Sunday, June 9, 2024

Normandy Square

April 2024 picture by author.
Ever since November 2021 I've adopted a new policy that all new posts going forward would "be demolished or otherwise closed, had tenant changeover, had some significant change themselves, or are part of a larger story." I wanted to model it a bit closer on Columbia Closings. Columbia Closings, however, does occasionally cover defunct apartment complexes and while many crumbling College Station apartments and duplexes still stand, Normandy Square (b. 1965) on 501 Nagle (with addresses up to 509 Nagle) seems to be not long for this world. Their Facebook page (archive) indicates that they were operational for the 2022-2023 season. However, in April 2024, the apartments were boarded up.

Given the transient nature of Facebook, I've attached a few of the pictures from said Facebook page that show the interior of it, as well as a publicity shot from better days. (Note the lack of a big apartment building behind it). There aren't many Google reviews of the complex but they don't seem good.

While it's Northgate, I do like the architecture. It's an improvement from most of the 1970s apartments that crowd Southwest Parkway.

Friday, May 10, 2024

The Current J. Cody's

Picture by author, 02-2024

As I've already somewhat covered Tom's Barbecue both on their College Station location (where you can see a picture of the Bryan location) and their pre-1985 original location (which started out as Barbecue Barn), there's not too much I can say about their 1985-2001 Bryan location at 3610 South College Avenue. They opened a location here in 1985 (built new) and following the closure of the restaurant in April 2001, reopened later in the year as different business J. Cody's Steaks & BBQ and despite its longevity (it has been located in the same place longer than Tom's had), there's not too much to say about it objectively.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Former Cycles Etc.

The building for Insomnia is quite old... (Picture by author, 4/24)
There's a lot of posts about Texas Avenue (74 and counting), but University Drive (not even counting University Drive East) takes a solid second place, and today the focus is on 505 University Drive, not to be confused with 505 University Drive East.

Located just to the east of what is now Aggieland Credit Union, this is currently home to Insomnia Cookies, which opened in 2021.

As usual, I try to focus on what used to be there.

Check out this 1954 advertisement from The Battalion!

The building started out as Student Co-op in 1931 as a bookstore with a radio repair shop inside. In 1944 Ed Garner took it over, added a sporting goods department, expanded the radio repair shop (which now serviced televisions). At some point it was retooled into Garner's Sporting Goods.

In 1972 purchased by Ted Wyatt, renaming to Wyatt's Sporting Goods. Wyatt's Sporting Goods was here until 1988 and had three stores in town at its peak (Culpepper Plaza, Manor East Mall, and here). It was a locally owned store and unrelated to the late Wyatt's Cafeteria.

After the nearly sixty-year old store closed, the next few decades would see it used as a bicycle shop. First was Cycle Spectrum from 1993 to 2002, then Bicycle Station was here from 2002 to 2003, with Cycles Etc. being here from 2003 to 2013 (moving from 104 College Main) and later moved to College Station Business Center in an attempt, I suppose, to get out of the student bicycle business (they closed in 2021). Before they moved I was a frequent shopper of Cycles Etc., but it was annoying that the sidewalk in front of the store was about a foot above the rest of the sidewalk, making it harder to even bring in a bicycle into the shop. (This was one objective improvement of the big University Drive pedestrian improvement re-do, I suppose).

After that it served as a leasing office for The Domain and in 2019, briefly served as Aggieland Phone Repair (already boarded up and for lease before the campus closure in March 2020). After that it became Insomnia Cookies.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Rooster's Bike & Coffee Shop

It's not closed and abandoned, but it did look that way.

With the old University Square post in desperate need of reorganization and having already spun off (the now former) IHOP in addition to the supermarket itself, I wanted to take a look at the restaurant on the northeast corner of the center, 317 College Avenue.

It was built a Bonanza Steakhouse as of 1974 (they ran a few ads) but only operated for a few years. Following it that it was a revolving door of restaurants: W.G. & Company Steaks & Seafood (1976-1977). It was briefly "The Texas Grubstake" (operated less than six months, if it actually did open) and briefly a location of Claim Jumper (one of the few Texas locations). From 1982 to 1985 it was "Hoffbrau Bar & Restaurant", of which I've attached an ad below.

From the 1984 GTE phonebook.
If it was anything in the late 1980s I can't find it. The Cow Hop, a popular Northgate eatery moved here in 1993 and closed in April 1996. (The name was later purchased and reopened in Northgate later that year). A full article on Cow Hop doesn't exist yet but it's mentioned here). From 1996 to 2002 it was Cruz's Crazy Cajun, a Cajun restaurant (renamed to Alicia's at some point with Mexican food added). Thai Taste moved here in 2002 from 4405 College Main though by that time it was in decline and closed in 2005.

Another view of the current building.

In 2007 it reopened as Crazy Cajuns' (not to be confused with Cruz's Crazy Cajun), created by Hurricane Rita evacuees from Lake Charles, Louisiana (this was mentioned in a KBTX article that is no longer available). It moved from its walk-up location in Wellborn at 14841 FM 2154 (indeed, the sign on the building side still read "Wellborn, Texas" up until its closure). While I first went to the location in Wellborn (I don't know what's there now), which included only a large covered area with picnic tables (December 2006 is when I went), this eventually did end up being a favorite of mine, as I went in March 2011 to this location and had a blast, with lots of food for a good price. It was still spicy, and had been in this place since somewhere about 2008-2009. It went through a few changes in ownership, and steadily declined, notably in service first, then food, and health ratings, before finally closing for good in summer 2012. It shut down the same week as Hebert's did (sad time for Cajun food lovers).

While wandering around around the 2012-2013 holidays, I found the canopy had some older names exposed...Alicia's AND Thai Taste!
BCS Bicycles & Repair moved into the space in early 2013 as that part of the shopping center was getting demolished. However, the space was still a restaurant at heart, so in January 2020 the bicycle shop became Rooster's Bike & Coffee Shop (not to be confused with the late Rooster's Country Dinner House). After the obvious hiccups from what happened in 2020, the bicycle shop successfully was able to "change gears".

All of the pictures were taken January 2024 by the author when it was still closed for the reason, hence the desolate appearance. Note that the University Square sign (as of this writing, seen on the University Square page with a permanent link here) is now just a skeleton.