Friday, September 22, 2023

Former FedEx Office

I guess FedEx was finally FedUp with Northgate rents. (Picture by author, April 2020)

One of the reasons why this blog is slow to update is a dearth of resources--older newspapers are generally good for these things, but most of the stuff from The Eagle between the mid-2000s (before they started cracking down on their older stories) and the mid-to-late 1970s (paywalled via is a black hole. Somebody also asked me to look into an older gas station on the outskirts of town, too...and while I wanted to assure them that I haven't forgotten it will still be delayed for a while. (Looking back on the website a lot of it had to do with what season of life I was in, and this currently isn't one of those seasons).

There have been, of course, updates to this site but nothing major, just accounting for closures, openings, errata, and other details. There's some new stuff, like a real photo of the H-E-B Pantry and Shell-ish experience at 425 Texas Avenue South, but nothing big.

Anyway, because of a lack of resources, I don't have a lot of information on this building. It appears it was originally "Rocco's" in 1987, a nightclub (explaining, partially, the large unused concrete pad in front of the building) and Kinko's Copies (Kinko's) starting in 1991, which, partly due to the business model and partly to the needs of Texas A&M University, was open 24 hours a day (this wasn't even the case before 2020, and operated during only during normal working days). In 2004, it was converted to FedEx Kinko's following the acquisition of the company by FedEx, and sometime after 2008, became simply FedEx Office, which it still is least, until the recent news that it will be moving to Tarrow and University Drive East. I'm not exactly sure when the changeover was, it seemed to happen gradually. Over at Columbia Closings, a site similar in scope to this one, theirs converted in mid-2010.

Around early 2022, FedEx packed and moved to 711 University Drive East.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Former Tokyo Steak House

1984 phone book

We're back with a post from the archives which had been mothballed at least for the last few years. From what my current resources have, this building was built in 1966 and the 1969 directory lists "Bank of A & M" (certainly unassociated with the university, as many businesses used the "A&M" name until the early 1990s). From 1977 to 1980, it was "The Last National Bank", which from what I can tell was a chain of bank-themed restaurants back in the 1970s and 1980s.

From 1980 to 1984, it was Tokyo Steak House, which moved from Townshire. Fast forwarding to 1998 (resources are sparse), this was Coldwell Banker (as it is today) but the head realtor was Richard Smith. Cherry Ruffino was associated with Coldwell Banker at an office off of Tarrow, at some point these merged and the Coldwell Banker at 411 Texas Avenue became Cherry Ruffino's.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Last Chevron on the Right

NO, this is not my photo. YES, it has a watermark. Read below.

Over the course of this site, I've written over 250 entries on various businesses and buildings, probably mentioning dozens more defunct operations, and well over ten years later I still find things that surprise me.

When I started this site, I did not have access to a lot of resources and that led to some embarrassing errors, like conflating "Wolfe Nursery" and Wolf Pen Creek into "Wolf Pen Nursery", but eventually learned enough about it to write an entire history about it (as seen on Houston Historic Retail).

However, every once in a while, there's some building that I should know of, but somehow eludes my memory. Such was the case of the original 2307 Texas Avenue...but an even bigger black hole is the gas station above. Like Veronica's (but located even further down, at the intersection of Robert Road and Highway 6), this was torn down for the freeway widening but I'm afraid I don't remember it at all save for a fuzzy memory of seeing the words "BAR-B-QUE" or something similar on the sign...which for years I thought was the Heirloom Gardens site. In some aspects, it makes sense—there was a nearby railroad nearby and it was on the correct side of the road from my usual backseat vantage point.

In the initial version of this post, I incorrectly pegged it as "Clyde's Country" (see the first update below, which has more information on what was eventually correctly identified as a Chevron "Handi-Plus".

The picture above is from Vintage Aerial, which is a bit hard to navigate (and mostly focuses on rural areas) but great at finding older gas stations out in the sticks, plus it helped confirm that there was indeed a swimming pool just off of 290 in Houston. And if you wanted to learn more about Navasota proper (outside of the scope of this site) there's more where that comes from.

UPDATE 01-29-2023: I have been informed via Trevor Yeager on Facebook that this was not Clyde's Country and that Clyde's Country was a "bit closer to College Station on 6" (it was "a small green and white building that sold used truck camper tops"). However, he also mentioned that Navasota Welding Supply was in the building of the gas station above, which was at, according to my resources, 27620 Highway 6 South. After further research, it appears it was a Chevron Handi-Plus (#18) since the mid-1980s at 27320 Highway 6 South and mentioned in this post. It would suggest it was not Exxon and had converted to Chevron like other Gulf stations.
UPDATE 05-20-2023: With the identity of the station confirmed, the post has been re-worked and renamed "Last Chevron on the Right".
UPDATE 10-4-2023: This 1983 shot indicates it was in fact built in the 1980s (changed [1970s] to [1980s]).

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

K-Bob's Steakhouse

This is an ad from K-Bob's Steakhouse back from 1989. Yes, this restaurant building DID start as a chain.
Paolo's Italian Kitchen, which has been here since September 2014 and August 2022, is officially dead*, and thus I figure it would be a good time to cover the story of 809 University Drive East. 809 University Drive East consists of one restaurant in the front (with a silver roof) and office suites behind it (copper roof), and while I can't get a good picture of Paolo's (it is, of course, sunken into the ground) you can catch a picture of Paolo's from our Abuelo's entry here.

The last time I ate at this restaurant was back sometime around the early/mid-2000s when it was T-Bone Jones. It was a good steakhouse while it lasted and it was a pick of my parents for date night. It closed in 2005 for a few reasons, the first reason was that when University Drive East was rebuilt in the late 1990s (six lanes out to the freeway), the construction required a retaining wall to be built, and as a result the restaurant was almost a full floor below the road level with limited visibility and access. The second reason was that with the early 2000s came a new slew of restaurants in the same corridor, with Cheddar's Casual Cafe, Rockfish Grill, Texas Roadhouse, and later the new location of Wings 'N More taking up residence, all with much better visibility and access. Lastly, and probably not an immediate factor of its decline (but compounded problems), but as the restaurant lost popularity, the dining room looked big and empty. There's a reason why restaurants, especially chain ones, try to separate out dining areas...

While 809 University Drive consists of a number of smaller office suites, the building in the front (and the only one with a silver-colored roof as opposed to copper) has been restaurants (suite 100A, though not always used). The most recent one is Paolo's Italian Kitchen, as previously mentioned. Previous tenants of the restaurant portion) included Rooster's Country Dinner House (2012-2013, failed in less than six months), Sodolak's Beefmasters (2010-2012, see our previous post that does briefly mention their attempt here), T-Bone Jones (1994-2005), Armando's Border Grill (1992-1993), Santa Fe Steakhouse (1990-1992), and K-Bob's Steakhouse (1986-1990).

You'll notice there is a gap after T-Bone Jones, it did sit empty for a few years.

I'm not going to list the tenants in the office complex, it's boring and that's probably not what you're here for. Still, it's worth mentioning for the number of other tenants that have used the 809 University Drive East address over the years.

* This made a lot more sense when I wrote this back in early September.