Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunset Gardens

Welcome to Sunset Gardens!

3020 South Texas Avenue

Quick, what's between Sonic and Wings N More on Texas Avenue? A bunch of things, actually, including the old location of Petal Patch, a Domino's Pizza, lawyers offices, a fitness place, a pool store, and a burned-out greenhouse/garden store that has been more or less untouched since the late 1980s.

Yes, this is Sunset Gardens. Considered an unclaimed property since 1992, Sunset Gardens was destroyed in a fire in March 1988 by reasons unknown, and supposedly, according to MyBCS, due to the fertilizer contamination, would require lots of cleanup dollars invested if that area was to be ever utilized again.

I have no idea what Sunset Gardens looked like before its devastating fire: seems that there's no readily accessible satellite imagery from those days. However, I do have this ad, which given the original October 1985 publication date, indicates it first opened in 1983. Notice the logo: you can still see in the modern pictures, three decades after it opened. I took a trip out there in spring 2012 to take pictures.

Something MAY be happening out there, I took a trip in late 2017 to see that the site had been cleared, and the sign knocked down. I tried to pull out the iron(?) "sunset" logo but it was bolted in from the other side. Additionally, the fire date is sourced from the fire department yearbook.

Same area, different view

The sign, relatively untouched, even with some of a labelscar attached, in a similar font to the "Parkway Square" font near the Kroger. Unfortunately, it's been marred by the anti-bevel crowd, which is a stupid issue I care little about.

Looking out.

A bit of foundation visible.

This structure was saved, except for the burned puncture.

UPDATE: Added opening date, and the ad based upon which this was derived.
UPDATE 6/17/18: Added fire date and site update. A duplicate picture was also removed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Southwest Crossing

The sun angle was bad, plus it was taken on my old cell phone camera (circa 2011-2012)

Southwest Crossing was built in the mid-2000s, I believe it was late 2005 or early 2006 when it was completed. As far as a 15-year-old center goes, tenant turnover is surprisingly low, so here's what we got so far, starting from the side closest toward the university (from the left, should you be looking at it head on) and ordered in terms of addresses. You can see a PDF here (archived from here) of the center. Note that they call it "Southwest Crossing at Bee Creek", though the creek behind it is not Bee Creek, though it does drain into it.

The first thing to see is the stand-alone Layne's Chicken Fingers (which I don't have a photo of), the second Layne's ever and their first expansion. Still branded as "Layne's of College Station" as it was known when it opened in November 2006, and was far more modern than their Eastgate store. This has the address of 1301 Wellborn Road. When it opened and for many years before the franchisee bought the parent company, it offered nothing but chicken fingers, Texas toast, fries, and small containers of potato salad and sauce. The cups didn't even have Layne's branding. With the purchase of the stores by the franchised version, they now offer milkshakes and additional sauce varieties.

Behind that was originally C.C. Creations at 1311 Wellborn, and the first big tenant to open, moving from their warehouse center on Holleman. Interestingly, in 2013, they moved out, consolidating with the Trophies location (Harvey Mitchell Pkwy. and Southwood) into the former Red Oak Sportswear building (very close to where they were before). Later on, this became a fly-by-night tutoring operation (one-on-one, not a group "here's how to pass the tests" type) called Aggieland Tutoring. Around 2017, part of the space became Texas State Optical (now MyEyeDr), and another part briefly became Vivint Smart Home. A section still remains vacant and is rumored to become a restaurant (a drive-through was installed but never used).

The next building, 1411 Wellborn, has four spaces. The first one (Ste. 100) was originally (2006-2007) The Beverage Oasis, a liquor store, then Haix Stores, a shoe store that operated from summer 2009 to 2013 (the signage remained up for a while after that). Tacobar replaced it in fall 2016 and closed in late 2021 in preparation of moving to 404 Jane Street. Nick the Greek opened in suite 100 in February 2023 to replace Tacobar. It is the first Nick the Greek location in Texas (and the gyros are excellent). Suite 200 was originally New York Subs (1411 Wellborn Ste. 200) which opened in 2007 (reported as "New York NY Fresh Deli" but the signage was New York Subs). I can't confirm or deny it was the same restaurant at 301 College Main. In early 2009 it was rebranded as Sub Culture (legally overnight, likely because the master franchising company out of Arizona went under) and finally closed in 2011. In early 2012 it became "Harold's Hot Dogs & Ice Cream", a local outfit serving hot dogs and ice cream. Harold's itself was also a rename from the displaced Maggie Moo's from Rock Prairie Crossing. Harold's also expanded the menu to hot dogs but it closed in June 2014. (While some bemoaned the loss of its oatmeal cookie ice cream, promises to add a fryer to add french fries went could you serve hot dogs but not fries?). In spring 2015, it reopened as another Kolache Rolf's location but closed permanently in 2018. It is currently planned to be a location of Mochinut, which will sell mochi donuts and Korean corn dogs. The next tenant (Ste. 300) opened in January 2006 as University Book Store, one of the first tenants to land in the center. It only lasted a few months before the chain went under and ended up being a leasing office for the Woodlands of College Station apartment complex for several years. It ended up being Anytime Fitness, then Aerofit Express (closing before the chain was sold), and finally Marethouse Fitness, a locally-owned fitness center that had signage up during COVIDmania but later opened by late 2020/early 2021. Suite 500 (no 400) The Beach Tanning Salon (Ste. 400) was one of the original tenants opened in 2006, but it closed by the end of 2014. Later it became the similar Tiki Tan, but it closed in the summer of 2019.

The last building has two tenants with the address of 105 Southwest Parkway, holding a C&J Barbecue (third location) and Hungry Howie's Pizza, the latter being the first College Station-Bryan location in town. Both opened in 2006. The Hungry Howie's is still the only HH's Pizza in the county, as a second location in town closed after a few years). Here's two more pictures from 2012 of the center building.

Two more things that weren't covered in the original post is Copper Creek Condos behind the shopping center at 301 Southwest Parkway (built in 2016). Predating the center (but listed as "pad site available", so it's up for redevelopment) is a Citgo. The Citgo was built with a 7-Eleven in 1986. In the early 1990s the market was sold to E-Z Mart, which began to shed stores later. Since around 2002 it has been a Zip'N, though as a brand name is kind of meaningless.

UPDATE 02-15-2024: Everything has been updated in a major rewrite, from the fate of Layne's to the legacy Citgo. A new PDF was added, too.
UPDATE 04-21-2024: After their first opening got canned, Mochinut opened for the first time on March 27, 2024. I was their first customer.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Aggie Food

Formerly "The Commons and Other A&M Food Options"

This "Special Collection" features food options on campus. There are links to four outbound articles, all of which you should look at.

Originally written at this article, I originally included Sbisa on here, but in later revisions, I moved it out.

The Original Mess Hall
Found here.

The Commons
The Commons is now found here.

Covered in MSC Old and New.

The Rest
- The University Club, which we won't cover today—it's the only places in campus where I didn't eat in spring 2012.
- The Golf Course Snack Bar—which closed circa 2004 and had hamburgers and grilled cheese. It was later functionally replaced with the Grill at the Pavilion, which took on a new name (from Pavilion Snack Bar) at about the time it closed. It got a menu update when the MSC closed, as well.
- The Ag Café was built circa 1991 and had Tomato Bar Express, Chick-fil-A, and Which Wich at the start of Spring 2012. Which Wich replaced a self-branded sandwich counter, and apparently the Ag Café was more of a cafeteria-type outlet at first until the mid-2000s, when Chick-fil-A was added, and the sandwich counter was renamed West Side Deli. Tomato Bar Express came later. Not much is known beyond that. (from MyBCS) In August 2012, it got some updates, including a repaint (from faded maroon to that pale green color I've seen around) and some removal of the florescent lights which gave it the "1980s food court" look. Tomato Bar Express was changed into 2-Mato and now has pizza slices instead personal pan pizzas.
- Pi R Square is in the CE/TTI basement. Until August 2012, it had the only known Olla Roja left, a disgusting Asian place called Lucky 8, a kiosk with Freschetta pizza, and Pickles Deli. No information is known beyond that. In August 2012, however, Olla Roja was replaced with a new concept (Chick-n-Grill), Lucky 8 was renamed as Wiki Wok, and like the Underground, Pickles became Mondo Subs.
- ChopStix may have opened in the mid-2000s. I'm not too sure. In August 2012, it became Feisty's and serves hot dogs instead of the mediocre but somewhat pricey for what you got rice bowls, which were never any good (hint: the microwavable stuff you can find the frozen foods section that look like rice boxes were about on par in terms of quality)
- The "Bus Stop Snack Bar" near Reed-McDonald had sandwiches and drinks. It closed circa 2006.
- Critical Care Café in the Veterinary Building used to offer food until the afternoon, but it does no longer serve food at all.
- At some point in the early to mid 2000s, "Zachry Snackry" closed down.
- Back when Cain Hall housed athletes, there was a buffet with gourmet food (at least, better than Sbisa and Duncan had to offer). Unfortunately, you had to be an athlete to eat there. (from Epinions)
A&M also used to have a full distribution center for its dining center, which it quit doing in the mid-2000s. The Fred Dollar Commissary was the place, complete with a functioning railroad spur. Since A&M no longer does the full distribution center, the Commissary is currently used for other purposes (like bike storage), although the railroad spur is still connected (the only connected spur in College Station in the city limits, in fact).

One of the things that was great was the Maroon Plate Specials, the "meal" plan: if you weren't eating a full meal at one of the Dining Centers, you could use a MPS as a meal, which included (usually) a drink, a side, and an entree, perhaps a fruit as well. Unfortunately, it began shrinking as of 2009, until it was announced they would be eliminated, with no meals in fall 2012, which means that it wasn't Compass Group's fault after all (at least for the loss of MPS). Another change that happened in fall 2012 was due to a mix-up in convenience store ownership...I heard from someone that Rattler's apparently won the contract to operate the convenience stores but was no longer affiliated with the the convenience stores no longer accept Dining Dollars (the Rosenthal Meat Center store never did, by the way). I had heard that the convenience stores had Maroon Plate Specials at one time, though.

You can get more information on whatever food A&M is currently hawking at For everything else, please write it in the comments or check out the source thread at

I'd like to get more pictures can wait for me to slowly collect them or you can be kind and send them to me!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Sounds good to me, especially in a time of sub-par and small grocery stores. From the early 1980s.

Built as a gourmet foods store, this building later served as the buffet Taste of China, which is what most remember it by. At some point, the building changed addresses from 1704 Valley View to 2702 Texas, but here are the various incarnations of the building.

#1: Ira's
First alluded to a comment on this blog, Ira's was a two-level gourmet foods store that sold (among other things) wine, chocolate, and baked goods, built sometime around 1983-1984. It's unknown to when Ira's went out of business exactly (sometime in the mid 1980s, likely during the oil crash).

#2: Ferreri's Italian
Owned by former hotelier Joe Ferreri after he lost nearly everything he had after the oil bust caused him to lose his beloved Ramada Inn. Probably the red, white, and green striping was added to the building at this point. I just don't have a lot of information on Ferreri's, though, nor do I know if it was any good or not (Olive Garden was just at Holleman and Texas at this point). In early 1997 it closed when he retired. After that it became the "Burton Creek Pub & Brewery".

#3: Burton Creek Pub & Brewery
Discounting the fact that Burton Creek is in Bryan and the closest creek is Bee Creek (and Carter Creek Parkway is next to Burton Creek...don't ask), Burton Creek Pub didn't last too long, circa 1996 to 1998. The place sold cigars and homemade beer, with décor including a "walk-in humidor, leather sofas, [and] bear skin rugs". Somewhere I remember was either on MyBCS or the HAIF, that Taste of China, for years just hid the leftover brewing equipment and never used it. I don't know if they served real food otherwise, though.

#4: Taste of China
Finally, it became Taste of China, which was your average (forgettable) Chinese food place (though we picked up food a few times here before, but all I can remember is greasy noodles and such), though unfortunately, it's one of the "better" buffets (a very relative term), and that was in 2005 (I have no idea what it's like now nor am willing to find out). In summer 2014, it received a repaint (all yellow, but a different shade than the nearby AutoZone) and in spring 2015 closed with little fanfare. Previously, the restaurant kept the old exterior from Ferreri's, featuring Italian flag striping.

In 2016, it became Q Beauty Supply (without fanfare) and C2 Education Centers (suite 200).

Updated July 2014 with new ad and some other stuff, then again in 2015 after it closed. In 2016 this post updated again, and I'll probably change the name and photo soon. Slight update in 2017 to account for formatting. Finally changed names again in 2019 with new header.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Putt-Putt Golf & Games

The building today

The late 1990s were a pretty sleepy time for College Station, and that was where I spent my youth. Many of these have been covered, but for mini-golf, it was Putt-Putt Golf. Located off Valley View and Harvey Mitchell at 1705 Valley View Drive, and opening circa 1988 (after the 1987 filing), Putt-Putt (no relation to the children's adventure game by Humongous Entertainment), was always pretty small (nothing too fancy, no windmills or exciting options, mostly green carpeting, beginner and less-beginner golf courses), some large fiberglass animals thrown around (giraffe, elephant: trying to with a vaguely "safari" theme), plus an arcade with tokens and prizes (it was really small--I don't even remember it having air conditioning or not, even as of circa 1999), a batting cage, and a small area for bumper boats, the only place in town for them. I later discovered that the establishment opened as a franchised location and taken over by the main company in 1991. The blurb that I found mentioned it had been expanded slightly, though I don't know what features they actually added.

While the bumper boats and mini-golf were unique, it was no Gattiland. If you wanted to have fun as a kid in those days or wanted a cool place to have a birthday, you went to Gattiland, case closed.

The logo. It's an edited version from Putt-Putt of Rome, Georgia, which did not update their logo, enabling me edit it for the purposes of this article.

Probably because of that fact (and everyone knew it), Putt-Putt just got sadder and more run-down over the years. The bumper boats went first, closing in the early 2000s (not that it was very big, I think it could only fit four), then the Putt-Putt name ("Brazos Valley Golf & Games" was the new name). By 2005, they had converted the bumper boats area to a skatepark, which seemed mildly popular. But by the end of 2006 (or early 2007--help me out here), the whole thing was closed, with only some tattered mini-golf holes, a creepy-looking abandoned batting cage, and those fiberglass animals, now fading in the sun.

Eventually the batting cage and mini-golf remnants were demolished, and the bumper boats area filled in for good for its new tenant: Paradise Scuba, which relocated from Parkway Square. They doubled the size of the old arcade building, even adding in a swimming pool inside (why they didn't use the old Bumper Boats area, who knows). They did, however, leave the lighthouse from the bumper boats area, though the lower rungs were removed so you couldn't climb up.

Paradise Scuba opened in September 2008 closed in June 2012 for good, despite the renovations to the property. Two years later, it reopened as a second location of Aggieland Cycling, which presumably filled in the pool inside. Neither business used the old batting cages area, and in late 2016, Domino's began to build a new location there (replacing their location on Texas Avenue near Deacon and Sunset Gardens), which opened in April 2017. The Domino's (no "Pizza" anymore due to corporate rebranding) has the address of 1801 Valley View, and unlike its old location, features dine-in seating. Weirdly, the official "entrance" to the pizza restaurant is the far side of Aggieland Cycling's parking lot, the closer driveway (shared with Aggieland Cycling) is supposed to be an exit-only lane.

Going back to Putt-Putt, it lasted over a decade, but to this day, we don't have a real mini-golf place. Sure, Grand Station Entertainment, the only place for bowling (Triangle Bowl and the MSC met their demise around the time Putt-Putt closed up shop) or mini-golf (of the "glow in the dark" variety, and they've got some sort of weird Western theme going on. If you want to golf in College Station, you'll have to stick with real courses and driving ranges.

Extensively updated in July 2014 with new tenant and picture, then again in 2015. In October 2017, a number of later updates were integrated. Minor updates in April 2020