Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Post Oak Mall

Post Oak Mall as how I best remember it, picture by author, 2007

Today, Post Oak Mall is a shadow of its former self, with an increasingly shrinking food court and empty storefronts, or larger storefronts combined, or odds and ends that don't look like they "belong" in a regional mall.

Post Oak Mall opened February 1982, at a time when Houston malls were flourishing, each with multiple department stores, featuring some combination of the popular department stores in the region at the time: J.C. Penney, Joske's, Foley's, Sears, Montgomery Ward, or Lord & Taylor. The stores at Post Oak Mall opened with Dillard's, which was growing fast but had no Houston stores (they would enter Houston with their purchase of Joske's in 1987), Sears (moved from Townshire), Bealls, a small family-owned specialty department store out of Jacksonville, Texas, and Wilson's, a chain of catalog showrooms out of Baton Rouge.

Unfortunately, the mall's history is largely lost, as no online newspaper archives exist past around 1978 (predating the mall) and the ones since are pretty patchy. Additionally, because I lived on the opposite side of town growing up, the mall and other area stores (including Toys R Us at Post Oak Square) were few and far between growing up, but the department store lineage is fairly well-known: Houston-based Foley's opened in 1984 (despite original plans for Joske's to join the mall) with the only two-story store in the mall, and JCPenney (moved from Manor East Mall) in 1985, the latter including some additional stores including Wyatt's Cafeteria (as well as a space for a seventh anchor on the other side). That same year, Service Merchandise acquired and rebranded Wilson's, and that continued until 1999 when Service Merchandise closed (when they closed their first round of stores). This would become a second Dillard's (men's clothing and housewares, while the original store continued to carry women's and children's clothing, though briefly at some point in the late 2000s it carried exclusively women's clothing).

While none of the department stores were as large as their Houston counterparts, with only Foley's exceeding the 100,000 square foot mark, the mall was successful for its time. In 2006, Foley's was rebranded as Macy's through a large rebranding (though the new owners insisted on putting dark lettering on the mall's brown brick), which was unfortunate, as like many other similar department stores across the country, had the lines shoppers liked replaced with cheaper Macy's house brands, and the last vestige of Foley's disappeared in 2011 when the worn parquet flooring was replaced with white tile.

P7110013

 

 



In the late 2010s, two more changes shook the mall's anchors. The Sears, which was a smaller location at 98,533 square feet, had originally been full-line and featured everything that Sears stores had, including Allstate Insurance (which Sears owned until the early 1990s), the catalog department, a garden shop (likely semi-enclosed, no obvious evidence from the outside), flooring departments, house remodeling departments, the credit department, optical, portrait studio, and most everything else. Due to corporate mismanagement, the store eventually shed departments and features, closing for good in November 2018, its store long having been an emaciated corpse. An appliance repair building was built on the other side of Holleman, though it closed a few years before the main Sears did.

Conn's HomePlus signed for part of the store and opened a 40,000 square foot store by fall of 2020, but it did not fill of Sears' space, though still opens into the mall (occupying half of the Sears' entrance on the inside).

The next anchor shakeup would affect Bealls. Bealls was involved in a merger in the late 1980s that would eventually put it as a subsidiary of Houston-based Stage Stores Inc. (with Palais Royal and Stage as sister stores) and for years had operated in both smaller-market malls (like Post Oak Mall, but also Richland Mall and Parkdale Mall, located in Waco and Beaumont, respectively) as well as even smaller towns (in strip centers). In late 2019 it was announced Stage Stores would close the store and convert the store to Gordmans, shortly before announcing to do the same to the rest of the chain (with the remaining stores like those small-town Bealls being kicked to the curb). In March 2020, it did re-open as Gordmans, which only lasted a few weeks before COVID-19 shut down "non-essential businesses". It was a fatal blow to Stage Stores (which had been struggling), and after the mall reopened a few months later, Stage Stores began a store closing sale as the whole chain went out of business.

Finally, the mall was hit with the closure of Macy's in early 2021. It was clear that the Macy's rebranding of the mid-2000s had failed and Macy's was clearing out the smaller-town markets. Like many of the other Macy's closed around this time, Macy's at Post Oak Mall had turned part of its space into "Backstage at Macy's", a store-within-a-store with some off-price items. This space actually felt like a different store but was poorly merchandised (the signage for the departments in this section didn't match up with what was actually sold, and some merchandise was just on tables).

Dillard's (the original building) still has many of its wood paneling from the 1980s (especially the backroom areas, which I unfortunately do not have photos of).
Like Sears, Dillard's carried a broader line of merchandise in the early days. When it opened, it even had a photo studio, too.



JCPenney, despite adding a Sephora (which is now a generic salon) at some point in the 2010s, is rather run-down. The catalog pick-up area (despite continuing to have signage outside was converted to a "jcp" services desk before being ripped out for a luggage area. In better days, I remember getting a "Space Jam" basketball here circa 1996 (pretty sure they still had sporting goods departments) but today, it's kind of depressing, with peeling paint, understaffing, and disheveled displays. JCPenney's short-lived attempt to add a heavy appliances section on the heels of Sears' mass closings was put into place here but I never even saw it staffed, just noticeable with large refrigerators and other items.

The actual mall area has been given a few facelifts over the years. The 1994 re-do added new tile (based on this 2012 picture from the mall's website, the old tile was covered up) and some new neon around the skylights. In the late 2000s the skylights were replaced with new windows that let in more natural light rather than slightly tinted (see an example of the older skylights here on my Flickr account, and the mall was renovated completely a few years later (2012), mostly giving the mall new flooring and seating areas, as well as altering the mall entrances.

This post received a major update in December 2019. Also see: Post Oak Mall Stores, 1982-1992 and Post Oak Mall Stores, 1992-2002.

Additional pages of this type coming soon.

Obviously, this is not the mall's official page but this is.
UPDATE 01-20-2022: Added 1992-2002 stores link as well as adding a few labels to the main post for some of the chain stores it had over the years that are also covered here, mainly Sonic, McDonald's, and Subway.
UPDATE 03-01-2021: Updates made regarding the fate of Sears, Bealls, and Macy's.
UPDATE 03-25-2021: Minor changes and error fixing. Mervyn's wasn't in Houston in 1982, for instance.
UPDATE 09-22-2021: Minor fixes regarding JCPenney and Foley's opening. Updated a bit regarding Conn's, Sephora, and added back the "Ghost Anchor" mention. Added the mall's website too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chicken Express, Downtown Bryan

The Chicken Express here didn't look much different from the Burger King it replaced (you can see that picture on Yelp). This picture is from August 2019 by the author.

The Chicken Express at the corner of South Texas Avenue and East 29th Street is rather pedestrian, and probably would not have been covered had it not had a previous tenant that had fond memories for me. As a kid living and growing up in College Station (this was originally named "College Station Roads & Retail", after all), going to downtown Bryan was a fairly rare occurrence. Of these trips, most of them were to the downtown Greyhound bus station where relatives would often come down by bus (Waco or Houston), including cousins and my grandfather. This is why Chicken Express is covered, is because of that bus station (located at 405 East 29th Street).

Granted, it was dirty and run-down especially by the late 1990s and early 2000s, and I've been told the building started out as a UtoteM (and that may have had Amoco gas, from what I've heard) and became a bus station by 1980. I don't think it was remodeled much at all between tenants, and it had a drop ceiling, florescent lighting, really worn tiles, possibly dated from 1960s to 1970s, some rather drab and cheap-looking chairs, and the like. There were a few vending machines, including some candy dispensers and (if I remember right) even a coffee vending machine. While it was a miserable place that seemed to be falling apart, it had charm (though I'm sure I'm the only one that thinks that) as a wonderfully grungy place that was a gritty time capsule of the 1980s.

After it was torn down in the late 2000s, the replacement of the store was a Burger King with the address of 401 South Texas Avenue (ironically, despite the new Texas Avenue address, the site was rebuilt to not allow access to Texas Avenue), part of a proposed bunch of new stores as part of a new franchisee. The new Burger King opened around April 2009 and closed in January 2011 (but not reopening). Reason was probably because B-CS just isn't a Burger King town (the one at Texas and Deacon seems to get pretty low volume). It reopened as a Chicken Express some months later (2012 I believe) which did little to the restaurant except give it red trim instead of blue (and serve an entirely different menu under new ownership and a new name, of course).

The redevelopment into Chicken Express also demolished a building (built as a house, though it likely was no longer serving as residential by the time it was torn down) at the corner of 29th and South Houston Avenue. This may be researched in a further update.

Updated in July 2020 to further expunge the original "downtown Bryan memory" format

Friday, September 30, 2011

[Side Stories] Just Train Crazy

Sometime in late 2005 and early 2006, George Bush Presidential Library, and by extension, the entire town, was wrapped up in a massive railroad exhibit.

"Trains: Tracks of the Iron Horse" opened in November 2005 in the Special Exhibits section of the George Bush Library. But unlike other special exhibits, it was wrapped up in an entire event that involved the city and Union Pacific itself. Union Pacific is the company that runs the railroad tracks in town (except for the ones in far south Brazos County--that's BNSF), having acquired them from Southern Pacific (I think) in 1996.

And regardless of being a railroad town in name only--the trains quit stopping here officially in 1995, and by the time this happened, Callaway Villas had poured concrete over where the Amtrak station once was, leaving only an overgrown platform (that's progress, I guess).

But Tracks of the Iron Horse was impressive, and kicked off numerous things in town.


#1: If you had money to spend, there was a train ride in the brand new George Bush 4141 (a specially painted Union Pacific train) to Dallas. Yes, the luxury of going in a real train from College Station (where trains only stop under unusual circumstances) to Dallas would cost you: $250 a person and up! (link)

It's likely it went on the same route up to Dallas via Corsicana. Because of the Villa Maria underpass construction at the time, and a change in the way the tracks crossed downtown, the train didn't parallel Finfeather.

#2: After the train ride, a special spur was built near the pedestrian overpass that housed the 4141. She's a beauty, and in the time since, I've seen it several times. I once got in an argument on Flickr that I had just seen it in town when the other person claimed it was in the storage yards. So obviously one of us was mistaken, or UP made multiple 4141s.

#3: Local businesses and other institutes bought fiberglass trains for $2500 to paint. I have a full brochure (it's on Project HOLD somewhere) that details the exhibit and also the train details, but here's the list. I saw the "Hot-N-Ready Express" the most often, but there were many others. In 2006 they were auctioned off, though there are still a few hanging around town.

#4: There was a talk done by the Union Pacific President and Former President George H.W. Bush, which I went to. And I talked to former President George H.W. Bush, which was amazing.

#5: There was a giant model train in the rotunda of the museum.

#6: The exhibit featured a "timeline" of how various railroad companies were eaten up to become an oligopoly industry today.

All in all, it was a fantastic exhibit and a fantastic era (if short) of the city, and one of the highlights of the year 2005. I had liked that year so much in particular that last summer on the now-defunct Two Way Roads, I dedicated an entire summer to The Spirit of 2005. Two Way Roads, of course, is defunct and often has terrible writing, but CSR&R is a spin-off of it, and thus some credit has to be given.

In the future, I may update this post with pictures of the glossy book that was handed out during that time (it's paperback and essentially a giant advertisement for UP, but it's just that cool).

EDIT 3/20/12: A better link for those train statues.

May 2013 Update: Side Stories

Monday, September 26, 2011

Foxhole Lounge

The red, white, and blue paint was probably more vibrant back in the day. (Picture by author, September 2019)


A while back, I used to have a post called "Stories of the West Loop", half actually describing some of the things on 2818 I was too lazy to write a full post on, and half a piece on the nostalgia I had for going north on 2818 to my grandfather's place in Waco. During streamlining, it was removed but an older post, originally called "Turkey Creek: The Old FM" remained.

When I was a kid, there was basically a "border" of places we did and didn't go in town. I'm not talking about anything based on socioeconomic lines or city limits, it was the places that were not part of the regular rotation (dentists, doctors, grocery stores, churches). Roughly the southern line of this was Rock Prairie Road (not that there was much beyond it, even in the late 1990s and early 2000s), the eastern line was the freeway and the things bordering it, to the west, FM 2818 (and FM 2154 at the crossing), and to the north, Villa Maria Road.

Naturally, any venturing north of Villa Maria was a rare occurrence. First would be the actual Villa Maria intersection, which had an Exxon built in the late 1990s with a Shell on the east side, hidden by the trees. The stoplights around the year 2000 had what a lot of other Bryan stoplights had, as the technology wasn't there yet to only show up when you got close to the light, louver shades on the lights. To the north of the Villa Maria light was a divided highway (2818 remained divided until north of 21), and had blinking lights at Turkey Creek Road, which was the north end of Turkey Creek. The south end of Turkey Creek Road closer to F&B Road was (then), a small, poorly paved road heading out to the airport. From what I had found in old maps, Turkey Creek Road (prior to most of 2818's construction) was FM 2513, but the designation disappeared many years ago.

While some trips north on 2818 remained as family still lived in the Waco area, many things about the road changed. The Turkey Creek lights were removed in early 2012 in part due to the extensive construction around the intersection that would eventually include an overpass over Villa Maria and replace the Texas Hall of Fame dance hall structure with a huge Walmart, a stoplight at Shiloh Avenue and the extension of Beck Street, and many others.

Of these, one thing never really changed, the Foxhole Lounge. Also known as Brazos County VFW Post 4692, Post 4692 was established in 1945 but did not move into their current location until 1975, and the events hall has not had much alterations since, at least exterior-wise.

The day this signage is replaced will be a sad one. (Picture by author, September 2019)

UPDATE 05-07-2021: The article was completely re-done in September 2019 but I wanted to mention the address is 794 N. Harvey Mitchell Parkway.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

[Side Stories] George Bush Presidential Library and Museum: The First Ten Years

Yes, IA&ABV is alive after all: I'm not going to leave you hanging (that's a tactic of other blogs/websites I know), so here's another post.

To be honest, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, whether or not you are a Republican or have even a semblance of respect for G. H. W., is a profound achievement of College Station and the greater area.

I don't really have a bunch of pictures on the Library, I just have a map (as seen below) and eggs. Easter eggs, that is, and we'll get to those later (eventually).



The 2007 renovation changed a lot of things for the worst, but here are some of the general (and specific) memories I have:

- Security was amped up a lot after 9/11. There were hidden cameras everywhere, but it wasn't until post-9/11 that a permanent bag check was established near the entrance. Prior to that it was just a nice open area where you could probably find a corner to curl up next to an air conditioning vent (I know I did).

- The Ansary Gallery of American History is a temporary exhibit gallery. Over the years (prior to 2007), there was a general 1960s Americana thing: I specifically remember a tiny putting range (that you could use!) and an old Wheaties box. That was the first temporary exhibit, and over the years, it included so many things that they're largely forgettable. One of the things I remember was the "Miniature White House", in which you just looped around the giant (and detailed) dollhouse and went back out again. Another one was about trains, but I'll talk about that in a bit.

- There was a holographic baseball in "The Family, The Man" section, but it was several years until I was tall enough to see it on my own. Still, it was really neat, but it was removed with the renovation (holographic images were really popular in the late 1990s)

- The World War II area actually never changed over the renovation, which I like. There's a film on George Bush getting shot down and rescued later, and also a metal platform with information on some WWII planes (including the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb)

- There was also a wall of television screens, which screamed "1990s" and was taken out after the renovation.

- "The Overlook" originally had nothing, it was turned into a (rather tacky) quasi-museum area after the remodel.

- "Air Force One" was a neat exhibit, it was styled to look like an airplane cockpit, complete with the sound of pressurized air. You could buckle up in one of the seats, but the buckles were removed in the late 1990s and remained that way until just a few years prior to the renovation.

- There was a Berlin Wall exhibit, which I honestly forgot is still there or not. It used to have several black and white pictures and a color monitor. Most notably, it had a chunk of the Berlin Wall, with graffiti on one side, and nothing but concrete on the other.

- "The Gulf War" exhibit was later de-rided in its later years for being a bunch of chintzy lights, but I tell you, it was something really neat. There was a huge 3D (at an angle) map of the Middle East, with LEDs going off as a video was telling you was telling you about the Gulf War. The lights indicated troop movements, bombing raids on Iraq as a bunch of rapidly flickering lights (then fading), missle movements, and little red lights indicating where Saddam set the oil on fire as he was leaving Kuwait. Lights would flash overhead when the missles hit (such as the Scuds being aimed at Israel). It gave me chills watching it every time, and back in that era, Saddam was still at large post-Kuwait. The exhibit that replaced it really is pathetic compared to what it once was.

- Toward the end, there were machines (I think they're still there, but they cost extra...I think) where you could input your name and pick a number of pre-selected questions to get a "letter from the President". The novelty wore off quickly. Also toward the end was tourist information. I always picked up this digest-sized "dining guide" that had menus of restaurants all over town (including but not limited to the late Deluxe Diner).

- There was a time in 2nd grade where we were taking a tour and saw Barbara Bush walking her dogs. We thought we were so lucky because the other class missed it, but then another class got their picture with her. :/

- One of the best times during the pre-remodeling was the 2005 train exhibit...but I've decided to save that for another time, as it really is a story in itself.

- I don't know if it's still there, but there was a "Millie's Activity" thing where there were doghouses periodically that had questions for kids. I think there were two levels, one for beginners and one more advanced.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Former Village Foods

Village Foods back in the AppleTree days. (Picture from Holcombe of Hidalgo, used with permission)

When this post originally went up back in September 2011, it was a look at a former AppleTree that converted to something completely different...and that "former AppleTree" was a Safeway that was one of the last (if not THE last) in the Safeway Houston division. It might have even opened after the division spun off but before the name change. I really don't know. There was a brief time when the stores were advertised as Safeway, but were "locally owned", probably due to a lingering licensing deal to use the name from Safeway.

AppleTree started out with nearly 100 stores from Waco to Rosenberg, but the crippling debt resulting from the buyout forced the company into bankruptcy in 1992 and sold off its stores in late 1993. For whatever reason, six stores were purchased back and remained as AppleTree stores.

The Briarcrest store was one of these, and it was bought as part of the last six by Tony Kubicek, who bought the name and operations of the stores, with the possibility of even expanding at some point. Unfortunately, this never happened, and AppleTree started to shed stores again. By 1999, only three remained, all in Bryan-College Station. After the closure of Culpepper Plaza's store, it went down to 2. This AppleTree held its own, even having features that no other grocery store did (like making its own sausage), though despite being laden with AppleTree logos and having many of the same employees since the Safeway days (and still does) wasn't like the old AppleTree company (it was unionized, for one).

It's unknown to what exactly went on with AppleTree corporate, but in 2008, the supermarket was sold after Kubicek wanted a lower rate on rent. His landlord ended up buying the store instead, and Jim Lewis, the landlord-turned-owner, decided to make it his own. While the actual change of hands occurred in 2008, there was a "Grand Opening" in March 2009 (I've never been able to find out if the store closed for a reset, but from all I've heard, there wasn't). Around this time, the store updated its dated 1980s department graphics to new Benjamin Knox paintings, and revised the merchandise selection to include more organic (and later gluten-free) items, as well as local items.

VF heavily relied on the "local" schtick considering that the area had lacked a real "local" supermarket since the closure of independent Food Town (not related to the Houston chain) located at 600 North Main in the early 1990s (it was open in 1991, but not too much longer afterward), and the fact that no other supermarket really focused on natural and organics food like they did (gluten free wasn't as trendy when it opened). Already problems were apparent, though, as the mix didn't reciprocate well with everybody. One of the misconceptions that the store had to overcome was that it was some sort of Whole Foods knock-off, which it wasn't, and actually scared off a few loyal customers who (wrongly) believed the prices had shot up, while anyone expecting some sort of Whole Foods-type experience (or even a Sprouts-type experience) would be extremely disappointed.

For a time the original post here went down from the website due to a "conflict of interest" in summer 2013 (guess why?) and then it went back up again with a new selection of photos. For an inside look at Village Foods (including the photos that used to be here), check out the post at the Safeway & Albertsons in Texas Blog.

In 2015, it was announced that an Aldi would join the grocery mix in the area at an undisclosed place in Bryan. Some hypothesized perhaps the underserved west part of town, but instead would be at the corner of 29th and Briarcrest...the site of Village Foods! In December the store announced officially it would close in early February.

People have said that Village Foods collapsed due to competition, but despite being between a huge H-E-B and a huge Walmart Supercenter, I don't think that tells a full story. After all, this store has outlasted the bigger and nicer store at the other end of 29th (that would be Albertsons, formerly a Randalls) as well as the supermarket in between (Winn-Dixie). Heck, it even managed to ultimately outlast the Walmart Neighborhood Market off of Texas Avenue.

There were a number of factors that worked against Village Foods. In 2013, Briarcrest was plagued with construction, which ended up sealing off the main entrance of the store permanently. The remaining "other" entrance from Briarcrest was a bit awkward to turn in and out of since it was shared with the nearby Galleria Village office tower, with the other entrance being a side entrance off of 29th Street. The high school brought riff-raff and fighting into the parking lot.

Their product mix featuring organic, gluten free, and health foods began to become less important as H-E-B and even Walmart to an extent began featuring those types of items. Combined with the already-rough competition with a Walmart Supercenter half a mile to the east, a large H-E-B a mile to the west, and the addition of a Walmart Neighborhood Market within a two mile radius, it was a surprise that Village Foods was able to survive much at all.

Since Village Foods is dead and gone now (and no, despite the presence of Lewis' new Village Foods & Pharmacy at Broadmoor and 29th, for all intents Village Foods as we knew it is gone), I'd like to share a few stories regarding this store.

There are some things that I didn't like about Village Foods, but we won't discuss that (we're here to celebrate its life!)

The store was pitifully low-volume in the last few years of its life, but the upshot of that was that it was never jam-packed like H-E-B is, even during peak times (plus it was vastly overstaffed in the front end). It was still the best place to order more obscure food items, as well. They ordered Cel-Ray for me in late 2012 when I requested it, and it even carried it up until Village Foods closed down in February 2016. I won't forget that sort of service.

The rotisserie chicken was also quite good and was surrounded by delicious pectin (it always smelled great when it was being bagged). Juicy yet not greasy like so many other roti chickens are (I'm looking at you, H-E-B), I'm afraid I'll never have anything quite like it again. If I recall, the chicken did use orange juice as one of its ingredients in preparation.

Since day one, the store had a luncheon area, which for many years created its own in-house pizza (reports are that while unremarkable, it was decent). Soon after the demise of Stover Boys at Westgate Center, Charles Stover was brought on to manage the luncheon and deli area, which was merged into "Stover Bros. Café".

I only went to the pre-Stover deli once--it originally offered "Blue Plate Specials", which were things like lasagna, but Stover soon expanded the menu to include gourmet hamburgers and fries (carryovers from Stover Boys) but unfortunately wasn't able to use/brand everything due to complications from the Stover Boys bankruptcy. Stover changed some things in the deli, including vastly expanding the deli meats and cheeses to the standards of other supermarkets (I remember the part that originally faced the front of the store, which now has Boar's Head deli meats, originally had things like chips, including a brand of tortilla chip I enjoyed). While much of the traffic from Stover Boys was gone except for a small band of loyalists, Stover Brothers eventually built up a new following, enough to talk about expanding the seating (which they never ultimately did do). While Stover was free to build his menu from the stock "burgers and fries" to include more gourmet burgers and unique sliders (and we aren't talking the Krystal/White Castle fast food variety, although neither are in the area), there were some things left by the wayside: the milkshake sales went way down, so their homemade Mexican Vanilla ice cream was replaced with stock Blue Bell "Homemade Vanilla". Also killed was the "White Trash Donut" (later rebranded to "Southern Fried Doughnut"), which was amazing but hard to make (and really bad for you, but that's beside the point). Since the donuts are no longer available, you'll have to do with this description of them. See some early menus and stuff by visiting Yelp. Also, despite Stover's departed presence, many items remained permanently changed, like the potato salad.

2013 did bring the temporary addition of Hebert's Cajun Food, having been evicted of their shack at University Square, and briefly operated out of the "Southern Comfort Road Trip" food truck Village Foods had. There were plans to run it out of a food truck but the last update was close to two years ago. As far as I can tell, Hebert's Cajun Foods is gone gone (though rumors are once again abounding of its return).

Now that we're done with Village Foods, what happened next? Over 2016, the building was slightly altered, including removing the peaked roof for what would be the Urban Air Trampoline Park, but also adding ALDI to the eastern third of the ~50,000 square feet building (on the left side if you were looking at it head-on), though it completely gutted the building, down to removing even the concrete floor (I went inside the building during construction, until a contractor chased me out for not wearing closed-toed shoes). The only thing really left is the columns, and despite ALDI's fairly bare-bones nature, it is much cheaper and much nicer than Village Foods ever was. Perhaps it will eventually become grody and run-down, but for now, it's a clean, nice store. Urban Air opened over a year later in January 2018 with the new 1758 address. The upper level of Village Foods is partially used for party rooms, but it's been gutted. You can see the remains of the break room on the floor and there's a second staircase where the restrooms were, roughly.

1758-1760 Briarcrest

Last updated February 2019

Monday, August 29, 2011

Comm. Building Permits College Station in the Late 1980s


This is removed from the Index and only serves as a resource to what links here.

We rarely get stuff this neat: this is a list of commercial buildings for the late 1980s (taken from a city-produced master plan guide from circa 1990).

No idea where the other 1985 permits except for Scott & White, and that's probably the older building on University, and the Hampton Inn...which is probably the one next to Applebee's. It's likely the Theatre is the Brazos Fellowship building (it was a three-screen theater off of Southwest Parkway), but I can't know for sure. I do know where Aggieland Printing was, up until about 2001, it was located in a little maroon building right about where the water tower driveway is.

The 1986 permits include 7-11 (which replaced a gas station-turned-bar), but it's not a 7-11 anymore, which is a shame: I do enjoy Slurpees, and ICEEs (found at a few gas stations in town, and Target) aren't the same, as they mix syrup and ice, while Slurpees is frozen syrup continually blended (it's true).

Kentucky Fried Chicken is probably the one at Southwest Parkway and Texas, renovated a few years ago.

Whataburger is almost certainly the one on Dominik, which places it as being relatively new before a fire gutted it in the early 1990s (it has since been repaired).

Mazzio's I have unpleasant memories of, it's where Harvey Washbanger's is. The change-over happened in the late 1990s.

1987 brought Putt-Putt Golf (which closed about five years ago or so, dying as "Brazos Valley Golf and Games"), an "Exxon Shop", which I'm guessing is modern-day Franky's (or the Valero on Holleman, or even the Highway 30 ones), and Wal-Mart, which secured its permit that year and was up and running by 1988. I don't know about the go cart track, however...it wasn't Pooh's Park, which was on its way out by that time.

1988 brought Loupot's (probably the Southgate location), Taco Cabana (near Barnes & Noble), Circle K (which is where Texaco is, near Walmart, a funny story on that one, we'll discuss it later), CC Creations (moved), Shamrock (Diamond Shamrock?).

1989 brought "Nancy's Cookies", "Jud's", and "Western Auto". Western Auto is probably the current Advance Auto Parts on Harvey, which is what all Western Autos are now.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Southgate Chevron

I snapped this picture from the bus, taken sometime around 2013. The Reveille's sign can't be seen.

The defunct Southgate Chevron has been operating since the 1960s as the Southside Gulf Service, and converted to a convenience store (Reveille's) sometime around the late 1980s (that's what Brazos CAD suggests) with the Chevron name being bestowed in the early 1990s due to a merger. In 2011, I got the below picture that shows the Gulf station and the surrounding area (due to the city reorganizing the Project HOLD server from which I got it from, I can't find the original link and who that is) circa 1985.


Click for larger size/higher resolution.


It's great seeing the George Bush (er, Jersey) stoplight as it was...the "old style" of College Station stoplights (before they were all replaced or upgraded), complete with the old railroad crossing (a cantilever railroad crossing...but where's the crossing gate?), and all those trees, too: this must have been before Olsen Field, and a time when you could probably still see the I-GN right of way on both sides.

I found this picture as well, which appears to be the station in question, from an even earlier time.

Later on, it updated once to the newer 2005 design (didn't roll out fully until the late 2000s), and has always been Reveille's (convenience store) at least since the mid-1990s (if not further back).

In early 2017, it was de-branded as "K.D. Timmons Co. Inc." (a local fuel supplier, though it kept the Chevron colors), and by July 2018 permanently closed, presumably as part of the George Bush underpass project.

UPDATE 2-25-19: Rewrite incorporating 2018 update, new title

300 George Bush Drive

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Campus Theater



A much, much, better version of this 1989 shot is found here. This version is from TexasEscapes.



The Campus Theater opened in Northgate in 1940, on the corner of Boyett and University at what is currently 217 University Drive. It was the first theater in College Station, and ended up lasting a very long time. Done in an art deco style and with a single screen (it had a balcony and cry room, too!), it survived sometime into the mid to late 1980s as competition forced it out of business (or maybe the Schulmans, which owned and built it, closed it in '85, along with their theaters in downtown Bryan. Makes sense in the timeline).

After the theater began to deteriorate, around 1995 it finally reopened as Shadow Canyon, which soon after gave it a dreadful makeover by covering over much of the building in wood to give it a country-western theme, and that's been the type of tenant of it's been ever since. Shadow Canyon did well initially, but it faltered (according to a now-dead Battalion link, they had started charging a cover and used gimmicks like wet t-shirt contests to gain attendance).
From this article, it officially closed in December 2004 though it played host to the Northgate Music Festival in early 2005.


Next up was Midnight Rodeo, which still has locations in San Antonio and Amarillo (an Austin location has closed since 2013). But the College Station location did not last nearly as long as Shadow Canyon, as it opened in early 2006 and closed by summer 2007 (it was supposed to be a five year lease, and a number of other dance halls owned by the same company closed around the time, such as one at the Katy Mills mall in the Houston area).

Daisy Duke's (country western) opened in early 2009 which was a country-western dance hall. As you can see from a Panaramio picture below, it's obviously the same building from above, but horrible things have been done to it (sorry I lack a better picture).


From Panoramio user "rahulatiitd". Note the "YON" barely visible from Shadow Canyon's old signage.


So the building was clearly mauled, but it got worse. In spring 2013, Daisy Dukes took advantage of the upper level the original building had and opened rooftop seating right above the marquee, with seating and televisions. This was not only ugly but also raised the question if the circa 1940 roof clearly not designed to support tons of people would collapse one day (then again, these sorts of things were done with all sorts of redundancies). By November, it was renamed to Duke's, and by summer 2014 changed hands to The Tap's owners. Prior to this time, there was a lot of drama with the Dallis family including squatting in the Café Eccell building, DUI arrests, and the fact that a former manager of DD's (and an estranged brother, at least publicly) was arrested for something more major, and while initially The Tap talked about the space becoming "No Name Saloon" (which was just a temporary name and never actually on the marquee, the closest to that being when they were changing signs). In the end it just remained a dance hall with a trashy reputation (and by fall 2014 it had officially become Boulevard 217).

Boulevard 217 closed after fall of 2015 and another dance hall, Shiner Park, opened for fall 2016. With the exceptions of the upper level area created in 2013, all of the incarnations have barely changed anything exterior-wise, and the longest lived bar here post-theater was Shadow Canyon, which also was the only one who put real work into the building.

Perhaps after Shiner Park bites it, there could be something else that restores the facade of the Campus Theater's facade, and even if it still remains a nightclub, could be something that the Northgate area could look forward to.

Rewritten June 2020 to account for new bar, weeding out old links.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ramada Aggieland Inn

This paint job was never used for an operational hotel.

Opening in summer 1974 as the Aggieland Inn (named after a long-defunct hotel on campus, which had long been functionally replaced by the MSC and gone for many years), this hotel was initially successful with its restaurant ("Whistle Stop") but in the mid-1980s renamed to Aggieland Hotel. After (or around the time) Ramada pulled its name from a bankrupt hotel down the road, the it was renamed Ramada Aggieland Hotel, then Ramada Inn (which it was for years), then simply "Ramada" (due to rebranding). In 2010, the owners of the Ramada name, Wyndham Worldwide, built a new Ramada near the corner of University Drive East and Earl Rudder Freeway, and the name of this hotel changed to Aggieland Inn.

Football program, 1988-1989


Even before losing the name, the Ramada had been going on a downhill trend for years, there's a story about how the restaurant (by this time, having long dropped the Whistle Stop name and advertising outside of hotel guests) accidentally(?) gave food poisoning to the Longhorn football team circa '99, and other minor stories of what happened there. Moving the Ramada to the highway was surely planned a few years before, and in late 2007, an ambitious plan was announced to turn the Ramada into upscale student housing. The late AbouTown Press covered this in December 2007, which you can see the scans of below (click for higher resolution).




As Aggieland Inn, as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, the hotel got miserable reviews. The hotel shut down in September 2011 (KBTX's link was down, this was before I learned to archive links) just prior to football season. In 2013, it got a repaint and was rumored to reopen for the fall, but it never did. Here's a Google Maps 45° view of the hotel before the repaint.

The restaurant/lobby/banquet hall building is about the size of the hotel itself.

In addition to the new photo at the top of the page, in April 2015, I made a visit to snap some more pictures. However, there were lots of No Trespassing signs in the area, and I wasn't going to get arrested for some semi-defunct blog I was just updating, so here's one more shot of the hotel (I didn't get too close to the lobby part, unfortunately).

It almost looks decent...


The redevelopment around 2015-2016 essentially split the property into two parts. The hotel itself got a big renovation inside and out, with the pool out front demolished for a new lobby, and the peaked roof removed for a new hotel, TRYP by Wyndham. The hotel (with a new address of 1508 Texas Avenue S.) eventually opened in November 2017.

The lobby and restaurant space of the old Aggieland Inn was gutted and became a strip mall.

Picture from August 2019.

Suite 100 was Urban Bricks Pizza Co., which opened May 2017, closed in early 2019, reopened later that year, and closed for good in February 2020. Wayback Burgers opened September 2016 but closed December 2018. The others are Fancy Nails & Spa (Ste. 300), Ye Star Chinese Buffet (Ste. 400), and SignatureCare Emergency Center. The privately owned emergency room opened first in 2016. Ye Star and Fancy Nails I believe opened in 2017.

UPDATE 03-12-2022: As of March 2022, the hotel is now known as "Aggieland Boutique Hotel" (who knows if TRYP quietly closed for a time). Also, Suite 200, the former Wayback Burgers, reopened in early 2021 as "Smokerz Paradize".

Friday, April 15, 2011

Around Tejas Center

May 19, 2012 Note: This will remain until I get the new post about Manor East Mall up.

New storefront colors


To the left of Jo-Ann, the former JCPenney



There's a cinder-blocked entrance here. Don't worry, it's much easier to see in real life.



Back of old Wal-Mart



This is the current The Theater Company. Not much activity here now.



Former JCPenney interior entrance.



Looking back toward Montgomery Ward. You can see the old E-W corridor roofs, which have been renovated into in-line space. On my only trip to Manor East in 2000, this area was closed off, and there was a bench right about in front of me.


Settling with our new name and focus, I'll be steadily adjusting some of the older posts (and getting rid of the index page) to fit the new feel of the site. I might change the background picture too, to something more Texan. Anyway, I drove around Tejas Center on April 7, and took these pictures.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Parkway Square

The Kroger's facade was once dated but at least looked okay as compared to this disaster.

This was one of the first posts on the blog, and has of course gone through numerous updates and rewrites (a rather extensive one in 2013 with updates in 2014). The post originally started out with a post back on the HAIF many years ago when I was young and relatively naïve. Parkway Square holds a good bit of nostalgia for me (of course) and by this point, most of the buildings around it have been covered, something not even conceived when the post was originally made: Red Line Burgers across the street, Fort Shiloh, Manor House Inn, and Shipley Do-Nuts.


Construction on Parkway Square seems to have taken a long time, it opened in 1982 (from what I've heard from DrFood, and confirmed by KBTX, but I also wonder if this is one of those "self-confirming things" where KBTX just "researched" it here) but construction was announced in 1979. Part of the problem must have the drainage, as the parking lot is built out of numerous concrete "squares" sitting on top of a drainage area. In 2016, the center was updated, giving the Kroger a repaint to make it look miles nicer after an unfortunate stucco disaster, as well as giving a new roadside sign, replacing its dated early 1980s signage with something that is bland but at least modern. This lasted a matter of months.


Aerial of shopping center being built, from Project HOLD

Growing up in the 1990s in College Station was a time when there was a wide variety of supermarkets, where there was an H-E-B Pantry, two Albertsons stores, a Kroger, an AppleTree, and prior to around 1997, a Winn-Dixie and a Randalls. Of course, none of that mattered if you only went to two. For me, those were the H-E-B Pantry at Holleman and Texas Avenue (now a DSW) and the Kroger.

H-E-B Pantry of course was nice and homey, but it was Kroger that was the cooler, better one (even if it was older), and that was the anchor that was always there at Parkway Square, so I'd like to share a few words about it. It was a classic "Greenhouse" Kroger with "bauhaus" lettering if I recall correctly (there are lots of Flickr pictures related to that and what they mean), there was a red stripe running the perimeter of the store, the deli/bakery area (it was a small, combined department, and still is) had some seating near the entrance to the video department (more on that later), and the entrances and exits were very small and simple. One door in, one door out, operating by spring-loaded carpets. This was at the far right end of the store (that is, if you were looking at it from Texas Avenue). They had large arrows on them.

But enough on Kroger for now, we'll discuss that red stripe and all in a second. To maintain compatibility with the Texas Avenue directory I made, I'll have to start from the Firestone at the corner, which I'm not sure is actually part of the shopping center.

2400 - Firestone is on the corner at Brentwood and Texas Avenue. It renovated sometime in the mid-2000s or so, but about the time it happened, we had quit going there (it was once the "go-to" spot for car fixes for my family--until a management change). It appears it is the original tenant, as it was listed in the 1984 phone book.

2402D - The combined 2402 space (all tenants) is taken by "China King Buffet". This used to be Old Country Buffet, which I never liked, even before I stopped liking (and started hating) Golden Corral. I think it closed circa 2004, along with others in the state. It later became China King Buffet by the mid-2000s, which I remember eating at once. It was bland, and seemed overly large for the space, but I don't remember getting sick from it, which is probably why it has still stayed in business without any name changes (it did "renovate" once though). It remains open as of July 2016, though the recent renovation took away its distinctive "peak" shaped storefront from the OCB days. I might have a picture somewhere, I should add that in a future update. I actually think this was originally a Chinese restaurant originally...there was originally one "B B's Chinese Restaurant" in the early 1980s, though sharing the address of Firestone (which did exist at the time and was new) instead of its modern address, 2402-D.

2404 - RAC Rent-a-Center has been here for the last several years. It absorbed old space from other retailers, like Paradise Scuba, which was located at 2404C prior to moving to the old Putt-Putt site in 2008. At 2404B, there was Champion Firearms, which moved out around 2003 when the new center with Hobby Lobby and Ross Dress for Less was built.

2406A - Resale & More is here and has been here since at least around 2009. I don't remember what was here before it.

2406B - Jackson Hewitt moved here after 2008, it used to be closer to the Southwest Parkway side, but it has since moved on. (I don't know exactly when, probably late 2010s).

2406D - USA Nails I believe has been here for a long time, possibly changing its name from another nail salon.

2408 - The original 2408 (please ignore the typo on the official PDF) was a TG&Y Family Center.

It was a larger version of the TG&Y five-and-tens (basically, a discount store, which almost every five-and-ten did). It's worth noting that the parent company of TG&Y sold out in October 1985 (same time as this ad), so I'm guessing TG&Y didn't last much longer here.


After the closure of TG&Y, it (eventually) became Gold's Gym and Amber's, an arts & crafts store based out of Dallas. The Amber's opened in 1988 when it moved from Post Oak Square, and after Amber's closed (it closed a few years after most of the other stores in the chain, lasting well into 1996), it became MJDesigns before they too went bankrupt, at which point it became Stein Mart. After Gold's moved in the early 2000s, it became King Dollar (opened 2003) and Harbor Freight Tools (opened 2004). For years, Harbor Freight took 2408A, King Dollar next door took 2408D, and Stein Mart took 2408B.

Stein Mart unfortunately went bankrupt in 2020 and closed all of its stores.

2410 - Initially a location of "Chuck-E-Cheese Pizza Time Theatre" (as the chain was called), which was gone by 1989, with the area not getting another Chuck E. Cheese until the year 2005. That means, of course, that growing up, I never got to have any birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese because it didn't exist in my town, but that also means I was spared any childhood trauma from the animatronics.

After that it became one of the more intriguing concepts in the history of Kroger supermarkets that I've never seen anywhere else...an attached video store called Family Center Video, though admittedly the set-up was pretty useless. Because of the differences in elevation between Kroger and the video store, about three feet, there were stairs and a ramp (it may or may not have been ADA compliant, at least by today's standards), but the ramp was usually gated off, meant for those with disabilities and not for those with big shopping carts. I don't think I saw ANYONE actually transfer between the Kroger store and the video store, especially considering that it wasn't near any checkouts or entryways inside the Kroger. It probably would've been cheaper to demolish it and drop it to Kroger's level, which would let it be used for food and drug space, and perhaps ultimately save the store (see below).

FCV disappeared pretty quickly after the arrival of Hastings (probably closing 1999), and the space sat empty until Half Price Books moved in around the early 2000s (2003/2004), and that was after the Kroger moved in. If you walked in HP Books near (ironically) the video section, you could notice a slight depression when you walked near the wall. In the original (carpeted) video store, there was a counter near that, in the far left end, plus a big metal "cage" in the middle of the FVC. This was where the kid's videos were, including Pink Panther shorts, Barney, and Bananas in Pajamas. The video store closed in the late 1990s (1998, 1999), perhaps because of the fact that you couldn't buy groceries at the video side, or vice versa, but the restrooms were kept into the Half Price Books era, and may still be there. The Half Price Books replaced it circa 2003/2004, and was there up until 2011. In 2012, it became "College Depot", which sells A&M branded stuff (always a popular choice) and items for dorms (a good idea, actually), and despite being a bit pricey, it ended up moving up to a slightly larger place when it took to half of the old Winn-Dixie/Lacks in mid-2014, and 2410 remained vacant until January 2020 when Uptown Cheapskate moved in.

This is looking straight through to the old entrance from the Kroger. Prior to the video store's closure, there was a small area with seating.


2412 - The biggest tenant of the plaza, Kroger, was just a bit over 46k square feet, which is far smaller than the H-E-B, though it was larger than the Pantry. In July 2016, it was announced that the Kroger would be closing forever in August. Seeing how it's the largest and one of the longest-lasting tenants in the center, let's talk about it a bit.

The history of how this Kroger came to be is a bit murky, as it was a former "Greenhouse" store (image links for those who have no idea what that means) but was also known as "Kroger Family Center" through most of its life and had a store number (997) usually assigned to those were full-fledged Kroger Family Center stores, like the one in Bryan was .

Originally a red stripe ran the perimeter of the store, which I loved as a kid. Notice in the hack job of a renovation they did, they didn't even bother getting identical tiles.


One more thing I remember was that the milk area contained a lower ceiling and was tucked in a little corner of the store, forced down that way by the beer aisle (which, by the way, was once rumored to have sold more kegs than any other supermarket in the nation). Little plastic mock-ups of milk (and an orange juice) displayed prices. I've never seen anything like it since.

The floorplan resembled, except for the aforementioned entrance to the video store, the "Superstore" design in terms of floorplan (and some other people on this page back that up).


The Kroger was unofficially known as the "Kroger Family Center" even into the 2000s, even though they never had the Family Center merchandise mix, it was planned to be so, even gaining the store number that the Family Center stores had instead of the common early 1980s Greenhouse stores. I don't believe it was ever a Family Center, as it was built as a definite Greenhouse.

This is where the original exits were. You had to go straight and then left out through tiny doors.

Produce bags had nutrition facts printed on them (of fruits and vegetables), they had sample cookies, which were better than the store-bought pre-packaged stuff and did make shopping at Kroger a pleasure in my growing up years, and the bottom of the cart was spacious enough that even a 9-year-old kid could fit in there. Well, around 2001 or so, it renovated (very cheaply) to a then-contemporary décor package and rebuilt the facade so that there could be offices above the old "greenhouse" area, and pretty much meant that everything about the Kroger that was cool was gone, and it became just as dated as before and still not nearly as nice as the Kroger Signature to the south or the new H-E-B to the north.

Were these tiles even touched? Gross!


Most of my visits to Kroger post-renovation have been for convenience. I remember being mildly impressed post-renovation in early 2002, when my brother took me there to buy some dry ice, but it got dated and dirty VERY quickly, and most of my subsequent visits have been disappointments. It wasn't anything like the Rock Prairie Kroger or the H-E-B. The produce was sub-par (with a "little too ripe" smell), the international foods section was a disappointment (they put taco seasoning in this department), and generally everywhere else was slightly smelly and generally disappointing. When KBTX announced the closure in 2016, I was a bit surprised that it would come this soon but also had a twinge of sadness, as this was, after all, my childhood's Kroger (in August 2016 it closed permanently). For a brief time, the empty Kroger would come to look pretty rough, with graffiti on the windows, but it re-opened around June 2018 as another "TruFit Athletic Clubs".


2414 - To the left of the Kroger growing up was Roly Poly Rolled Sandwiches, which was in the Parkway Square of my youth (even if it opened in 1999, as I later found out, and not 1997). It lasted into the early 2000s with the sign and interior décor remaining up until the mid-2000s). I always thought it was a one-off, but it was actually a full franchise concept. Roly Poly sat vacant for a while, then it became "Next Level Sports" circa 2008-2009 (mostly tennis), and after that BVMMA (Brazos Valley Mixed Martial Arts). I believe it's vacant again, after BVMMA moved to the mall a few years back.

2414A - Texas State Optical has been here for as long as I can remember, probably even as far back as 1996. I would have to pull out my directory scan to confirm that though. It too has closed up by 2018, though.

2414B - Based on what I could find, it looks like TSO has absorbed this space, but originally this was The Cork Liquor Store (mid-1990s at least) and became Whiskey Charlie's in 2009 following a purchase of the local stores. Liquor stores usually did good business next to supermarkets as Texas law prohibits hard liquors and spirits on grocery store shelves, and every supermarket in town has a nearby liquor store that supplies the "harder stuff" you can't get at the store. For the College Station H-E-B, it's Spec's (even though it's a stoplight down), for the Tejas Center H-E-B it's Libations, for the Tower Point H-E-B, it's Whiskey Charlie's #3, and both College Station Albertsons had Western Beverages nearby, as does the Bryan Kroger. The Rock Prairie Kroger likewise has a nearby Spec's (formerly JJ's). The closure of Whiskey Charlie's in about 2012-2013 should've been a red flag that the Kroger wasn't going to make it.

2416A - Like China King, this space (a restaurant) takes up the 2416 space as well. Honey-B Ham & Deli (not to be confused with "Honeybaked Ham", a chain) was here for a long time. In late June 2009 it closed and was replaced with Taz (though not immediately), an Indian restaurant/buffet. I finally ate there in 2015 (and the first time I had goat in well over a decade). It was fine, and might share more when the restaurant eventually closes.

2416B - Advance America Cash Advance is next, and that used to be a Christian bookstore in the late 1990s and early 2000s, though results are turning up for a Pack & Mail. Maybe it was Smoothie King that the bookstore was in. Advance America mentions that this opened in 2003. Sounds right.

2416C - Smoothie King was here in the early to mid 2000s before moving to near the College Station H-E-B. Later on, it became My Party Palace (I believe around 2007-ish, since the chain was founded in 2005). It was part of a chain out of the Austin area to do princess-themed party planning for young girls, but it ran headlong into the recession, and all eight other locations closed. The College Station location was the last to close, closing in December 2014. In 2020, it reopened as Le Macaron French Pastries.

2418 - On the corner sat the Baskin-Robbins. It faced both the main parking lot and Southwest Parkway and had doors to both. Opened in 1988 and featuring "thirty-one-derful flavors", this was my favorite ice cream parlor for years. I had fond memories of this place. Anyway, Baskin-Robbins became "KaleidoScoops" around 1999 (though I swear it was a year or so later), the "32 Degrees: The Ice Cream Club", then just "32 Degrees" until it closed entirely, which was maybe 2004-2006 (by this time Cold Stone had opened up). Later on this was replaced with Corner Cuts, as it was the corner and they did do haircuts...but later they changed names to Classic Cuts (in spring 2016) before closing a few years later. The space is now Aggieland Supplements, which I believe opened 2019.

2418B - Then there's Gomez Shoe Repair (originally Cobblestone Quality Shoe Repair, I vaguely remember when they changed the name, but I forgot when). I can't find a 2418A either, probably because where 2418A would be is just a wall. Despite what the leasing plan says, I'm pretty sure that whatever was before Advance America (possibly dating back to the first tenant) used the space there and walled it off.

2418C - This has been more or less vacant for a while, between late 2009 (when they signed the lease) and 2011 (when they were locked out), this was Moosegus. I believe this used to be the original Subway (see Subway's entry further down). In the previous version of this, I claimed they never opened. I was wrong, they did! It was a skateboard/wakeboard/snowboard store. The immediate problem with that it was for a market that didn't exist. At the time it opened (late 2009/early 2010), the skateboard park there on Rock Prairie didn't exist, BearX off Deacon didn't exist, and snowboarding? Well...you know the answer.

It is now the home of Liberty Tattoo, which it has been since at least summer 2018.

2418D2 - This was Farmers Insurance, which I think was the old Jackson Hewitt. The latter was intact in 2008, and had opened several years prior to that, but by 2008 the sign was rather faded. It later reopened as Lara & Associates Insurance.

2418D - This Subway store the first Subway in the state of Texas, sort of. By sort of, I mean, it was originally on this side of the shopping center but at some point in the mid-2000s (after a logo change but before 2007), it switched from just a few spaces down. It's store #628 (the others have numbers in the thousands), and although it switched slots in the shopping center, the first Subway in Texas is in the shopping center on Southwest Parkway. I learned that when applying for a job at a local Subway (as Centex Subway did a group interview...and my old early 1980s phone books later confirmed) and although I ultimately didn't get the job, it was still a really neat piece of information. I seem to remember a store called "Beepers" (or at least the facade being called such) being around here until around 2000.

2418E - This was the former Buck's Pizza, closed circa 2010. They left the menu board intact, which you can see below. Never ate at Buck's all that much, but they had okay pizza rolls when I did have it. (For what it's worth, Buck's was here in 1998). As of 2016, it reopened as "Twisted Noodle Cafe" (guess they got rid of the pizza equipment), which I have yet to eat at.

2418F - For many years, this was FabricCare Cleaners. It had a drive-through window, but it moved in the mid-2000s, and became Tobacco Junction, which utilized the drive-through but closed after less than a few years. The awning was removed it stayed vacant for several years. It is now Daiquiri Barn, which has done even better since it opened (in 2018-2019?) due to state law changes on drive-through liquor sales.




2420 - Based on the fact that McDonald's ads in the October 1985 paper list the only two stores at the time (University Drive and Villa Maria, both of which were torn down and rebuilt about a decade ago), but a 1984 phone book did show this store being built and open, suggesting that it was opened around the same time of the Kroger shopping center after all). It had an extremely cramped and strange ramp orientation regarding the drive-through, so when the McDonald's was completely rebuilt around 2005-2006, the playground was removed to alleviate this situation. The playground was the worst: it wasn't much more than a wooden structure resembling a spaceship. You climbed up, looked out...and that was all. My brother claimed it replaced a much cooler and better playground. When it was rebuilt, there wasn't a playground at all, just a couple of Nintendo GameCubes with things like Mario Kart. Within a year or so, the controllers (they had been fixed in with metal) were so dirty and worn out. The control stick, for instance, looked like it had been chewed off.

The sign is fairly unique as well--it was originally a full McDonald's sign, but it was destroyed by a windstorm circa 2009-2010. It either had gotten grandfathered in from new sign ordinances and couldn't rebuild, or maybe McDonald's was just cheap--but they removed the damaged golden arches entirely and replaced the "McDonald's Restaurant" sign with a new simple "M"...and it wasn't even a real sign, it was just fabric that stretched over the sign skeleton (though it has held up for a number of years). In 2018, the restaurant was renovated to be another casualty of McDonald's quest to get rid of mansard roof restaurants, even newer ones. (It doesn't look like the picture anymore).

Note the fake owls mounted on the roof to scare off birds that roost on the stoplights at certain times of the year.


This photo makes the area surrounding it seem leafy and green. Not entirely trickery, a large tree was once adjacent to the McDonald's, torn down for widening of Texas Avenue. The butchered sign is in the background.


2422 - This was originally home to the Kroger fuel center (built in 2005 and torn down after the Kroger closed). After remaining empty as a repaved concrete patch for a few years, the concrete was torn out for a new Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant, the first new Popeyes restaurant in the area since the one at Graham Road closed nearly a decade ago.

So that's my story of one of the most nostalgic -to me- shopping centers in this area, as this stretch tended to be my stomping grounds growing up. I hope you enjoyed it. This post featured extensive updates in 2013, 2014, July of 2015 and July of 2016. In April 2019 some new additions were made. In August 2020, another wide-scale update of the page was done.

UPDATE 02-04-2021: Made another update to account for a new Popeyes, as well as adding Advance America's opening, and Le Macaron. A few other changes were made.
UPDATE 04-22-2021: A rewrite of the post-TG&Y tenants was done, including the mention of MJDesigns, more info on Amber's, and more accurate dates on King Dollar and Harbor Freight Tools. Removed tag [2000s].

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blue Baker Dominik

Taken January 2017 by author.


This post was originally titled "Dominik Road: Of Beer and Sandwiches". After several rewrites and ultimately spinning off other information, it was rebuilt as an article on Blue Baker 3/4/19.

Built as a restaurant called Danver's Restaurant in the late 1970s (built 1977, possibly opened 1978) that served burgers, sandwiches, and iced tea. It also had a salad bar. (Poor-quality pictures are available somewhere in the Newspapers.com archive and were posted to a Facebook group, but I can't find it).


According to my records, it later became a branch of Texas Aggie Bookstore in the late 1980s (you know, before the name was modified), then Brazos Brewing Company by the mid-1990s, a brewpub that didn't last too long, possibly due to the until-very-restrictive Texas brewpub laws. The coasters were adorned with wheat and hops. By the late 1990s, it was the Brazos Blue Ribbon Bakery (moving from the Villa Maria Rd. location), then later Blue Baker (opened May 2001), which it is today. According to a Blue Baker employee, Brazos Blue Ribbon closed abruptly one day--employees found the door locked, and all the baking equipment was left inside. In fact, a lot of Blue Baker's mixing and baking equipment (including a large brick oven, which is no longer used) is from Brazos Blue Ribbon. Despite the similarity in names, Blue Baker and Brazos Blue Ribbon are not related. Blue Baker was a modern success, and by 2007 a new location had opened up on University Drive. Today, they even have a location in Austin as well as off of Highway 40. More recently (c. 2018), an entrance opened up from George Bush Drive East, allowing direct access that way (but not an exit out).

I actually have a menu from 2002, with prices and items similar to the original 2001 mix (clearly they've gone up...), but I have yet to scan it.

201 Dominik Drive