which did little to the restaurant except give it red trim instead of blue. The other problem with the restaurant pad is poor access: there's no entrance to Texas Avenue at all, even though it was renumbered to a Texas Avenue address! That hasn't seemed to stop Chicken Express, which still continues to operate after about 4 years.

Post overhaul completed in June 2015