Showing posts with label northgate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label northgate. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Café Eccell's Former Domain


Taken by me, on the last day Café Eccell was legally operating on the city's lease, January 14th, 2014


A few years ago, I showed you the former Luby's, which as of this writing isn't updated yet (when it is, I'll do a quick update on this page to remove that disclaimer), which is where Eccell is located today.

For a number of years, though, Café Eccell was located at the corner of Church Avenue and Wellborn, 101 Church Avenue. The building of Café Eccell, as plain and kind of ugly as it was, used to house the city's first city hall and jail back in the 1940s (built 1947). The city hall moved out in 1970 when a new building was built, and I'm not sure of what it was used for later (the police station was also in Northgate during those days, though not that building). The city held onto the lease and in 1989, it reopened as a restaurant, Café Eccell, which featured a classier, "adult" atmosphere and food that the rest of Northgate lacked, and still tends to lack today.

The first incarnation of Café Eccell closed permanently in March 2014 a few months after its lease ran out (why the city never locked them out is unknown). The restaurant opened in 1989, and after changing of hands to the Dallis family completely around 1991, the restaurant continued for many years. The food was also plagued by inconsistency in its latter days as well as the drama involving the Dallis brothers (a.k.a. Eccell Group), the developers, and the community as a whole.

A few months later the building was wrecked for The Domain at Northgate apartment building, which is only four stories, occupies the whole block, and includes retail opportunities, though only one is currently open (4.0 Cuts Barber Salon, opened spring 2016). The building itself was ready in time for the fall 2015 move-in season, and for a time had a leasing office in the former Cycles Etc. on University Drive.

Of course, the Domain was not the first development to try to redevelop CE, it was to house "Gameday Centers College Station" circa 2004, a large multi-story tower (about 7-8 stories). Gameday Centers was largely doomed to begin with: the company was building luxury condos for big-money donors to stay in on game weekends, but the asking price of $500,000 a condo was too much* (it would be a better value to buy a house in the Traditions subdivision, which is what many have done), negotiations with the city broke down, and rather than a first phase done by August 2007 and completion by December 2008*, it was canned. The center would've had 10,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and had even signed a 10-year lease with Café Eccell as part of the agreement*.

*Unfortunately, since this page was originally published, one of the links I had for this page has gone dead and I have been unable to relocate it, as the Batt link is dead and Archive.org does not have it. Likewise the links for the other links seem to be lost.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Goodbye to 711 University, So Long to the BB&T...

Since I didn't get a picture of the bank before it became a big hole in the ground, we'll have to do with this.


I love punny titles, and what better way to do that would be to mention the demolition of the old University Bank Building?

This was (going past tense here) a rather large and rather old bank that was a Citibank until very recently when it changed to BB&T. Brazos CAD says it was built in 1961 and from what I confirm that is absolutely true. Besides the many transactions at the bank itself, here are the major transactions in terms of name changes and all.

1962: College Station Bank relocates to this building from a previous location.
1963: The name is changed to University National Bank.
1990: After a long run as University National Bank, it is acquired by Don Adam to become First American Bank (officially acquired that year)
2005: Citigroup acquires the bank chain, rebranded to Citibank
2014: BB&T purchases 41 Citibank branches including this one and rebrands them.
2016: BB&T relocates to The Rise at Northgate; building torn down, thus beginning and ending its life with relocation.

That being said, there are two more things I want to hit:

OFFICE SPACE!
The bank property also included an adjacent space, which was 707 University, BCAD link here which was a two-story office building with a small footprint. My records show this was used for non-bank space as early as 1974 (with the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co.) and my 1989 phone book mentions "The Personal Computer Store" (with the ad mentioning it was "since 1984"). This became MicroAge by 1993, and starting in 1999 moved out to their current home (now known as Avinext) on East University Drive. I don't think anything has occupied the space since.

FOOD TRUCKS!
711 University was also where food trucks congregated (or near the now-defunct Notes-N-Quotes next door). Since I graduated a few years ago, I can't list all the more recent food trucks and trailers there, though here are a few I remember:

Wafology - Seen spring 2014 and maybe late 2013, this was a waffle food truck which had chicken and waffles and a few others. The waffles weren't great, they were more of the standard "using pancake batter in a waffle iron" that I've seen everywhere except for home cooking. I think it returned for fall 2014. It is now known as MESS Waffles.

Vittles - This was seen summer 2014. It was a trailer operated by Gumby's serving sno-cones, pizza rolls, and chicken legs (the latter two obviously prepared off-site).

Chef Tai's Mobile Bistro - Moved inside campus due to a contract.

Southern Comfort Road Trip - The old Village Foods food truck which in fall 2013, was the new home of Hebert's Cajun Food dishes. Their already-borderline prices had gone up, but it still felt like it was putting the universe one step closer to being back in balance.

Mr. Chinese Burger - I wanted to like it, but the burgers I had needed reheating...and they were shut down by the health department at least once. Still, I was amused by the (possibly deliberate?) broken English menu ("One Chinese Burger", "Two Chinese Burger", etc.), they sold pulled pork on chewy steamed buns.

THE FUTURE?!
The replacement is supposed to be a 16-story, 800-bed residential tower (student housing, it seems, as usual) with two retail spaces at the bottom which may or may not go unused (considering how the Rise struggled with retail the first few years, though the CVS did well).

Friday, January 22, 2016

Handy Burger / The Onion Ring / The Deluxe / Chimy's Cerveceria

Chimy's sign looks kind of cool at night, but no picture of that, sorry (December 2015)


This restaurant, best known to me as the Deluxe Diner, always had a bit of a special place in my heart, even if I never went there. It was the first thing I saw besides the late Dulie Bell Building if we were going down the ramp from Wellborn, plus it was always featured in a little "menu booklet" that the George Bush Library had in their early days. It started as a hamburger restaurant called the Handy Burger, which was the first place in town to have a microwave for food use. Eventually, this became a restaurant called "The Onion Ring" (which picked up a well-known nickname probably more common than the REAL name of the restaurant).

Later, the restaurant was remodeled and became "The Deluxe Burger Bar" (renamed The Deluxe Diner sometime later).

Deluxe Diner menu from better days (c. 1998), note that this is not the full menu

The shuttered Deluxe Diner, Google Street View (c. 2007)

The Deluxe Diner closed in 2006 (that I know for sure) but by that time was in a state of huge decline (food was terrible, management was even worse). Despite having some period diner pieces inside (though the exterior had been modified since the Handy Burger days), the building started to rot and mold until 2012 when most of the restaurant was demolished save for a few walls and was rebuilt into Chimy's Cerveceria, which opened in January 2013. I've never eaten there, based on reports of overpriced food and what I've seen myself (long, cafeteria-like tables). That was disappointing, as I'd been wanting some decent Tex-Mex in Northgate, not a bar. Rest assured, though, with the opening of Torchy's Tacos when I lived at Eastgate, I no longer thought of Chimy's as a wasted opportunity.

So there you go. The tale of one of College Station's oldest restaurant sites in one post. Sorry for the absence as of late...I'll be wrapping up several more of the posts here with one more for the memories.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Loupot's Building

Loupot's in 1995. (PH)


Prior to when College Main was closed off (June 19th 2012, a day that will live in infamy), it was the only block which was resembled a dense city in College Station. And sitting on the corner of this block was Loupot's (335 University Drive), which closed the same year (in March). One of the oldest establishments on Northgate and once the "official" bookstore on campus, Loupot's had been around for years, though from what I've read, it wasn't always in the building, and when it was, it wasn't in both levels.

From what I've found, it wasn't bought by Loupot until 1979, and in the past, Loupot's was named "Loupot's Trading Post" and "Loupot's Books & Britches". The upper level was added in the 1980s not too long after the building was bought, as that had been the previous home of an X-rated bookstore (The Adult Library, though I read an ad that mentioned it being the home of "Sun Theater", same business, different name). Some ads I had found (but sadly don't have a copy right now) mentioned that they had shows for a quarter (and escorted ladies were free), which was around in the 1970s and 1980s. This had an address of 333 University. The adult theater was upstairs at 333 University, with Loupot's downstairs. At some point, they eventually closed and Loupot's ultimately would expand upstairs.

Anyway, Loupot's managed to expand to a few different locations, namely a location in Southgate (now home to TexAgs) and in a location at Holleman and Texas Avenue (now Salata). These closed shortly after the Northgate location. A fourth location was planned (according to a sign) to the grassy area just north of Blinn College on Villa Maria (where Blinn later added more parking). Loupot's continued to maintain its large store on Northgate, which later upgraded to electronic signage and made Internet history with its "reverse-boarded up windows" in 2005 (around the time of Hurricane Rita). However, in 2010, the family sold to Nebraska Book Company (Neebo), which already owned the Traditions bookstores (formerly Rother's), and then they started closing stores. The Loupot's-branded stores went away in 2012, but eventually, their other stores (Southgate, University Square, and one closer to Blinn at Briarcrest and Villa Maria) closed as well.

One of their last messages on the message board was "HOLY CRAP!!! TEXTBOOK RENTAL SALE!!!", which always felt a bit tasteless due to the mild swearing but that distracted from the fact that if they're selling rental textbooks, they're probably going under.

The former Loupot's in 2013.



It would be great to see the Loupot's on Northgate resurrected as The Loupot's Building and maybe get something decent or two in there, and not a bar: maybe dividing it into restaurants and shops, except the landlord is too stingy to do so. It was to become a place called Z Bar & Bistro, which made me hope it was something better than The Corner across the street (sticky chairs and tables, smells like old beer constantly, poor service), though it eventually fell through.

As of early 2016, there appears to be some work going on at Loupot's. It will probably be a bar, but it's better than an empty building, right?

Friday, September 25, 2015

108 College Main

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was Dead Lazlo's Coffee Pub in 1995, which lasted a few years too. A newspaper article I read (I don't have it with me but if it turns up, I'll cite it) mentioned that Dead Lazlo's was owned by Sweet Eugene's House of Java which is still alive today. Given how crowded Sweet Eugene's gets, if they still owned a coffeeshop here on Northgate under any name, it would do spectacularly well.

Copacetic (or Copasetic, I've seen it both ways) Café in 1998, and Foundation Room later (which has even more recently changed to "Foundation Lounge"), but not before briefly becoming a bar called The Groove in the mid to late 2000s, which had live music. The Groove was around as early as 2004 (citing The Eagle archives) and as late as 2007 (Google Street view and a restaurant report card). The Foundation's current ƒ logo used to be a Comic Sans-esque "G". Not counting the name changes of Drafting Board or Foundation Room, that's been 8 tenants over the years, but there's probably more...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Newport Condominiums

One of the things mentioned in this old post about the Circle Drive-In on Northgate was the presence of the Newport Condominiums, a now-defunct (to be used for the expansion of St. Mary's, should/when that ever happen). These were built sometime in the 1980s but were torn down partially for their questionable structural integrity. The apartments were built on a modified pier and beam layout where the parking was below the building about half a floor down. I could've sworn I had pictures of what remained, but apparently not, which was aggravating: I wish I had gotten interior photos before Dulie Bell disappeared, but at least I was able to actually get in.

Seems that just about three months before their untimely demolition, the buildings were advertising as "Campus Lodge at Northgate" and still leasing! I got these from Street View over a year ago and was intending to use them for the blog, which I finally am.


402 Nagle

Any more comments on these would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Jin's Asian Cafe / Lippman Music

Despite looking bad, this is about the extent of it.

This building, built in 1963, has seen a lot, including the after-effects of a fire in June 2014, which despite looking worse for the wear, was only quite limited to what to you see here, with Lippman's opening the next day and Jin's the following week.

The Jin's side (110 Nagle) was originally (by the early 1970s, so presumably as opening in 1963) one of the many UtoteM convenience stores in town though by 1980 had disconnected to become the Universal Grocery & Snack Bar, even by the 1990s becoming "Universal Restaurant", though by 1998 it was back to "Universal Grocery" before finally closing and becoming Jin's (at a date I have yet to discover). I didn't take a picture of this, because it's fairly common elsewhere (see Yelp, for instance)

Lippman's side (112 Nagle) opened as Lippman Music in 1994 (guitars and such, not albums) after moving from Culpepper Plaza (where it opened in the 1980s) but according to Brian Lippman served as a bus station in the distant past (the double doors that don't open was a freight entrance). Prior to 1994 it was the original location of Notes-N-Quotes before it moved to the old Exxon.

Other than that, I have nothing. Comments would be appreciated. We (I) would also like some feedback on the following old 2011 posts which have been updated:

- University Square / Legacy Point - mostly updating and refining, but a new ad for a long-gone store
- Campus Theater - new updates regarding sale
- Wolfe Nursery - new info on go-kart track
- East 29th and Texas - new post name and update

Friday, June 6, 2014

301 College Main

Imagine an old white stucco type building here.


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

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

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

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

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


Updated October 2015 with fixed errors and links.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

104-115 College Main

Remember when I redid the Northgate page, and cut out all references to College Main? Well, those days are over, and this has now returned to this page.

I personally despise the way College Main is set up these days: it used to be a normal road, with sidewalks, bike lanes, and two lanes. In summer 2012, while they made the part of College Main going up to Old College a lot prettier and functional (sidewalks, well-lit, bike lanes, etc.), they turned College Main into a pedestrian mall, which doesn't get a lot more foot traffic, and history has shown that turning streets into pedestrian malls often kills them off instead of saving them. Oh well. However, since this College Main has mostly deteriorated into mostly bars, it probably does make more sense, in a way.

104 College Main - Antonio's Pizza by the Slice

Beginning as Court's University Shoe Repair in the 1930s or 1940s (an archival photo that I can't find right now), the current tenant history has this being vacant in 1993, being divided between a Lacey's (jewelry store) and "Perfect Tan III" by 1995 (there's also a photo of these two that I don't have up either). By the late 1990s, this was "Byte Me Computers" (according to a 1997-1998 plan of the Northgate Promenade, which showed nearby buildings). It became Antonio's Pizza by the Slice in the early part of the 2000s, which has decent and reasonably priced pizza. It also offers Coke products, something the university hasn't in a number of years.

105 College Main - The Law Office of Drew Gibson & Associates
In the same building as Northgate Barber Shop, this used to be Software Exchange back in the mid-1990s and Julia's Silver Boutique around 1998. The 1972 directory says this was "Zubik Tailors". In 1989, this was "Custom Creations by Hullabaloo".

106 College Main - Hookah Station
For many years, Hookah Station was the location of Holick's boots. When Holick's moved out in the early 2000s (2002?) to Westgate Center, the painted "Holick's" on the side of the building remained. Unfortunately, Hookah Station trashed the building both in terms of historic qualities and physically.

When it was sitting vacant and clearly falling apart, it somehow still looks better and classier than the pit that's there today. Holick's even had maroon-and-white awnings, a nice touch.


From Flickr, user "treyerice"



107 College Main - Northgate Barber Shop
This barbershop has been here for years (since at least the early 1970s!). In the late 2000s, there was "Northgate Barber Shop Too!" at Holleman and Anderson, but that has since renamed to "Maroon & White Barber Shop"

108 College Main - Foundation Lounge
In the early 1980s, this was a store called The Drafting Board, an engineer's supply shop (reminder: there were less computers than today), and later became a restaurant called A&M Steak House by the late 1980s (hamburgers, apparently). After that was shortly another store, Condom Station (at the zenith of Northgate's decline). I'm not sure how long it lasted, but it wasn't long.

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

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

This was Dead Lazlo's Coffee Pub in 1995, which lasted a few years too. A newspaper article I read (I don't have it with me but if it turns up, I'll cite it) mentioned that Dead Lazlo's was owned by Sweet Eugene's House of Java which is still alive today. Given how crowded Sweet Eugene's gets, if they still owned a coffeeshop here on Northgate under any name, it would do spectacularly well.

Copacetic (or Copasetic, I've seen it both ways) Café in 1998, and Foundation Room later (which has even more recently changed to "Foundation Lounge"), but not before briefly becoming a bar called Groove in the mid to late 2000s. The Foundation's current ƒ logo used to be a Comic Sans-esque "G".

It should also be noted that the Drafting Board was formerly "News Office Supply", according to an old phone book. A 1972 directory mentions that this was White Auto Store at this spot.

The row

109 College Main - Sarge's
Sarge's moved here in the early 1980s. It used to be Aggieland Studio, which was a portrait studio like University Studio.

110 College Main - Social Lounge
In 1989 this was a Chinese buffet called Taipei Express, and soon became a large record shop called Marooned, which remained throughout most of the 1990s. After Marooned was closed, by the early 2000s, it was a Quizno's, but that didn't last very long, and became V-Bar circa 2005-2006.

Courtesy Project HOLD

In 2007, the V-Bar was embroiled in an attack that left a Rice Owl basketball player dead and his brother injured in which someone stabbed people during a bar fight. The media was very sympathetic to the brothers at first, but later on it was revealed that the attacker, a Marine, stabbed them in an attempt to get them to stop beating his fellow "Marine brother" to death. Compare the full story ("Ex-Marine not guilty ", March 11, 2010) to earlier reports. By the time Ronald Johnson was cleared of murder, the V-Bar was on its way out (if not already).

It became Social Lounge, which it is still is now. The picture is from Project HOLD, which shows it as Marooned. The windows have since been bricked up.

Despite a much older photo as evidence, a 1972 directory indicates that this was "University Shoe Repair" (not 104), which is also strange since it's one of the larger spaces on Northgate.

111 College Main - Gatsby's on Main
Gatsby's space hasn't moved around much. Thanks to its current sign, it says it's been there "Since 2004", and prior to that was Aggie Cleaners. Gatsby's is currently celebrating of being on College Main for 10 years, though Aggie Cleaners had stuck around for at least 30 before that.

Courtesy Project HOLD, mid-1990s

112 College Main
A non-existent address these days, but it was listed as "University Cleaners" (not to be confused with Aggie Cleaners). It would make sense if this shared the space with the new location of University Shoe Repair.

113 College Main - Kyoto Japanese
This used to be Disc-Go-Round, another record store, and before that, ProTutors Incorporated. Records also mention that this was the first police station of College Station. Despite (what was then called) Kyoto Sushi's ramshackle appearance (sometime around fall 2012 or spring 2013 it stopped serving sushi entirely and is only open at night as a sake bar), it used to look even worse. In spring 2014, it changed to Kyoto Japanese. It's still a sake bar, but is a Korean restaurant called The Bulgori now during the daytime. Ironically, this still doesn't serve sushi--that's found over at Aggie Time to Go. Also worth noting that in the early 2010s, most of the building was painted yellow.

115 College Main - The Law Office of Drew Gibson & Associates
This business isn't here anymore. There's an almost-gone "Aggieland Studio" mural on the side of the building. As you can see in the shot below (when the building looked even worse), there's a sign that says "Paradise" above it. That was Paradise Scuba. It moved to Parkway Square in the mid 1990s (soon after that picture was taken, my 1993 phone book still has Paradise Scuba as being in Northgate) and eventually moving to the old Putt-Putt location. As of this writing, it looks like 115 College Main will cease to exist thanks to a recent New Development filing of 113 College Main renovating the second floor. In the late 1980s, it was the last home to On the Double (actually I think it was 113), after it moved out of the space above Farmer's Market.

2007 Google Street View with the unpainted bricks but no ugly facade

Last days of the original "Kyoto Sushi"

EDIT 4/6/14: The Bulgori is now closed (unknown status of AT2G) but the sake bar continues. I did eat there once. Decent food (got a menu!), some good sides, soup included, even a slice of blood orange.

Hopefully, I'll fill the rest in with pictures that are kicking around on my hard drive somewhere. Enjoy what's currently here for now, though! Leave comments if you can, especially on those businesses that I've inevitably missed. For more Northgate fun, click the link below to see all posts tagged with "Northgate".

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Northgate: The Businesses of Boyett

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Rise at Northgate

Not there yet...this view may be impossible in a few years when the apartments replacing BB&T get built.

I can still remember sitting on the "porch" of the A+ Tutoring and Fat Burger building (profiled here in this post, which is undergoing changes, but that's okay), looking out at the abandoned building that once held a BBVA Compass Bank (formerly Guaranty Bank until they were bought out) and United Realty. United Realty is now on Graham, and BBVA Compass moved out as well. I don't know when or where they took off too, but I'm pretty sure that BBVA Compass disappeared in 2010 or so.

They were to be torn down for a huge building known as 717 University. This was spring 2012. At first, I couldn't really comprehend a building being there. After all, the Plaza was coming down, and the Plaza occupied a much bigger footprint. I wondered if they would close off Church Avenue for additional space. Turns out they didn't. When they filed something in regards to the airport ordinance, I knew it could be good.

Initially, there was talk of a gourmet grocer (Whole Foods was the rumored choice, and supposedly they even signed a letter of intent), but that eventually fell through as the building was renamed The Rise at Northgate and ultimately CVS/pharmacy would take the place of the lower level tenant, which was just as well.


Early concept. It looks substantially different in real life. (snagged from local news site)

Over the fall semester, I watched from the Evans Library them build the large structure, adding a new floor every week or so before it was visible on the skyline.

Anyway, the bank was home Community Savings & Loan Association which surprisingly lasted from the 1970s until 1989. Later, it became Guaranty Bank and United Realty (sharing the bank), the former becoming BBVA Compass and moving out. By 2011, it was boarded up and vacant.

I know I had once parked my bike in the lot in the overgrown grass there, but didn't get any good ground pictures at the time.

Not too long before, this is what was there.

I don't live in the Rise, but a friend and I checked out the CVS and explored around. It's smaller than a real CVS...there's a selection of food that's generally better than a convenience store, and of course a full HBA (Health & Beauty Aids) department, something convenience stores don't have. The best thing, at least to Rise residents, is a little hallway in the back that links the elevator to the complex (and the parking garage) with the CVS, so in theory, you could make a midnight run for snacks...or at least, it would be midnight, if they didn't close at 12 (that might change in the future).

It's a bit of a bummer that they don't carry any fresh fruits or vegetables, as that would round out the neighborhood nicely. After all, just literally outside used to be the old Albertsons which did have not only a pharmacy since the early 1970s but all manners of produce as well. 24 hours, too. A sad day when it finally closed, as for the next 31 semesters, Northgate lacked a pharmacy (that's spring 1998 to spring 2013, for those keeping count).

A few more pictures that I took...


Due to the orientation of perhaps the parking garage ramps above, the CVS isn't flush with ground level, requiring going up a several steps or using a (rather narrow looking) ramp. Still, the potential is great: a huge (at least by College Station standards) apartment building, and streetside retail in a pedestrian area (something the Lofts lacked).

Around spring 2014, they replaced their bike racks with bike racks designed for the MaroonBikes rental bikes, requiring people to hook their bikes to trees or other things (way to screw over your main audience) but you could still hook it on a bench or a tree. As of 2016, they've posted signs not to park bikes in the vicinity but rather put them in bike racks in the upper levels of the parking garage, which makes the CVS and its other tenants definitely less accessible.

Surprisingly, as of 2016, the tenants of the Rise are fully filled out.

The first tenant here was CVS/pharmacy (Ste. 101), the largest store, which opened September 29, 2013. It faces University and while it is a smaller CVS than most of its more suburban counterparts, it is merchandised to the neighborhood by having a mix of at least 50% food, though only has a very abbreviated mix consisting of a few dry foods, frozen foods, and a few other items, all priced higher than grocery stores. The best thing, at least to Rise residents, is a little hallway in the back that links the elevator to the complex (and the parking garage) with the CVS, so in theory, you could make a midnight run for snacks...or at least, it would be midnight, if they didn't close at midnight.

The second tenant is "YAKU Japanese Eatery" (Ste. 171), which replaced Great Wraps. Great Wraps opened in spring 2014 but didn't match up with its Houston counterparts. My quest for a good chicken caesar wrap on or near campus was foiled when the wrap was stuffed with croutons, and that was enough to put me off forever. By the end of 2014 it was gone, with YAKU taking its place next year. By the time YAKU opened, I was out of college, and while I was dubious of the sign offering chicken fingers and ramen (having put off by Happy Yogurt and their store-bought garbage), it has lasted until now (September 2016) with mixed reviews.

The third tenant, located at the end, is the BB&T (Ste. 181), which opened August 2016. It has an ATM outside of it. The BB&T moved here after their old location was demolished.


July 27 2014 - Updated.
October 09 2016 - Updated a second time.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Building Formerly Known as Fitzwilly's

Courtesy of Project HOLD, a black and white photo. While not nearly as ancient as this suggests, it does represent a time gone by. 803 University.


This is titled "The Building Formerly Known as Fitzwilly's" because that's what this was for 19 years. For many years, it was the place of good burgers, good wings, and good times, and I was saddened when it closed, partially because it stayed longer than anything that had ever been there before.

Except one occupant.

From approximately 1930 up until 1979, this building once held apartments, titled "The Varsity" (a TexAgs thread mentions it was the Alamo Apartments, but I believe I've found differently). From second-hand stories on TexAgs, the building was dilapidated (at least in the later years), the manager was the same woman for 44 years, and the building had no air conditioning or central heating. It's worth noting, though a lot of dorms on campus didn't have air conditioning either (Walton Hall didn't get air conditioning until the late 1990s, at least). It also didn't have a phone line, which led it to be excluded from phone books in the 1970s.

The historic date and land use is backed up by city documents.

While the directory I have seen below is from 1939 (and a bit difficult to use since nearly every road name has changed, but the addresses have been renumbered).

Inspiring "Varsity II Apartments" on Wellborn, perhaps?



While I can't readily pull up an aerial from 1939 (they do exist, but not in a format I can readily use), the buildings on Northgate did retain the configuration until at least the early 1960s, and the buildings do align with the directory. In this picture, you can readily see where the Fitzwilly's building was.

Directly taken from the Citgo post


- The private residence to the southwest (where that Citgo station was) is the private residence listed (two addresses, possibly because of the two buildings).
- The Varsity is the no-telephone building where Fitzwilly's later was.
- The vacancy is where Dry Bean Saloon is now.
- The next building is where the former "Miranda's" portion of modern day Dixie Chicken is. The "main" building (originally Aggie Den) was built later, which created Bottlecap Alley——notice that in this era, "Bottlecap Alley" is enough to fit two rows of cars comfortably. Try fitting one car into Bottlecap Alley today. This is the original "North Gate Cafe" (there was a Northgate Café in modern-day Basil Whippet's in the 1990s, but they are unrelated)
- and finally, the building to the northeast is the famous Old Army "Charlie's Grocery", which finally disappeared in the 1980s after sub-dividing part of their store out to Texas Aggie Bookstore, which remains today (though in the 1990s had to make that "AggieLand").

In 1979, the building finally was converted into a two-story bar but I've been unable to secure the names of said businesses very easily (a 1985 city directory even listed "Edward Jones", which is at 303 EAST University Drive). Luckily, capn-mac has his own chronology (I've also learned "Bogie's" was there as there as the last bar to inhabit the building before the "renovation" mentioned). From what I have, in 1980, it was Alamo Bar & Grill, which probably (compared to the building layout today) a dump and far more obvious about its former status as a run-down apartment building it was before. There was also "Sebastian's Tavern" as well around 1982-1983, but Bogie's was in the 1983 phone book but not the 1984 one. It's possible that the building sat vacant for a bit before being renovated again (which would make since). The link posted above also mentions said "renovation" to the building, which is probably what made the building it is today: a skylight was added at about this point, and probably the interior was rebuilt to restaurant code. It was in this phase from the late 1980s (1987, perhaps?) that it was the Flying Tomato Pizza (the city directory lists it as "Flying Tomato & Pizza-N-A-Pan"). By other independent sources, they had a hot air balloon that dropped Frisbees and other prizes. I don't know how I came across this, but it wasn't from this location, as by the time my family moved here, Flying Tomato was now Two Pesos.

Proof.


Two Pesos (not Dos Pesos, as I wrongly believed at one time) was a Taco Cabana knockoff (as briefly discussed here), which by all accounts was cheap and tasty.

Two Pesos also had a turn at the building's facade: while we can't see what the building looked like in the days pre-Two Pesos, we do have this picture from a Northgate redevelopment plan...

Not in the Northgate color palette.


In 1994, it became what it would be known as for nearly the next 19 years: Fitzwilly's. Unfortunately, Fitz's, despite having good, cheap food (wings and burgers) fell out of favor with the Northgate crowd. Even when it wasn't crowded, service was slow (and also, food portions shrunk in the last year). It was still liked by an older crowd, but that's not what the Northgate landlords wanted, so the lease wasn't renewed and it went to the controversial Eccell Group, which has all but exited the Northgate area these days (Daisy Duke's has been sold, Café Eccell has moved, and La Bodega has closed as well).

While not in the gaudy "cotton candy" colors of Two Pesos, The Backyard seems a bit boring.

The Backyard is the name of the replacement, which has a far darker interior than Fitzwilly's, more expensive food, and other changes I didn't particularly like, and due to aforementioned color restrictions, the new owners just painted it the same dark beige tone we've seen everywhere else. I didn't take a picture of the back area of the restaurant--while Fitzwilly's had a few tables and some delightfully dated blinking incandescent lights, the newer facility's back area was significantly rebuilt. If you crave more Fitzwilly's pictures that are in color, you can visit the Yelp page. Since leaving college, I've heard The Backyard has revised its menu to add more sandwiches (the old menu was burgers and tacos).

Finally, if you know for sure any bars missed, fill 'em in at the comments!

Update 8-5-14: Removed the first paragraph about the last post or so, and also took out mention of the contest, which nobody won.
Update April 2015: General maintenance to ensure continued relevance.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Battle for the Promenade Part One - 301 Patricia

From The Eagle, so apologies for the quality.


Welcome to "Brazos Buildings & Businesses", the new name for the BEST source for Bryan-College Station business history.

Buildings don't vanish without a trace in this town very often. Sure, Fish Richard's is gone completely, but those are exceptions, not rules. Did you know there was a tiny strip center where the Northgate parking lot is, which is next to the Promenade?

It was built in the late 1960s or early 1970s, and it featured four spaces, with the end store being a UtoteM, a convenience store commonly found in the South. The chain was ultimately bought and absorbed by Circle K.


A bit blurry, but on the original, you can actually make out the U TOTE M sign!


A view from the early 1990s, looking east toward College Main.


Besides the UtoteM, the tenant history has been a little hard to tell: at one point, the three tenants renumbered. In the early 1980s, there was The Varsity Shop (a), Aggieland Washateria (b), and UtoteM (c), and in 1988, there was The Varsity Shop (a), Burger Boy (b), and "The Deli Shop" (c). At some point, however, the space that was UtoteM ended up becoming B, Burger Boy was in C, and B was Advanced Tutoring Services (in the early 1990s). In the mid-1970s, Planned Parenthood even maintained an office here (before their location at 303 College Main) in the era of UtoteM and Varsity Shop. Advanced Tutoring Services (ATS) was owned by the owners of Burger Boy, who might've sub-divided suite B.

The Varsity Shop, which survived from the 1970s to the 1990s. This ad is from the 1970s.

The UtoteM didn't survive long enough to be a Circle K (a 1983 phone book lists it as part of the UtoteM stores, but by 1984, it wasn't listed with the newly rebranded Circle K stores). If it did convert to a Circle K, it was brief: Circle K began to cut back the most run-down stores (many of the former UtoteM stores exist: the convenience store at College Main and Old College DID survive into the Circle K era). An InSite Magazine issue from 1997 (regarding the Northgate redevelopment) indicated that there was an Indian food store there at one time, but I haven't found it (it wasn't "The Deli Shop", which offered "Frankie's Fried Chicken"). By 1996, it was the offices for the Northgate redevelopment. By the summer of 1997, it was being gutted.

The Varsity Shop was in suite A, and suite B was Advanced Tutoring Services (ATS), which was owned by the owners of Burger Boy (but had closed by 1996, apparently). It wasn't always this way, though--a mid-1970s phone book mentions that Planned Parenthood was in the center at the same time as UtoteM and the Varsity Shop. This was even before they moved to 303 College Main. Varsity Shop lasted for around 25 years but closed after spring 1996 after "they could not get any of their beauty operators to return because beauty operators depend on following and there were too many rumors going around" (InSite Magazine), which indicates that they were closed in summer.

It was suite C, though, that caused the stir when the building was going to be demolished in 1997. That was Burger Boy at Northgate (the only business left by December 1996), which had been there since the latter part of the 1980s. The owners of Burger Boy at the time felt like the city was overstepping its boundaries in the eviction of the restaurant, and there wasn't any suitable spot to move to Northgate at the time. It had to stay on Northgate, as a full 90% of its business was delivery via bike. It's worth noting that when Burger Boy moved to Northgate, it replaced the restaurant which is now the Bryan Fat Burger. In 1989, they also had their original location at what is La Familia Taqueria at 300 North Texas Avenue but closed it in favor of the Northgate location, which was now (at this point) at the soon-to-be-razed 301 Patricia. I don't know what was there before Burger Boy.

Ultimately Burger Boy was able to find a new location in Northgate (what is now Daily Ruckus, though prior to Burger Boy's move-in, it was a garage), which the Sopasakis continued to run for the next 13 years. After the Sopasakis retired, the location soon moved and closed in December 2012 (January 2 had the announcement that it would not reopen).

As for the rest of the building, it was flattened in late 1997 or early 1998 for the Northgate Promenade.

Here is one last picture, from The Eagle with George Sopasakis standing in front of his business. Apologies for the quality.


Information and photos are derived from a few The Eagle articles:
"Local Eatery Seeks New Home" - December 12, 1996
"Business owners express concerns about relocation" - June 11, 1997
"New Northgate look" - June 12, 1997

Oh, and there's more too: be sure to watch for "Battle for the Promenade Part Two - Before Texadelphia", coming soon to this site.

I don't have a schedule for future posts--maybe once a week for now, at best. The problem comes with collecting and watermarking images, and of course, I need more traffic and feedback. No feedback = no posts. Rather, there could be some significant new changes coming soon. This nice, long post is even rare--don't expect anything like it again, at least for a while.

The other thing is that especially with the non-2013 standards posts, and even an amazing number of other posts that still exist, is that it would be a Herculean effort to update all of them. At this point, many of them are so badly out of date (non-2013 standards) that it would be easier to remove them instead of attempting to upgrade them.

With a truly abysmal number of real readers as opposed to image thieves (as of August 20th, Saber Inn only got about 20 views), I often have to ask myself if it's something I want to do at all.

But it doesn't have to be that way! If you want this site to remain independent, please leave a comment in support! We'll accept donations, volunteers, photos, anything!


EDIT: Another tenant that was here (predating Burger Boy?) was Chanello's Pizza, found in the 1983-1984 range.

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.