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

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Northgate Subway and the University Food Court

One restaurant for the price of three! (Picture taken by author, 8/19)

It makes me wonder why there aren't more buildings that house multiple brands of restaurants, arranged with common seating and other elements (restrooms, etc.), except in the occasional larger gas stations, Taco Bell/KFC stores (or other variants), or mall food courts. Yet that was the Northgate area got in the late 1980s.

Today, this is a massive Subway with a whole line dedicated for the Subway "pizzas", the building actually started out as something more intriguing, a three-unit "food court" with some common outdoor seating.

Today, a massive 24-hour Subway takes up the building, complete with a whole line dedicated for the Subway "pizzas" and a drive-through, which is rare (perhaps because of an unflattering appearance in Lethal Weapon 2? [link contains strong language]).

In 1988, the building (all new at the time) contained 31 Treats, Subway, and Little Caesars. 31 Treats was apparently a rebranded Baskin-Robbins, though it was a Baskin-Robbins later according to a picture I saw once (in Project HOLD, but couldn't find it again).


Prior to Rusty Taco's move in, 2011. Notice the evidence of the Baskin-Robbins actually being called "31 Treats".


Baskin-Robbins was ultimately short-lived, as Smoothie King got their certificate of occupancy in 1993 and opened soon after. Little Caesars survived into the 1990s but at some point closed and was replaced with Papa John's.

In 2001, Papa John's expanded into the vacant Smoothie King space, bringing its 900 square foot space up to 1,500 square feet and added an eat-in area. Sometime around the late 2000s, Papa John's closed up shop at Northgate, and the space was extensively renovated to become Dallas-based Rusty Taco, which was open 24 hours, and opened in October 2011.

Looking west on University. August 2019.

However, the summer hours were severely restricted in summer 2012, turning it into a mostly lunch-based option, and it closed shortly after the fall 2012 semester started.

Yelp! is the best resource if you'd like to read more (and it pictures of the front, too!). It was cheap taco place (cheaper than Fuego, and it showed) the tacos were $2-$3 each and were full of meat, with the flagship item being the "Rusty Taco", a taco filled with reddish-colored meat. The Dallas-based chain has locations as far out as Minneapolis, and even incorporated a garage door in the restaurant in lieu of windows, creating a hybrid open-air restaurant. They also had very cheap beer ($1 Pearl).

According to a guy who worked at the Daily Ruckus, Rusty Taco's pricing was fundamentally flawed since the cheaper breakfast tacos (eggs instead of meat) had thin profit margins, but that's what was most popular, and none of them were particularly good--the tortillas were small and tasted no better than what you could find in a grocery store.

In 2013, after Rusty Taco closed, Subway ended up renovating the entire building for their restaurant. (I believe they moved into the Rusty Taco portion, then renovated the old side).

I should also mention what was here before the "food court", in the 1970s and early 1980s it was the home of an ARCO gas station. In 1986, according to Project HOLD, files were made with the city to renovate the now-closed gas station (now closed) and expand it into a restaurant called Peso Exchange. As far as I can tell, this never opened, but it is an interesting piece of trivia.

Metapost: This is another post in the series to replace an old article on University Drive (removed due to an error involving lost content) with upgraded articles. The plan right now is to create a "new" post (which may or may not be previously published material) and also upgrade an "old" post.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

329 University Drive

From a phone book, though the exact year is unknown.

This building is unremarkable but has anchored the Northgate for years (Street View here). The lot was vacant in 1961 with no parking (possibly a former storefront that was burned/torn down years earlier). The modern building was built in 1968, and by 1972, was an establishment called "The Tavern", and the upstairs area (331) being On the Double copying service. In 1974 it was the home of "Kesami Sandwich Shop" ("Where No Two Sandwiches Are Alike!") but by 1977 it was the home Farmer's Market Sandwich Shop, a limited menu version (it later became full line) of Farmer's Market Bakery and Delicatessen in Bryan. It sold sandwiches, soups, salads, and fresh baked goods before becoming Gideon's Farmer's Market (adding catered meats to the Bryan location and pasta, pastries, and beer to the Northgate location--free delivery to dorms, too), and then closing the Northgate location, which became Equinox (the Bryan location closed later). It was somewhere in the long history of being Gideon's/Farmer's Market that it absorbed 331 University (likely 331 University used one of the dual entrances in the building, though Basil Whippet's removed one of the entrances).

By 1993 it was Equinox, and by 1999 it was Crooked Path Ale House. Somewhere during this time it was also Northgate Café, as well. In 2005 it was The Library. While having a bar with a name like that isn't too unique (seems like Michigan Tech had the same idea), The Library closed in 2008 or 2009 due to poor sales. BMO's, a rap-oriented bar, opened in the spot in 2009. It ultimately did not last more than a year. In 2010, it opened as Basil Whippet's Pub & Apothecary Lounge, and after closing in 2016, became "Icon Night Club & Lounge". The building has had a few exterior updates over time as well.

Metapost: This was originally part of a page of University Drive, since removed. This part has been expanded and updated.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Tradition at Northgate

The road doesn't go much further than this.


"The Tradition at Northgate" (301 Church Avenue) began construction in 2000 with the parking garage construction in 2001. It likely opened in about 2002, as that's when most of Second Street closed off and became a pedestrian promenade, the remaining part of it turning directly into the Northgate Parking Garage (picture taken May '14). Prior to the Tradition, it was formerly a church, with the 1989 tenant being United Campus Ministry (likely something else prior).

(This post is updated and split off from what is currently called "Northgate: Church Avenue" at press time).

Friday, May 31, 2019

Church Street Blues and BBQ

2014 picture by author

Church Avenue, another Northgate street, was always Church Avenue. It used to be when you could refer to this as "Church Street" and no one would care, but since the 2011 annexation of Wellborn, which has an actual Church Street, it forced the Church Avenue name into more common usage. Renaming either street would meet resistance, so we'll have to live with what we got.

The building at 100 Church Avenue was built in 2010 and opened before the "Great Church Street Mix-Up" and originally opened as "Church Street Blues and BBQ", which I personally never was able to eat at since it was not open for lunch and only in the evening and night of certain days (weekends and the days leading up to it). It was one of the first places to have New Republic Brewing Company beer on tap back in 2011, but in 2014, Church Street Blues closed.

In 2015, the site became the home of "West End Elixir Company", which catered to an older crowd, with much of the staff being veterans. It closed in 2018 within a year of a new location opened in downtown Bryan. (This post is split off from what is currently called "Northgate: Church Avenue" at press time).

Metapost: I can no longer sustain three posts a week as this tends to stifle the updating of older posts and especially creation of new ones. Until further notice, posts will appear every Monday and Thursday.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Northgate Shell

Taken by author in 2013.


Metapost time: you'll notice that the site is back to what it used to look like for a number of reasons but with a few differences, like a larger text size (still under consideration) and a start to get rid of the dated Impact font, which mobile doesn't even use anyway. Additionally, this is going to be similar to future posts, taking a break from all-new material to expand on older posts, or update old ones.

The Shell (609 University) has been here for many years, dating back to the mid-1960s with renovations in the mid-1980s (a new canopy, and likely the start of the Zip'N name, as the Zip'N name does not appear in early 1980s phone books). The signage next to University has also been the same for years (though I can't recall if the sign was demolished during the University Drive construction), gaining few updates over the years, like when the Shell logo was updated in the early 2000s. An interesting feature of this store is that it has a decent selection of Indian food (Battalion link), when this began I don't know but it's been that way since at least 2012. Gas is usually priced ten cents higher than elsewhere.

Friday, March 8, 2019

215 University Drive

No alcohol served here, then or now. [Picture from Project HOLD]


Until very recently, I used to have a big article on University Drive going through Northgate. Anyway, I put it in Draft, and for some reason it wiped the last several years of updates to it, requiring me to go back to Archive.org to pull back the information lost. This building, built sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, was "Andre's Bicycle Shop" according to the earliest records I've accessed. Later on, it became "Bill's Style Shop" at 215 University but eventually Bill retired and the space was absorbed into Zapatos Cantina, which eventually became Wobbly Monkey. The original Zapatos section (DoubleDave's) was not part of the deal, but Wobbly Monkey never lasted more than two semesters because the owner sold out. It is now Northgate Juice Joint, which will use part of the outdoor space for an urban garden. Surprisingly, after opening sometime in late 2014, Northgate Juice Joint still operates nearly five years later as of this writing.

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. Before the page was removed, 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, 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, but it doesn't even involve a food truck anymore, they opened a permanent location at Century Square.

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 PRESENT!
Today, of course, it's yet another student housing residential tower, known as Aspire College Station with 16 stories (including parking levels) and 800 beds. BB&T actually moved back in. By 2019, it got Fajita Pete's, Which Wich, and All Phone Toys. APT occupies a forgotten space on facing Church Avenue.

UPDATE 2/25/19: Removed BCAD link, added links for MESS Waffles and Gumby's, and replaced the last paragraph with the new building.
UPDATE 8/15/19: Added additional tenants

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...

UPDATE: Here's a comment posted from 2016 regarding Dead Lazlo's from Mikes Teks: Just wanted to confirm that Dead Lazlos was owned by the same people that owned Sweet Eugene's (back when coffee came in ceramic mugs/cups and not paper cups with lids). College Main was closed due to a major reconstruction project during its first year of being open which hurt business. After its biggest supporter among the owners of Sweet Eugene's left (he used to part his Motorcycle inside Eugene's when he worked there, cool guy) they turned it into the Copacetic Cafe (or so pathetic Cafe as we called it) Same owners and coffee, but no longer had a Gothic feel to it and it soon after I 'm told. Best 2 years of my life in BCS was spent at Dead Lazlo's. Non-smoking section was in the back and the Coffin by the bar. Good times.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Circle Drive-In and The Things That Replaced It

I'd probably be facing the screen at this point (if a long way away). Picture by author, August 2019.

In the planning process of the blog's current layout, I had considered deleting this post in favor of the dedicated Circle Drive-In post I had written in 2012. However, I noticed that even though it was a later post, this page (originally on Newport Condominiums) had far more views, and thus better SEO.

The Circle Drive-In of College Station, Texas, was located near the corner of modern-day College Avenue and University Drive. Still whispered about on the Internet and unrelated to the Circle Drive-In in Waco, mostly intact but now a flea market, the Circle Drive-In was so named because (like its unrelated Waco cousin) a traffic circle was nearby (which is now gone). In the old Circle Drive-In page of the blog, I added three pictures from Mapping Historic Aggieland from 1964, 1979, and 1983. The address is officially unknown, some say 402 Nagle but I can't find a proof of that. More accurate is the opening from 1952, but even Cinema Treasures, which often lists the first movie(s) shown at a new theater, does not have much information on it.
1964

1979

1983

Picture credit: Historic Aggieland

It disappeared entirely between 1979 and 1983 (probably closed soon after the time University Square came into existence, which had a movie theater of its own) and was quickly forgotten.

Both North Ramparts (400 Nagle) and Newport Condominiums (402 Nagle) were built in 1981. Newport met its end in 2013, either because St. Mary's bought it or because of questionable structural integrity (note in Street View, the siding is missing). Despite that, they were still leasing as "The Lodge at Northgate" a few months before demolition. The apartments were built on a modified pier and beam layout where the parking was below the building about half a floor down, which is admittedly somewhat unique for College Station, but buildings aren't worth saving on being unique alone. One comment I received (in August 2016) had some rather unkind words to say about the building, even back in the late 1990s: I lived in Newport Condominiums in 1998-99 [in] a three bedroom unit. The rooms were very small and narrow. The management didn't seem to clean the units for new residents. And it seemed like the management also did not like to repair things, paint either the interior or exterior, etc. The place was going downhill fast. I do remember it was cheap and the location couldn't be beat, as far as proximity to campus.

Most of the theater ended up becoming the "Mud Lot", a cheap dirt parking lot owned by St. Mary's, though when most of it was converted to actual parking for the church, the other half closed (and some of the land was never even used as parking). This would remain untouched for well over a decade until construction started on "The Stack at Legacy Point" (711 Church Avenue) which was in conjunction with redeveloping University Square (a project that is stillborn as of this writing), which seems to be relatively decent for those who actually lived there. The apartments have only one ground-level tenant, a MedPlus medical clinic branch ("MedPlus at the Stack") which opened in February 2014.

Updated August 2019.

Monday, June 30, 2014

110-112 Nagle

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 a Blimpie for a few years (at least into fall 2001) before 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). A friend claims that the Blimpie served an Indian food menu that may have contributed to its eventual closure.

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.

In May 2017, Lippman Music closed permanently when Brian Lippman retired, with Jin's closing soon after, fueling speculation the building would be redeveloped. The building was repainted (but not otherwise touched), and by mid-2018 two new tenants were operating, BonAppeTea (112) and Nam Cafe (110).

Update 3 in June 2019 to incorporate two other updates.

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 the old building and erected "Northgate Center" (Brazos CAD says 2002 as build date), 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. Further update in March 2019 to account for new building.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

PLAY Gaming Café

Taken June 2014.


Once a Planned Parenthood location a long time ago (likely something else, built in 1964), this is now a bar (Cedar Lane, another bar is in the back), but the focus is on PLAY Gaming Café, which was open around 2005 and advertised at Hastings (another now-defunct establishment). The College Main location was tucked out of sight from the main Northgate establishments, and related parking problems didn't help. From the comments, I have this quote from "downhillcrasher", "I remember Play pretty well, they had everything from the latest games to old school nintendo. Almost everything that is. What didn't they have? Cheap beer. And what do you need to make it in Northgate? Cheap beer." The archived website website sort of works, but almost nothing remains of it on the Wayback Machine save for a Flash intro video and a page of the forums (appropriately, from 2005).\

303 College Main

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

Boyett Street Businesses

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.

This post will show some of the businesses of Boyett Road in detail, specifically the block between Patricia and University, not including the Campus Theater. 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 (formerly "Paddock Lane" but they dropped the "Lane" and changed the logo)
113 - Tipsy Turtle

It's been difficult to find out buildings about this strip simply because they change addresses, so this next section may never be complete.

103 - Hole in the Wall (2000 directory, I seem to remember it had the same ownership of Shadow Canyon and may even have had an entrance)
105 - The Cue (1996 directory). Directories also mention a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter in this space. In 1985, this was Whole Earth Provision Company. Almost a decade before that, it was the home of University Cycling.

Are they talking about the elderly?

This space was probably absorbed into O'Bannon's later.

107 - Boyett Properties (office?)

109 - Paddock's space had "Gizmo's Cafe & Bar" in the 1980s. I received a comment a few years ago about this place: "I worked at Gizmo's in the late 80's as a server and bartender. It was a great little lunch place with good food. At night, it became the place where all of the Northgate bartenders and servers came to drink, as it was (notably at the time) the only place with a full liquor license on the Northgate strip. Fun times."

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.

113 - This was BJ's Package Store in 1980, and likely that was the first store in this section (the building with apartments over it was built in the late 1970s). Later on, it became U.S. Marine Corps recruiters offices (moved from a different section?) and eventually becoming Pinky's New School Tattoos by the late 2000s.


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


By no means is the list complete. I know I missed some ("Ozone", "Vertigo" being among the not-here), but email me if you have more information. (Updated June 2019, mostly reorganization).

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 made the CVS and its other tenants definitely less accessible.

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 sometime around late 2017 when it was quickly replaced with Shun De Mom, another Asian restaurant.

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. By late 2018, however, they moved back to their original address, this time occupying a ground level location.

July 27 2014 - Updated.
October 09 2016 - Updated a second time.
May 16 2019 - Updated a third time to account for new tenants and gone ones.

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.


As for Flying Tomato, two comments I received (from "The Twice-Tasted Life" and James Durbin, respectively), mentioned a few things about it, namely the plants in the restaurant.

I remember the Flying Tomato very well. It was "Flying Tomato Pizza in a Pan" featuring square pizza slices in a variety of tasty flavors. I met my first wife there, and she was their "Flying Tomato" in parade marches of the day. They had a pool table or two upstairs and the mezzanine was lines with plants. The company started with a restaurant in Denton near the UNT campus. LOVE your blog, and I'd hate to see it go, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

The atmosphere was very nice when it was The Flying Tomato, with lots of plants, a fireplace if I am recalling correctly, and a big roomy space overall.

After Flying Tomato it became Two Pesos, a Taco Cabana knockoff (as briefly discussed here), which by all accounts was cheap and tasty. Two Pesos closed in 1993 following a Supreme Court case that affirmed that Two Pesos copied Taco Cabana's format too closely, and the restaurants ended up selling out to Taco Cabana, though there was already one there at the time, so it closed.

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).

In 2018, the Backyard, like Café Eccell opened a "co-branded" La Bodega outlet inside.

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.
Update May 2019: Comment integration and slight update