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!

Cross-posted from Safeway and Albertsons in Texas Blog

In October 1950, Safeway opened store #249 in Bryan, Texas, when they were a much smaller company than they later grew to be. It was likely from the Dallas division originally.


Used to be here! (1960)


Now it's here! (1971)

In the mid-1960s, Safeway rebuilt their store directly behind their old one. The reasoning for this was never fully explained, especially since the store was only 15 years old at the time and there were no serious issues reported in the press (foundation issues, right of way clearance).

In 1986, the store closed, probably to distance from the newly-acquired Weingarten store just a bit down the road. The replacement store would last as a Safeway as just a few years before becoming an AppleTree. It would be the last AppleTree until Kubicek sold out around 2009.

Sometime within the next 5 years of 1986 it was remodeled into the Brazos County Health Department, though I could've sworn that they've done an exterior remodel in recent years--the old one was distinctly grocery store-shaped. Regardless of what they did to the front, there's some rockwork on the side of the store: that's one sign that it was a Safeway, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Square One

Picture taken by author, 2013.

Square One Bistro (serving primarily Italian cuisine) originally opened in the summer of 1996 (as per Chamber of Commerce newspaper clipping, though I've also heard 1995 for the opening), and it was, to my knowledge, one of the first "better" establishments in downtown Bryan since its decline. It was purchased in early 2009 by local restauranteur Charles Stover as what he wanted, a small fine dining establishment.

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.

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.

After the shuttering of Square One Bistro, the building was reopened in Summer 2011 as "Square 1 Art Studio".


The historic name of the building is the Ward Building, and I also got this as a comment:
The historic name of the building was Hillier-Dansby funeral home, built in 1924. The upstairs has been an apartment since it was built, originally for the mortician and his family. It moved to another location on 26th St around 1940.


However, I can't verify that for sure.

211 West William Joel Bryan Parkway

Editor's Note: This received a major update in spring 2019.

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 (if I remember right) 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) as a wonderfully grungy place that was a gritty time capsule of the 1980s.

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 (2012 I believe) 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