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.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pooh's Park, Tinsley's, and Others Replaced by a Shopping Center

View of the center today


Once again, we come back to one of our blog, this time to roll a few smaller posts into a bigger one. As the picture above shows, the area at Holleman and Texas Avenue is now a large (kind of low end) shopping center. In addition to covering all the changes that went on there (which I have yet to do), I can combine a few older posts into this one. So, first, we have Pooh's Park at 1907 Texas Avenue South.


There's far more to Pooh's Park (no, not related to the "Winnie" one) I can get into today, because it's a popular topic on local nostalgia threads: if you want to learn more, you can head over to Facebook to talk or browse through old photos (and they include newspaper articles!)

I never got to experience Pooh's Park myself, but from what I've seen and read, it was like Chuck E. Cheese, Putt-Putt, and a skating rink (roller, not ice) all wrapped into one. It opened in 1972 and was where the shopping center where Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, and Ross are now. I would like to say that Pooh's Park remained open until it became too valuable to remain (and was getting run-down anyway) and closed in the early 2000s, but no, that's not the case (it is very similar to a certain defunct theme park that closed about a decade ago, though). It closed in by 1989 (at that point, the phone book no longer lists it) and only the sign remained up (with the logo of the yellow dog they had, and not the one pictured above, and the name gone) until around the time they built the shopping center in the early 2000s, and then remained up until a little while afterward.

A 1984 phone book has a different ad that does mention things like a water slide (408 feet) and a different address (at some point, they changed to 105 Holleman, though based on what you can see from Google Earth, and backed up by a picture of Texas Avenue from a local history book I don't have a copy of with me) is that Pooh's Park was accessed through Texas Avenue, not Holleman.

Google Earth 1995, with modern streets overlaid


Some older maps (circa 2001-ish, long after Pooh's Park bit the dust) put a "Pooh's Lane" roughly where the Bahama Buck's is now, but unless that first part of Holleman Drive East was actually called that (after all, there's a few things that do support that, including the odd alignment of Holleman Drive and Holleman Drive East suggests that the East part was first, and then Holleman Drive extended that way later by way of a particularly awkward curve, or the fact that the subdivision nearby (behind the strip center and the other businesses on the east side) is named Pooh's Park Subdivision.

Sharing the address with Pooh's Park (at least the original address) was one "Furniture Liquidation Mart" which closed in October 1985 (The Eagle), and I would guess that this is what Bahama Buck's replaced (it used to be the foundations of another building). It should be noted, though, my 1984 phone book doesn't list it.

Near Pooh's Park was Tinsley's Chicken 'n Rolls.

Chicken done well, chicken well done!

Opening in late 1979, Tinsley's was located on 1905 Texas Avenue but was closed by 1989 after the Tinsley family sold out to Church's, which would eventually close or convert the restaurants (I don't think this restaurant was ever converted). Later, it was Kokopelli's (by 1998), and soon after, the Clay Oven (by 1999), a quick-serve (cheap!) Indian restaurant. This location, unfortunately, was razed for the shopping center, but Clay Oven was already closed by then. I have no actual pictures of what the building looked like in reality, nor do I remember Clay Oven being there at all. Sad, isn't it?

The plane was a real thing, though, David Tinsley used an actual 1930s plane to promote his restaurants, not unlike how Flying Tomato used hot air balloons.

While the "Boss Bird" made a brief appearance in Huntsville (after a long period of total absence), it is now closed (now a Hartz Chicken Buffet). It wasn't particularly to die for (although I think the "dried out chicken" complaints were an over-exaggeration, at least from what I saw in my visit).

There were a few other places on Holleman that later disappeared beyond Jot 59 (see picture), though one of them was a quick-lube auto place (name escapes me).

So anyway, all that was torn down for the shopping center (University Shopping Center, the name of which wasn't promoted), which opened around 2003 (after the H-E-B, I remember), with many of the stores it has today (Hobby Lobby, Shoe Carnival, Ross Dress for Less, Petco). Hobby Lobby moved from their old location at Post Oak Square, with the others being new. There was a branch of Loupot's, CiCi's (which came a few years later, as the old Culpepper Plaza was partially demolished), and a Goody's Family Clothing.

Goody's would close in early 2009 as the chain went under, but it was replaced with a few new stores, Big Lots (returning back to the market, as by that time, their old location at the former Kmart had been closed for several years) and a Twin Liquors (which, despite slightly nicer décor, seemed like a smaller, inferior competitor to Spec's).

Another shopping strip was built around the same time as the rest (but named The Shops at Wolf Pen Plaza) with Starbucks Coffee, a Sprint store (which initially had the older logo), and Champion Firearms (moved from the Kroger shopping center).

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?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

413 Texas Avenue, A Distinctly Former Pizza Inn

Picture taken late October 2015, shortly before rainclouds rolled in and drenched the town.

The rather ragged-looking "Rodney D. Young Insurance" at 413 Texas Avenue, which looks like a candidate for demolition should something better come along (the Exxon at the corner is constantly being ragged on as being an eyesore in a prime location). It was a Pizza Inn in the late 1960s (Brazos CAD says it was built in 1966) to sometime in the mid-1980s (and I'm not sure when Rodney D. Young came in, since I don't have city directories, only a few phone books). In 1989, it was Star Video and by 1993 it was EZ Pawn. As of January 2018, the location is no longer Rodney D. Young Insurance, it is now Legacy Tattoo Lounge.

1970s phone book. It still looks remarkably similar.


EDIT 7-28-2018: Integrated August 10, 2016 edit into main post. Removed two paragraphs irrelevant to the main topic. Added Legacy Tattoo Lounge mention.

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.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jimmy Jackson's Exxon

The landmark Exxon sign has stood here for over three decades.


This is the first new post in many months, but it's not a truly new post, it's just an old post "edited for syndication", and was originally part of The Far South Point of Texas Avenue (which is no longer, as the post has been rewritten), one of the last posts, which itself was originally supposed to be a part of "Texas Avenue: The Main Street of the City". Anyway, "Jimmy Jackson's Exxon" opened in 1983 at Miller's Lane (FM 2818 before it finished expanding to the highway) and Texas Avenue, this Exxon has a massive sign that was clearly grandfathered in as College Station would not allow such a majestic structure anymore like that, this Exxon was a full service stop built catty-corner to the Kmart on the edge of town (well, it was the edge back then) with a self-service car wash, garage, and convenience store.

Selling out to "Franky's" in 2001 (aka Frankie's), I actually managed to make contact with Jimmy Jackson's daughter (Mr. Jackson sadly passed away in 2013), but could not locate any photos of the gas station in its heyday. There was a second Jimmy Jackson gas station, which was sold and torn down well before his death, it was the Eckerd (now CVS) at the corner of Villa Maria and Texas Avenue.

In reality, the sign isn't quite so massive as it appears from further 2818 (mostly due to the hills), but something tells me that it was designed to be seen from the bypass when it was built (at least going northbound). As of this writing, I don't seem to have a picture of the actual "Franky's" convenience store, but it seems to have been altered from its original form anyway. I also get the feeling Franky's is kind of sleazy anyway (it was one of the ones pointed out by KBTX as having synthetic cannabis before a variety of laws cracked down on that).

2801 Texas Avenue South

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kyle Field


The history of Kyle Field would be kind of difficult to write, since it has been heavily modified over the years, and because Kyle Field is so iconic, there's a million better sources than my somewhat derived blog. But the most iconic part of Kyle Field, the west end, constructed as we knew it in 1979, is no more. It has been less than 24 hours as of this writing when the west side was imploded. You could feel the earth shake as concrete pillars hit the ground.

Editor's Note: Read this.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Safeway at the Health Department

Boring government building or a disguised old supermarket? You decide!

Cross-posted from Safeway and Albertsons in Texas Blog

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


Used to be here! (1960)


Now it's here! (1971)

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

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

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Scoates Hall

333 Spence


Who loves old buildings? I do! I took these pictures of the 1932-built Scoates Hall in June 2012 shortly after renovation plans were announced (I think Scoates was last renovated sometime in the 1950s or 1960s, I have a hard time believing that a lot of what I was seeing was 1930s vintage). Unfortunately, I didn't have good picture taking skills or a good frame of reference to where these were (the floor plan threw me a loop, you can't directly access the two halves of the building, and even the second floor connections require some manuevering), so the pictures aren't entirely adequate. I can however tell you that the water fountain in one shot is totally gone, the stairs were reinforced with new guardrails (the old rails used to terrify me--especially since they were below a taller person's center of gravity), and the new hallways look nice and shiny, though of course something is missing.

Check out the shots here, on Flickr.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Zachry Engineering Center: End of an Era

We'll be exploring this one soon enough.


This building has so much to cover about, it's not even on the site. It opened in 1972 and I promised a massive post on it, but that kept getting delayed as I rushed to wrap the site up before Kyle Field was imploded. Even afterward, some upload errors and a low priority prevented me from finishing this. Check out the progress here. (Updated: new link)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

4300 Texas Avenue

The building in its original form. It doesn't look like this today, thanks to a later facade re-do. Courtesy John Ellisor.


Just across from the Luby's, we had the first local location of Piggly Wiggly (owned by Six Star Foods locally, at least in the later days). First opened in 1963, I can't nail down when it exactly it closed, but it seems to have been in the late 1970s or early 1980s (and why it had an even number despite being on the odd-numbered side of Texas Avenue I don't know).

After Piggly Wiggly left, part of the store (suite B) was reopened as a discount grocery store, Jewel T. Owned by the same company running the Jewel-Osco stores in the Chicago area (and a play on the name "Jewel Tea", their original name), Jewel-T was a discount store reportedly similar to Aldi and took residence in older-generation grocery stores. Unfortunately, details are sparse on this elusive store, and it didn't last long. In 1984, The Jewel Companies were bought by American Stores, and Jewel T was sold off to Save-a-Lot, but the Texas division was bought by Grand Prairie-based Shop-N-Sav and renamed Texas-T.

In 1994, Texas-T was bought from them by Save-a-Lot's parent company, SuperValu, and converted to Save-a-Lot (the rest of the Texas T stores were) before closing for good a few years later. It's not surprising if Save-a-Lot closed soon after, a failed stand in College Station is pretty much forgotten (and hey, that was an old Piggly Wiggly, too!)

After Save-a-Lot closed, it became Jacque's Toys & Games, a local upscale "learning toys" store. Now, Jacque's would claim it's been around since 1986 (the "start of business" time), but not in that space. It was originally called "The Toy Box" at located at 3806 Texas Avenue South in Bryan, later home to Brazos Blind & Draperies. Jacque's closed in September 2016.

If I have my chronology right, the left location (suite A) later became Brazos Valley Christian Books (coincidentally, located at 3808 Texas Avenue in the early 1990s) and later Pack & Mail, which closed in the latter part of the 2000s. It's now been subdivided once more, as you can see in my pictures. Because I don't have actual address-based directories, I haven't been able to ascertain what was in suite A after Piggly Wiggly's departure.

It's important to note that although Piggly Wiggly was at 4300 Texas Avenue, but while the shopping center is still called that, none of the stores have that address. One more story to tell: the Brazos Natural Foods store was here since 1988, and has long been a purveyor of organic and gluten free items long before the mainstream supermarkets had them. Adjacent to Brazos Natural Foods is a few other stores, but those have Rosemary addresses.

The current Google Maps imagery shows Aggieland Preschool Academy at the old Jacque's and Lone Star Quiltworks and BCS Fitness on the left.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Burger King at the End (or the Beginning) of Texas Avenue

The store in question.

This post is just on a Burger King (3129 Texas Avenue S). Before I get into that, let me tell you this. I would be lying to you if I said that nostalgia was not one of the driving forces behind this site. After all, I grew up here, and in these posts, published in the last few years and updated since then (such as this post, which received a rewrite nearly a year after its creation) detail most everything I remembered or should've remembered. I've already told about the shops and restaurants here, many of which I grew up, and in versions past of this site, even included things like my old schools, or Adamson Lagoon, and probably if I had more time and research, the doctors and dentists as well (the old pediatric dentist office is gone, with the old Scott & White building at 1600 University Drive East to come soon after).

This part of Texas Avenue, originally explored in a full post with all the descriptions of the stores nearby, including the pool store and the curiously unnoticed empty spot was really special to me in years past. You see, back in those days, the only reason why we would go this way is to go somewhere cool, like my uncle's house in Baton Rouge or perhaps Houston. Even in the early 2000s, there just wasn't a lot out there. Rock Prairie Road had stuff on it, of course, like the hospital, junior high school (whoops, middle school), or even the nice new Kroger that opened in 2000, but that was just about it. There wasn't even another interchange until Greens Prairie Road, and that just had the water tower and an Exxon/McDonald's combo.

Since the Highway 6 bypass was built in the 1970s, prior to around 2006, there was an intersection here with the southbound one-way traffic from the bypass intersecting with Deacon. To the south was Texas Avenue turning into an entrance for Highway 6 south with the northbound lane going from Highway 6. To the south at Deacon was a two-way frontage road that paralleled Texas Avenue up to Wal-Mart and became the southbound Highway 6 frontage road for the section south of Texas Avenue. Yes, for a time, you could drive straight from Nantucket Drive to the Wal-Mart parking lot and back without making a single turn or getting on the highway.

Around 2006, that all changed, and the set-up was altered. The road that paralleled Texas Avenue was cut off at an apartment complex, and the two lanes from Texas Avenue went to the frontage road south (now all one-way) or the highway. Another thing that did change was the demolition of a small Diamond Shamrock gas station (catty-corner from a new Texaco with a Subway inside).

Opening in 2007 (early 2007, I believe), this Burger King opened to replace the one at Culpepper Plaza, which was torn down and replaced with a Chick-fil-A. I always found it a bit strange that there just wasn't very many Burger Kings in town, as in some places they compete head to head with McDonald's...but it still wasn't too far away, and it was never very crowded. As long as it stays open and I don't get some sort of food poisoning, that's a plus!

Updated in August 2015 with new focus. There used to be other photos and a bit of other info, but sorry, that has gone into "storage"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Rare Gas Station Revival


Figures that I'd have to update this blog every once in a while. This is a small update to one of the Texas Avenue parts with new photos and info. Located next to a Century 21 office (which we didn't photograph), this was a Mobil for years (at least back to 1980, which is when I have phone books) but closed in 2004 (to the best of my memory) and was converted to Stratta Auto Repair for a number of years a few years later. I never released these pictures because the direct sunlight tended to mess them up, but here they are.
Looking at the garage, September 2013. Sorry my thumb partially obscures the shot. It was bright!
Another view, September 2013. I think that chimney is from another building which I believe may be part of the same complex. I remember the name of the business was written on the side wall facing Lincoln, but I'll have to do more research into it.
The pumps are still intact, September 2013. What a time warp!
Mobil signs, September 2013. A lone shadow looks in.
September 2013.
September 2013.

In September I returned to take a few more pictures. Sadly, inquiring within about the Mobil signs had no positive response--the signs were gone, likely disposed. Bummer. FabricCare has made their home in the garage while a tobacco store is opening next to it. Here's some more pictures from Sept. 2014.

Wow, this thing still lights up!.
Another pump that lights up.
More lights.


Behind it was an old garage, originally known as "Murphy's garage" or something like that (informally) but later it became Mechanics Unlimited, all the way into the early 2000s. Eventually, it closed. The building was recently repainted on my visit. The maroon board in the lower right was used to board up the garage doors, while you can see the maroon paint that was once on the bricks

It's 102 Lincoln, but there appears to be something going in there, though the fact that it was issued nearly two years ago makes that dubious. By the way, the chimney seen in the old Mobil shots are from this building, not the Mobil, which is 901 Texas Avenue S.

UPDATE 8/30/15: Shortly after making this post, the renovations were completed at this location. A sign replaced the long-empty Mobil that read, "The College Station" with "Discount Tobacco" written under it.

I still lived in the neighborhood at the time, and was aware of this. "Cute," I thought. "I like the fact that they made efforts to make this look very similar to the Mobil that was once here." After all, no gas station had been here for about a decade, the vacant "Texashell" was never re-occupied, probably owing to a difficult location, and I found it implausible that anyone would open a gas station without an electronic display. Everyone did, and every year more gas stations (especially the Shell stations) would upgrade. I should've noticed that the prices were indeed changing with the market, and what ended up happening is that during late summer, a Valero banner was placed over the sign. It shocked me, because not only was Valero buying essentially a dated gas station (the pumps were updated, they were not mock-ups, but the station hadn't seen a lot of updates over the years), but it was real the whole time! I felt a bit foolish for having thought so (plus "The College Station", the name, was a decent enough pun, though the "Discount Tobacco" threw me off) but come on...at the rate it was going, it was likely to be razed entirely for a new building, with the pumps taken out in the process, or at least, have the canopy destroyed and paved over. You would agree, right?

UPDATE: 10/21/15: Sadly, Valero has upgraded the prices to digital numbers. Alas...

Note: The title photo appears on Wikimapia with permission. I also plan to "outsource" the post, as part of this post was written as the big Texas Avenue post. That's why the name of the post as of 2015 went from "Mobil & Mechanics" to "A Rare Gas Station Revival". Please stand by while further edits continue.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Last Days of the Diamond T Stables


Back in 2013, I wrote about Alta Vista Christian Academy, which included a bit about the west part of Rock Prairie Road and mentioned these, some stables that had been on the road (originally Gandy Road) for a number of years. A few years ago, the land went up for sale on this one, and I knew I had to act fast: because a month ago or so, the city had revealed Equinox subdivision, which would eventually become "The Revelry Townhomes". And that's when I took these pictures. Diamond T seems to have opened in the early 1990s. Google Earth shows them there in 1995 and my 1998 phone book lists it, but the 1993 ones (and earlier) do not. Soon after I took these, the entire property was completely torn down and construction on the new development began. The Diamond T Storage next door continues to live on, though, but for how long is anyone's guess.


3270 Rock Prairie Road West (Gandy Road)

Updated 11.15 with new title, slightly updated information, and other minor changes.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Nightlife at Doux Chene Apartments

See those stairs leading up to the second level in the main office building? That's the focus today here. (Google Maps Picture)


I originally wrote this in August 2014 and the text below reflects that, as well as an email/addition I got from the owners at the time. In April 2015, however, all this would change when it was sold and was rebranded as "Flats on 12", which so far over a year and a half later (August 2016) looks like the typical game apartments have run in town, change the name, give a repaint, cheap remodel, jack up the rent. This also added a lighted sign on the front of the building and also changed the entrance to the former restaurant/nightclub area (I think it's supposed to be a clubhouse now). This is a bit disappointing because Doux Chene was famously the holdout in these sorts of shenanigans. And now back to our original post...

First off, this is not an apartments review site. Nor is the title supposed to be some sort of snarky joke. Most of the content here is long out of date. If you came via Google looking for information regarding the actual apartments as they stand today, move on. Or not. I could always use visitors here. So, Doux Chene Apartments (I think it's pronounced "doe shane", though I'm not entirely sure, and the translation is "sweet oak") is one of your typical run-down apartment complexes from the 1970s, except it's more than that.

First off, Doux Chene was designed to be trendy, trendy enough that they would actually advertise themselves as "country club apartment living", and trendy enough to be the first true mixed-use building in the City of College Station.

From circa 1974 to late 1970s, it was "Mansard House". Mansard House, despite being the upper level of an apartment complex on the edge of town (sure, why not?) was one of the really nice places in town. Live entertainment, seafood, lobster, lamb, and more were all on the menu.


This was the kind of apartment complex Doux Chene used to be, and apparently wasn't one of a kind...the Chateaux Dijon apartments, known for when George W. Bush lived there in the early 1970s, was also the same theme and layout, but unlike Doux Chene, managed to upkeep itself quite nicely.

By 1980, while Doux Chene was still successful, Mansard House had closed and was replaced with Studio 2818, an actual discotheque.

Source: personal collection


Later night clubs included Dallas: The Night Club...


...and finally, Scandals.


Most of these are sadly relatively undocumented, only whispers across forums and other sources, including stories of ladies' nights with male strippers, with men being let in after the women had several drinks. Perhaps it's better that some of the craziness that went on is better left unsaid (I'm sure there were many regrettable nights).

Doux Chene of course is also a rather unlucky apartment complex, such as a tornado in 2006 striking a building, necessitating its demolition, or the fact that the building caught fire some months later due to improper wiring (it's also worth noting that anytime I read about an apartment complex fire, it used to be that there was a good chance it was Doux Chene).

If there are any restaurants/clubs I missed, or you have any memories of them, please write in the comments.

Since writing this post, we (I) was contacted by a management representative of Doux Chene Apartments, whose name has been redacted for identity purposes.

"While your account of the history of the complex is mostly accurate, I take issue with the assertion that Doux Chene has not 'managed to upkeep itself.' While the property did fall into a state of disrepair in the late 80's to the early 90's, the current management has put a lot of effort (and money) into repairs and renovations and enhancements. While there is no hiding the fact that the property is 40 years old, it is in very good condition for a property of its age.

Doux Chene has indeed encountered more than its share of challenges.

A lightning strike destroyed 4 apartment units, severely damaged a dozen others. No injuries, a quarter of a million dollars in damages.

Severe hail required the replacement of nearly a dozen roofs, another quarter of a million dollars.

The tornado in 2006 actually destroyed two buildings, damaged several roofs, caused water damage in nearly 80 apartments, required replacement of over 160 central air conditioning systems. Total casualty loss, just over $4 million.

And then the small fire that happened shortly thereafter... The fire marshal initially indicated it was electrical, but upon further investigation it was found to be caused by a resident's cigarette butt rolling into a gap at the edge of his balcony.

Through all of this, we have been blessed in multiple ways. Firstly, there have been no injuries as a result of any of these incidences. Also, our insurance company has consistently paid in a timely fashion, and we have been fully made whole. We have also been given the reassurance, that no matter what we face, we will be able to come through it. I won't get all preachy here, but our faith in God has been strengthened through these difficulties.

Some ads were also sent as part of this, including Doux Chene hosting some wild parties (it's hard to imagine even the student-oriented apartments specifically hosting a keg party today)


As wild partying obviously upset the neighbors, a nearby apartment complex offered a shotgun as among the freebies you could get for signing a lease.


- 9/3/14



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Luby's Cafeteria

For several years prior to closure, the sign had read "Luby's Drive-Thru"


Today's post isn't filler, it's something I actually have content and information for, the late Luby's Cafeteria in Bryan, Texas. Opening in February 1977, it opened at a time when cafeterias were more plentiful, but much like the clientele they tend to service, they've been dying off. No more Piccadilly Cafeteria stores exist in Texas, and even Luby's has been closing far more cafeterias than they've been opening (one opened in Cypress c. 2005, so it may not be a lost cause). Unfortunately, I have no photos of Luby's when they were opening and operating, because it was a Luby's, and the Luby's closing took many by surprise. It closed in April 2014 after a few decades of opening by a mystery owner, which turned out to be Café Eccell, after the drama surrounding it at Church and Wellborn Road, which opened in August 2014 after renovating it.

While Café Eccell has updated a bit (mostly by repainting the drive-through end of the restaurant and opening it as the sub-restaurant La Bodega Express, as well as making it share the roadside sign), Luby's is the one with the history behind it. A full page ad had been taken out for its opening, describing the restaurant that didn't have waiters or waitresses.

You'll feel good about Luby's... selection... Everyone likes what they get, because everyone chooses their favorites. Snappy fresh fruits and crisp garden salads. Hot and hearty entrees. Piping hot vegetables. Home baked rolls and breads. And the taste-temptingest selection of homemade desserts you've ever seen.

This was the only Luby's Cafeteria in the area. There was one in the mall that opened in 1996 but it closed after a while (lasting about five years, or less).

Enjoy the pictures I took in and around the restaurant shortly after closing (and after Eccell repainted it from the whiter color it was originally), taken May 2014.


4401 South Texas Avenue

Editor's Note: Updated 2019 to account for a few new things, including La Bodega Express, the Post Oak Mall location, and others.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Circle K Truxtop

Today, a Texaco store stands proudly here

Funny story--I originally had wanted to do this post back in September 2016 (the rewritten version of course, as the "date posted" is from well before that) when Alimentation Couche-Tard buying CST Brands. In layman's terms, Corner Store, the convenience store commonly associated with Valero (though independent since 2013) will be turned into Circle K (which unfortunately recently did away with its classic or at least classic-inspired logo for a new, worse one). With that in mind, I felt it was high time to cover one of the Circle K stores that did grace our fair city before a wave of new Circle K stores come in adjacent to the Valero stores (if not taking them over entirely). This is of course a "rebranded" post originally posted as "Two TETCO Stores" many years ago.

But not to be outdone, there was news some months later that Sunoco, which had bought Stripes a few years back (resulting in new Sunoco gas canopies), was selling its convenience stores out to 7-Eleven, which will hopefully be the boost that puts actual branded 7-Eleven stores in town instead of two TETCO stores, making this post relevant again instead of old dated news.

There is one other TETCO store that used to be covered on this blog, and that would be the one at Harvey Road and Texas Avenue, which has difficult access (parking was never accessible from Culpepper Plaza) and has been operating for years as an Exxon. That one has been operating for years as an Exxon (since the 1980s, though unfortunately I don't have a lot of info on it, it seems like there was more of an emphasis on auto parts), and would eventually go under the Speedy Stop name (but still an Exxon). I believe the SS name has been in place since 2000, as evidence seems to point that the original Exxon was auto repair-oriented but the rebuilt Exxon was not. I don't remember the old Exxon, personally, but I did take two pictures when it was Speedy Stop.

To begin, who remembers UtoteM? It was a small convenience store chain that once had locations all over the area, and we've covered a number of them in this blog before. My records indicate that there was one at the current site of Jin's Asian Cafe (though I currently lack the phone book records for it), one at 301 Patricia, one at the current site of Northpoint Crossing, one at what is now the current site of Checkers there at Holleman and Welsh, one at 105 Walton (that link goes to the main Eastgate page, I've been wanting to separate those into different pages), and one that later became a bus station, and those are the ones actually covered here. (An extant example can be found at the corner of Old College Road and College Main, unless that has closed and I just haven't been aware of that fact yet)

Well, as the page on Walmart currently mentions (as of this writing, these things are in flux all the time), Circle K bought these stores and shut most of the original UtoteM stores down almost immediately afterward. They weren't all bad, though, because UtoteM did construct a few modern stores with pumps just a few years before it sold out. This was one of them.

By the early 1990s, this would be branded as a Circle K "Truxtop".

OK, I cheated: this isn't actually from the Bryan store, it's from Skyline Products but I still imagine the Texaco sign looking sort of like this

As part of a sale in mid-1999, Circle K sold its stores in town to Duke & Long as part of a 142 store deal, which rebranded the stores to Everyday and gave all the stores Conoco gas pumps, but a few years later, Duke & Long filed bankruptcy, and from there, the stores went their separate ways. Many of the stores went to Speedy Stop, which in turn sold a few, like Villa Maria/Cavitt and Longmire/Harvey Mitchell Parkway sold to Handi Stop in the mid-2000s, becoming Diamond Shamrock briefly before switching to Texaco as Valero began to consume the Diamond Shamrock name. Others, like 1600 South College Avenue, went independent (it still holds a Conoco-shaped sign).
Note the oval-shaped sign, that's from Conoco

However, 3401 Texas 21 held onto its Speedy Stop name until it was the only one in town left (along with a second Speedy Stop not related to the Circle K lineage). I don't know if 3401 Texas 21 had a Diamond Shamrock branding in the mid-2000s, I'm 95% sure it did, but it did have Texaco gas by 2007 like the Handi Stop stores (and by that time, the Diamond Shamrock stores were well on their way to being replaced by Valero completely). Despite promises, the TETCO stores have yet to receive full 7-Eleven branding, perhaps when the Stripes deal is closed they will get the leverage to finally push it, as it will expand their holdings to 10 stores (in theory--I can imagine the Holleman Rattlers sold off for being too close and the former Chicks sold off for being too big). It would also put well above Circle K, which would only gain four stores in their deal, all of them east of Texas Avenue and none of them too impressive.

Hopefully this will receive proper 7-Eleven branding soon enough!

But no matter what happens, neither of them will gain the heyday they did back in the 1980s.

3401 Texas Highway 21

Updated June 2017 with focus on Bryan store and new name from "Two TETCO Stores"

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

Anonymous said (August 6, 2016)...
I lived in Newport Condominiums in 1998-99. I lived 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.