Saturday, January 28, 2012

Target College Station

My picture is from 2012, and it represents Target's second renovation. It originally didn't look like this, and altered slightly since.

2100 Texas Avenue South

We have talked about Kmart (which is gone). We talked about Walmart (which is still there). And now we get to Target.

The Bryan Target opened one day and 16 years after the College Station Target, and we are not talking about the Bryan Target today (and as for the Bryan Wal-Mart, we might that eventually, if only in passing)

Well, the Target in College Station (T-800) opened in July 22, 1992 and has only been remodeled once, around 2005-2006 or whereabouts (I don't remember when). I do remember the old store, though I'm glad I had a few memory jogs since then (including a visit to a two-story yet unrenovated Target, a few pictures of a Target of that vintage, a visit to a Kmart, and this excellent blog post [contains language]).

Well, unlike that link shared in Dumpy Strip Malls, which showed the interior of an early 1990s Target, this store looked different. There was still aluminum hand railings near the check-outs, a rather unimpressive in-store eatery, a store that smelled like popcorn (what's wrong with that?), but the signage was colorful, with large signage directing you to different parts of the store, with arrows and red/blue/green/yellow signage on the departments and signage to them (a "department signage example" here, though it's an old one). In fact, the whole store had these red/green/blue/yellow neon strips around the store. You can see a glimpse of that at Southridge Mall, Des Moines, Iowa, which opened the same day as the College Station one and delightfully hadn't renovated yet, so you can see that from inside the storefront (Sadly, it has since been remodeled). You might also find better pictures if you do some Flickr digging, but that's on your own time.

The store wasn't all that different from the one that's there now: the store was a different color on the outside (whiter) and the departments were arranged differently, with a different merchandise mix. I know the electronics were toward the front of the store, near where the pharmacy is (I remember that the Dreamcast games were closest to the front wall) and that the foods section (very different back then, mostly just chips, candy, and soda) was near the checkout stands. Regrettably, I can't remember much more than that (unlike the Wal-Mart, which only changed its departments more recently--plus I went to Wal-Mart a LOT more than Target). I remember the dressing rooms hadn't changed all that much (a bit nicer), the food area renovated, and the water fountains were finally cool (that's what bothered me about the old store: the water at the fountains was always warm). I remember the systems at the Customer Service desk advertising baby registry or Club Wedd...those didn't change too much (except for flat screens).

The toy section was in the far right back section of the store.

The post-remodel store, which finished by 2006 boasted a huge food section (this was before the P-Fresh model, so it lacks things like pre-packaged fruits and meats, and certainly things that SuperTarget would have) which added dozens of foods adorned with brand names and the Archer Foods name (Target's house brand). It even added milk, which Target lacked before (Wal-Mart always had it)

I don't know what it replaced, though I think it was some hardline goods that Target no longer carries (like gardening supplies or automotive--or they just shrunk the categories in everything else), and that's one of the reasons I don't like Target as a discount store, the small selection of hardlines, and the fact that the quality of some items aren't much better than Walmart's (take my advice, don't buy analog clocks at Target). Later on, Target did some more updates, like updating signage.

One final memory: when I was younger, there was some little glass display that appeared around Christmastime, with some sort of thing that spun around to the bottom. It had lots of fake "snow" and I think it was some sort of mini-Christmas village. Anyone remember it, know what I'm talking about? No?

Since this post was added in 2012, one more change has occurred, which updated the d├ęcor again to dark grey walls. The layout remained more or less the same, however.

Last updated June 2019

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Special Services Building

Besides the rare snow, I couldn't find a picture of this building that wasn't decades old.

Does anyone remember the Special Services Building? It was just north of Haas Residence Hall in the northwest part of campus, and from data on the Internet, razed in fall 2001. (It sits about where the basketball courts of the Hullabaloo Residence Hall now stand).

Unfortunately, we have little information of this building. It was at least three stories tall and references on the Internet mention offices being located there. But what was it? "Special Services" is a rather vague term: I've heard it had laundry facilities (actually a branded operation of FabricCare Cleaners that appeared to stay up until around 2001) in the past, but that's about it.

The main reason for demolition I remember it had creaking floors: so bad that it was deemed structurally unstable, with the furniture being abandoned.

However, the "Special Services Building" reportedly dates back to 1914 according to this TAMU chronology. Is that right? I mean, most of the buildings back then were made primarily of wood and would've been demolished by the 1960s or 1970s, and it would be a miracle that the SSB survived for that long.

According to "Truthfinder" (a commenter), I received this information.

It was home to the Department of Rural Sociology and the Texas State Data Center when it was torn down. Rural Sociology then moved off campus to the buildings left of Barnes and Noble.

The building was deemed unsafe because of large cracks in the structure. The walls in the basement had cracks at least 8 inches wide. Everything was packed up and moved out within a few days.

It was a very unique building because it once was a hospital. Grad student offices were in a the old tiled operating room. The floors were sloped with a large drain in the center. The departmental supply closet was lined with lead. There was an old fashioned gated elevator in the back of the building. The facade had several Corinthian columns.

The building was also home of one of the more famous campus ghost stories. An elderly professor who passed away at the hospital was supposed to haunt the hall of the main floor. He wore a bathrobe and slippers and could be heard shuffling up and down the hallway.

More photos:

Updated July 2020 to incorporate 2012 comment

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Burger King Near Blinn

From August 2019 with the gas station recently de-Rattled. Picture by author.

When I first made this post back in January 2012, it was titled "The Terrible Food at Blinn", which was a rant on how awful the food was at Blinn compared to my new digs at A&M (which only lasted one semester before food was outsourced to Compass/Chartwells). I have no idea what Blinn's current digs are like but was astounded at what awful quality it was: there were very few places to eat on campus at all. There were vending machines (overpriced more than usual), the college bookstore with a small selection of convenience store items (Pop-Tarts were the usual item of choice here, despite an obvious push to stock more "healthy" items), and the student center having two "food court" type establishments, both of which were absolutely terrible, "Clux Delux" and "Block & Barrel". Clux Delux, according to what the packaging stating was supposed to be a bit like a poor man's Chick-fil-A, but it was just cafeteria food sitting under heat lamps, with cartoonishly bad everything. Unidentifiable gloop, an item on the menu literally listed as "chicken chunks"...Clux Delux had it all. Block & Barrel was just pre-packaged items including soggy, plastic-wrapped sandwiches (when were they made? who knows!)

This was depressing to me, as way back when Blinn was opening the Student Center building in the early 2000s, it had real fast food, one of which was a Taco Bell (I suspect the other was a Yum! Brands restaurant). Indeed, underneath the cheap banners of CD and B&B, you could see holes drilled in where the restaurant signs once were...and you know you're in for a real disappointment when Taco Bell is considered high cuisine to whatever they served.

Naturally, no one but the desperate wanted to eat the overpriced slop at the student center, so the nearest go-to place was a Burger King at the corner of 29th and Villa Maria, and due to schedules, was still too long to be walked to and from. Opened in 2007 along with an adjacent Rattlers', the first new Burger King in town in over two decades (certainly slow compared to the growth of the city's McDonald's restaurants). My memories of it were thinking it was grimier than the typical Burger King, and also around 2011 or 2012 when they switched to having monitors for the menu instead of just the normal menu system that slid to show breakfast and lunch items at different times.

The Rattlers', of course, is still branded as such, despite the takeover of the chain by Stripes. The chain's Shell stations have all been converted to Sunoco stations, but the Exxon-branded Rattlers' remain, for some reason. Or at least they would, except this is no longer a Rattlers', and instead a generic Exxon convenience store as of August 2019. (It also throws the other Exxon Rattlers', like the store on Boonville and Highway 6, or the one in Navasota, into doubt). This seems to have happened very recently, it's even still on the Stripes store locator page (#5258) as of this writing but lacks even the Stripes drink cups. The convenience store is at 2411 East 29th Street whereas Burger King is at 2401.

As an update to the above written, as of March 2020, the name of the convenience store is now called "Rustlers Den", a similar name to the Rattlers except with red lettering.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tales of Defunct Restaurants at 1045 South Texas Avenue

Kerri's in better days. Sorry for the terrible scan and image quality, but this is what I have.

Back in 2012, instead of publishing articles on individual businesses, I made the wrong idea of dumping several restaurants into a single post called "Tales of Defunct Restaurants", which became a series. Initially, this contained a variety of other restaurants now covered elsewhere, namely Tuscany's, Yum Yums Texas Style, and Fort Shiloh Steakhouse, explaining the discrepancy in the comments below.I did update the post a few times since (though when I did that is lost to time) to add a picture of, and expand on, the restaurant that was last in the original building before Raising Cane's took it over...Kerri's Stacked Enchiladas.

But let's go back to the beginning, or at least the beginning as I can find it.

Built as a branch of California-based Sambo's (which had over 1000 in 47 states at its peak), the restaurant originally opened March 1974, replacing empty land. But in the early 1980s, Sambo's imploded. With mounting criticism from its name and theme by politically correct groups and problems stemming from a massive expansion, it filed for bankruptcy in 1982 and closed.

No restaurant appeared to be in place by the time the 1983 phone book was published.

In 1987, Wings 'n Things opened up by Mark Dennard. Apparently, this was related to the Houston-based Wings 'n Things as a franchise (or of the same corporate parent, seeing as how WnT opened the same year but for whatever reason, it fell through and Dennard renamed his restaurant in College Station to Wings 'N More soon after. It looks like it was founded at 2711 Fountainview, which was a Wings 'N Things just until this (re)writing in January 2017.

Sorry, isn't working.

I can't find a lot of details on the split, or how much Mark Dennard was involved in Wings 'n Things, but apparently it did happen and the restaurant was renamed. Mark Dennard never opened very many other Wings 'N More stores (one in The Woodlands, one in south College Station in toward the late 1990s) but was able to franchise Wings 'N More in Houston (where Wings 'n Things was based), and those restaurants later became BreWingz as that spun off.

In January 2003, this location of Wings 'N More moved out to a modern location at University Drive East and Highway 6, where it remains today, but it wouldn't remain closed for much longer. In 2003, a new local restaurant replaced it, Kerri's Stacked Enchiladas. Despite a strong start, including winning Best New Restaurant in Best of the Brazos 2003 and Best Southwest Texas Cuisine a year later, it folded by 2005.

It made no changes to the outside of the old Wings 'N More, and from what I've heard, not much to the inside, either (except adding some new Aggie memorabilia). The logo was a semi-provacatively-dressed brunette (wearing one a torn shirt that was basically torn and twisted into a short top) holding a plate.

Open from 11am to "late", this is what the Dining Guide of 2004 had to say on the matter. Keep in mind that since I haven't heard great things about Kerri's in retrospect and this was written by the restaruant, chances are high that parts of this paragraph are blatant lies (already I see that they must have forgotten Kokopelli's, and the full paragraph is as follows:

The Brazos Valley's first Southwest restaurant has already been recognized among the very best restaurants in the entire Brazos Valley! Our unique stacked enchiladas are made fresh from scratch daily --topped with the freshest produce in town! At Kerri’s we also boast the best Fajita Stacks in town and offer a diverse menu sure to please everyone, from healthy choices like veggie quesadillas, veggie stacked enchiladas, stack house salads to main stay favorites such as ribeye steaks, chicken fried chicken, southwest lasagna, burgers and much much more. The desserts alone are worth the trip to Kerri’s. We have catered many special area events such as weddings, receptions, concerts, business luncheons and dinners, numerous city council meetings and an array of late night party events. Consider Kerri’s for all of you catering needs -- we will deliver to the location of your choice, or reserve our spacious dining and stage area or huge outdoor patio. Kerri’s has the freshest food in town at the most reasonable price. Go see for yourself why Kerri’s was voted Best New Restaurant in the Brazos Valley! While you’re here relax and enjoy our full service bar and ask your server how to get a
"soon to be famous"

All that disappeared by 2005 when Kerri's closed down. After the restaurant closed, someone made some sort of bizarre Pac-Man graffiti on the roof, with (illegible) names next to Pac-Man and the ghost. I'm not sure what they meant, but with the highly visible graffiti, a nearby dead Mobil (which closed in about 2004), and the closed Texaco down from it, by mid-2005 it contributed to a feeling that the stretch from University to George Bush just started feeling really run-down.

By January of 2006 (according to TexAgs archives, and sounds right in my memory), the building was torn down and a Raising Cane's was put in its place by summer. Raising Cane's actually has the date the store opened (June 2006) along with a little blurb about it. I wish more chains did that...that's really cool. You can see a picture of the building here that I took in May 2014.