Showing posts with label university drive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label university drive. 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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Diamond Shamrock, Now U-Haul

Diamond Shamrock signage, date unknown. From Project HOLD, cropped and re-balanced.

Located at 501 Texas Avenue South, this Diamond Shamrock existed from 1989 to around 1998 when it was closed in the process of the Texas Avenue widening. The convenience store probably wasn't even a full brand, not even Diamond Shamrock's "Corner Store" (which existed as far back as 1990, but I don't believe for any of the local locations until they were converted to Valero). Afterwards, it was absorbed by the U-Haul dealership (formerly Texas Avenue Moving Center) located at 519 Texas.

Diamond Shamrock had previously been a Sigmor Shamrock store (a predecessor company to Diamond Shamrock, though it might have converted to Diamond Shamrock briefly before being rebuilt, as at least one Sigmor store saw a conversion), as was a few others. The U-Haul dealership appears to have originally been on the site of a Philips 66, and records indicate they used a building leftover to do operations, but after Diamond Shamrock died, they moved to that building and removed the old one for more parking.

The style of Diamond Shamrock (black, multiple colors) had to have been more common but no pictures exist of that style on

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.

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 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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sparks Building

From College Station's 2004 Annual Report

401-05 University Drive

When I went to college at Texas A&M, there were five tenants at the Sparks Building, which was not even called that anymore. The way I would describe it at the time was at the bottom level, there were four storefronts. The first one was The Corner at 401 University, the second one was also part of The Corner (windows only, you could see where a door had been removed), then Pita Pit at 403 University, then for the fourth section, two doors, one into Northgate Vintage and one into Potato Shack. If you went into Northgate Vintage, there was a tiny, ladder-like spiral staircase that led to an attic-like area above Pita Pit. (It used to be actual vintage clothing, but by the time I went to A&M it had mostly evolved into an "eclectic styles" boutique).

To access the fifth business, Aggieland Barber Shop, there was a staircase on the outside, with a landing for the second level of Aggieland Barber Shop (accessed out of a side entrance), then the rest of the way up to The Corner roof. On The Corner side of the building, the side of the building facing College Main on the upper level had been gutted, I remember a staircase going up to the roof and passing a door that had nothing connected to it, just a door on the wall with no floor (it was quite strange).

After I went to A&M, The Corner took over the rest of the building, and Potato Shack, Pita Pit, and Northgate Vintage all closed (Northgate Vintage closed September 2015). However, while Pita Pit's space was gutted, Northgate Vintage and Potato Shack's weren't, probably because they were a victim of higher rents. Aggieland Barber Shop continued to operate. Here's a cell phone photo I took of the rooftop part after a football game around 2012, you can see it's packed as people are enjoying food and beer on a warm afternoon.

The building got its stucco front and rooftop seating after 2005 shortly after that picture (the old "Camera" sign was removed), and the 2004-era Sparks Building was the best it looked, as the early 1990s version was pretty grody-looking.

But at one time, the building was pretty grody-looking.

As the building has had a variety of tenants over the years and has been reconfigured over time, I can't tell what replaced what. Northgate Vintage was 403 University Drive Suite D, Pita Pit was 403 University Drive (no suite), Potato Shack was 405A, and Aggieland Barber Shop is 403A.

Other tenants this building has had over the years:

Barker Photography (405) - 1972 listing.

Campus Photo Center Inc. (401) - Flagship tenant of building, ad from late 1980s (from InSite Magazine's archives), which will conclude today's blogposts.

CD Warehouse (unknown) - See photo above, existed in the early 1990s.

City Surplus (403) - Likely in the place where Northgate Vintage was, former name of Military Depot before it moved to Eastgate.

Haight-Ashbury Co. (403c) - Listed in 1993 directory. Possible "BEADS" store.

L-T L & Associates (403e) - Listed in 1993 directory, tax filing.

Mario & Son's Pizzeria (405a) - Replaced by Nipa Hot?

Nipa Hot (405) - Thai restaurant in the 1990s and early 2000s. Succumbed to high rent.

Quantum Cow (403) - "Tutoring" in the form of test answers. Closed around late 2000s, replaced by Northgate Vintage if my addresses are right.

Right Angle Calculators (401a) - Replaced by Pita Pit? In 1989 directory.

Star of the Sea Catholic Bookstore (403d) - Listed in 1993 directory.

Starships & Dragons (404) - Mentioned in 1989 directory. Comic book store that also had a location in Culpepper Plaza. Not in corresponding phone book.

Steve 5 (unknown) - Mentioned in Northgate Historical Resources.

This picture is more recent (2013), but I have no idea when it was from, because it sure wasn't erected anytime in the last three years. It obviously seems to not count the lower level tenants.

Updated June 2019