Friday, February 17, 2012

Fajita Rita's, The Building of Which Eventually Burned Down

One of the phone books I have shows it has simply "Fajita Rita", then was reverted later.

Located on 4501 Texas Avenue South, Fajita Rita's opened in a building near the intersection of Rosemary and Texas Avenue in 1984 (some sources say 1983, but a 1984 The Eagle mentions their grand opening was in November 1984), right on the College Station-Bryan border (but on the Bryan side). It wasn't the first restaurant in the spot. First, Chelsea Street Pub was here in the late 1970s and early 1980s (it later reopened in the mall), but by 1983 it was a place called Rebels Restaurant & Bar (sounded like "student food", the phone book mentions it had steaks, burgers, nachos, happy hour), then briefly Fari's Restaurant & Bar. (It's important to note that sometime in the early 1980s, the address changed from 4425 to 4501).

Fajita Rita's did well but faltered in the 1990s as more chains and restaurants began popping up. Fajita Rita's closed sometime in the early 2000s (2003, likely) and was replaced with Fredriko's (moved to Northgate in 2005). It soon became a restaurant called "Las Fuentes" for a few years (and it's entirely possible I'm missing one more), then ultimately Las Lomas Mexican Grill. Las Lomas did last for a while: it did offer more of the same from FR (margaritas, decent but average Mexican food), but the building started to fall into disrepair. Its popularity was never very high, and apparently never even turned on its roadside sign for most of its existence from 2008 to its closure in late 2011. A few months later, in February 2012, lightning struck an air conditioning unit and burned the restaurant to the ground in a spectacular fire. That same night, the YMCA Building flooded (it was quite a storm). What was left of the building (Las Lomas, not YMCA) was razed a few months later.

In 2014, a new somewhat non-descript building was built on the site, and in 2016 gained both First Watch (the first in Texas, and a very popular breakfast spot) and a second Hungry Howie's (first one in ten years since Southwest Crossing. One thing remains from the Fajita Rita's days...the signage predates the building.

UPDATE 10-27-2020: Hungry Howie's closed earlier this year (2020) with reports that First Watch will expand into their former spot.

UPDATE 05-10-2024: Updated the post to reflect that it was the same Fredriko's as the one at 303 Boyett. The original link ("In brief", 4/25/2004) misspells it as "Fredricko's".