Thursday, May 30, 2013

Steak & Ale / Oxford Street / Yum Yums Texas Style / Seafood Mama's

From Stalworth Online, during its days between Oxford Street and Yum Yums


The late Steak & Ale chain opened at 1710 Briarcrest Drive at some point in the early to mid-1980s before being sold to new ownership in 1987 and renamed as Oxford Street in October 1988 (as Eagle has reposted recently). The restaurant closed in September 2008, and it's unfortunate that I don't have more information on Oxford Street than I currently do, but it was a moderately-priced steakhouse (not to Republic or Christopher's levels) featuring "candlelight dining featuring steaks and seafood in an Old World setting" according to the 2004 Dining Guide.

Oxford didn't stay shut for long, as it was soon replaced with a restaurant called "Yum Yums Texas Style". Already there's problems with that: if it looked like a four-year-old named it, you'd be right. There used to be an article on The Eagle, dated March 2009 titled "Yum Yums owner gets back to roots with eatery", which a lot of the following is derived from (the link is now dead). The restaurant opened with the goal of "upper-end", homemade-style food, but it wasn't to last. The name had problems and unfortunate connotations which were called out in comments, with few defenders. It closed in less than a year. By all accounts from the brief time Yum Yums was on this earth, there were very few things to say. There's a scathing review on Yelp that blasted the food (the employees were nice, but that couldn't save it). One review from YellowPages.com (a "kelsey27") blasted it with "this place is totally DISGUSTING... FOOD SUCKS, STAFF SUCKS" and also the contractor was never paid for work done to renovate the restaurant (this is supported independently by third parties). Interestingly, on the original The Eagle article, there was a comment, and this is unaltered:
I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW RUDE YOU PEOPLE ARE BEING TO A FAMILY THAT IS BRINGING REVENUE AND OPPURTUNITIES TO OUR TOWN! GET OVER YOURSELVES AND GO EAT SOME GOOD FOOD. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HOW WELL THIS RESTAURANT DOES~

I'm guessing this person was the owner, or at least a close family friend.

Seafood Mama's opened in December 2011, painting the whole building a dark blue color and offering seafood and other items. Never went to Seafood Mama's, as it had very mixed reviews (Yelp's "Greg D." gave it five stars, which may or may not have been faked) but that couldn't be helped, as in late June of 2012, the restaurant was gutted by a fire ([archive]) and it did not reopen. By fall, it was razed. The Seafood Mama's sign still has been up ever since, and as of this writing (July 2020) a Frost Bank is rumored to be built in the spot.

UPDATE 12-13-2021: While the text reflects the last update in July 2020, as of December 2021 the pad has been totally rebuilt with a Frost Bank (opened in July 2021), but construction demolished the sign instead of reusing it. Additionally, it should be noted that Steak and Ale opened in November 1984, meaning its life as a "real" Steak and Ale was extremely short-lived. At least sister store Bennigan's in College Station lived a longer life before it closed in 2008 which did in the remaining Steak and Ale restaurants.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

West Villa Maria Shell

The station following "renovations" in 2013. Picture by author.


I snapped a few pictures of this gas station recently (as of 2013). First off, it's old, from 1982, with one of the earliest references with the food mart (at 1439 West Villa Maria Road) being Nash's Food Store in 1984, and by 1989 it was a Zip'N, which it remained until around 2006-2007 when it just became "Villa Express" (which is there in the pre-renovation picture, albeit quite faded). There was a minor upgrade in 2003-2005 as well, where it kept the Shell station designation but upgraded logos to keep the brand.

Also originally, it did not have access to 2818 at all, the west "exit" to the gas station just went onto a power line right of way, which was unpaved and just dumped you on back on Villa Maria. The snow cone/smoothie shack was there as long as I can remember, and the gas station has two other spaces, including 1437 and 1435. From archives, 1437 was Beetle's BBQ (though occupied 1435 as well), and I've hear people tell me that there was a "music/drum shop" at one time as well. In the picture below, you can see Xtreme Hitz, which is at 1435 and according to Facebook, opened March 2012 (but I never saw them going to summer classes at Blinn that summer), so maybe they opened in October. They appear to carry hip-hop related clothing and clubwear. In any case, I don't remember anything in my travels about a clothing store co-habitating with a gas station (mostly banks, restaurants, and aforementioned dry cleaners).

Early 2013 car shot. Because it was taken out the car window, it reflected my shirt. Oops.


For years, the Shell has had for years a billboard near the Exxon at La Brisa announcing the prices. Over the years, I've sadly watched the prices climb (and the sign fade, get repainted, and fade again until vanishing for good).

After a few years running under the "new" facade, the gas station closed up shop for good by 2018. However, the Shell signage still towering over the station. In 2019, it slowly started changing over to a Citgo station and reopened.

UPDATE 03-31-2021: Minor updates. I should mention the new convenience store is "Pit Stop".

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Northgate Chevron

She cleans up nicely. There's even a canvas-covered area on the University side for the taco truck that hangs out here.

When I went to college at A&M in the early 2010s, I always had seen this strange pile of bricks on the corner of where a run-down gas station sat at 301 University and wondered what, if any, grander building was once there. Turns out, there wasn't one. There has always been a gas station structure here since the 1970s or 1980s, and before that, it was a residential house with a yard.

Sometime around the late 1960s or early 1970s, the house was torn down and a Philips 66 gas station was built, but after that things got a bit murky. In the very late 1970s it was enclosed to be a bar. Two of the comments from the older version of this page seem at end with each other: "Around 1979-80 the owner enclosed the old service bays, remodeled and turned it into the Thirsty Turtle" and "I bought the Thirsty Turtle and remodeled it and reopened it as the 12th Man & Co. in 1978. The Thirsty Turtle was indeed a bar. It had a small but loyal clientele. Some of them actually blamed me for closing the Turtle and were somewhat threatening at times. But we got opened and survived until Texas changed the drinking age laws."

Others seem to remember 12th Man & Co. came first. Regardless, sometime during the mid-1980s (likely 1986, which would make sense with the "drinking laws" time frame) the building was torn down for a gas station again, a Citgo with a 7-Eleven (as Citgo and 7-Eleven built stores together in that era). In the spring of 1993, the 7-Eleven name vanished from the area as they were sold to E-Z Mart (by this point, the stores in Houston had also since been sold to National Convenience Stores where they obtained the Stop N Go name).

While I'm sure E-Z Mart still had the Slurpee machines (until they all broke like the rest of the former 7-Eleven stores in town), over time, the E-Z Mart just got more and more run-down, with the nickname "Sleazy Mart" as it continued to deteriorate (though to be fair, it was in very close to proximity to the bars). The earliest reference I could find is from this 2004 posting but who knows how far it really goes back.

By the time I got to A&M, the E-Z Mart name had disappeared, having sold their stores to other owners around the mid-2000s (I seem to remember the Citgo at Southwest Parkway and Wellborn became Zip'N around 2004, but don't quote me on that). The store had been renamed to "Aggie Food Mart" but A&M's lawyers don't want private businesses using "Aggie" or "A&M" for anything anymore, so it was just removed. The canopy was literally falling apart, the pumps didn't really work properly, and there was a trash-filled alley in the back where a faded mural was (now painted over), but I imagine that it was probably meant to be used for additional retail adjoining the 7-Eleven. Today that space (space is valuable in Northgate) is just wasted.

Sad thing is, ALL the gas pumps had looked like that.

The Boyett stoplight installed in summer 2012 made the intersection a more prominent "entrance" to Northgate (compared to the east side of Northgate, where large attractive campus buildings co-mingle with fast foods and the Rise at Northgate) just made the eyesore intersection more obvious, sharing it with the ruined Campus Theater across the street.

Sometime around 2016, things started to change. The Citgo branding completely disappeared and the gas station went unbranded for a time as it morphed into a Chevron, and finally, came the "Gig'Em Food Mart" name, complete with a shiny new Chevron canopy and pumps (interestingly, this came right at the time as the Southgate Chevron lost its branding), but I haven't been inside since they redid it since I have no idea if it's just window-dressing or the inside was done as well.



Last updated April 2020


Monday, May 27, 2013

Blackwater Draw Brewing Company, College Station

I liked Blackwater Draw's food, despite its shortcomings.


Back in the days prior to the 1950s, professors lived in houses on campus, from the place of the modern-day Memorial Student Center and parts south. Most of these buildings were not demolished, however--they were literally partially disassembled and placed in other parts of town. The house on 303 Boyett at Church Avenue is one of them. Of course, a lot of them still have been demolished, but the one at Church and Boyett hasn't. I'm not sure of the house's history since being moved off-campus, but it has served as restaurants in recent years.

By the early 2000s, it was "Satchel's BBQ & Steaks". According to Restaurant Row, it was "a casual family style restaurant with a rustic ambiance, a fireplace, cozy booths and knickknacks placed throughout. The cuisine is traditional American fare with beef, turkey, pork, chicken, steaks, and seafood entrées. The bar serves domestic and imported beers, wines and mixed drinks. They offer a kid's menu, take out and catering."


From LoopNet, back when it was Fredriko's

By 2007 Satchel's was gone and it had become a Mexican restaurant called Fredriko's, which I ate at once (it was forgettable, and is now gone). Apparently it used to be another restaurant, as well, but I don't know of it. By 2011 (roughly) the building was "DC, Inc.": the headquarters for Dixie Chicken and other related restaurants (Dry Bean Saloon, Dudd's, Chicken Oil Co.), but by 2013 it moved again (former location of Alfred T. Hornback's) and started to renovate as restaurant space again: the Blackwater Draw Brewing Company, a brewpub owned by the same owners as O'Bannon's. Given the generally positive response to brewpubs I visited in Michigan, I had high hopes but was tempered by the lousy reputation of Northgate (Chimy's, I remember, was a huge disappointment). Reviews looked great though, and upon trying it (in November 2013, if I recall) I found the food to be very good, a decent value (more expensive than a typical campus lunch option) with good beer. One downside was limited burger toppings without an extra charge (even things like tomato). The menu was a bit limited as was the seating. I always wished that they expand and open a larger location, taking the example of The Chimes in Baton Rouge, a popular bar/restaurant near campus, which ended up opening a larger, two-story location called The Chimes East away from campus with a ton of parking (for a restaurant, that is).

In December 2015, they did open a second location in downtown Bryan, but it was only to focus on beer production, and did not serve food. The Northgate location ended up closing in May 2018 due to rising rents in the Northgate area, replaced with another restaurant by fall, "The Spot on Northgate" which was more of the same in terms of Northgate food variety (burgers, beer).

During the Dixie Chicken Inc. days, a banner outside said "Come And Drink It" in the form of "Come And Take It" of Texas Revolution lore.

UPDATE 03-26-2022: Following the last update in 2019, it appears that Satchel's operated from 1998 to 2004 and may have been officially recorded in tax documents as "Savannahs", and also the first restaurant in the spot. Fredriko's was here from 2005 to 2009.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Commons

The Commons, before trees or bike racks, back in the '70s. From Cushing Memorial Library

This article (as it stands) was written during 2013 with some in-text updates later (as I had mentioned that it had closed for renovations, which was not the case in 2013). I had intended to do a full rewrite but that didn't end up happening (see update). The address is 676 Lubbock, and...here we go.

Here was one of my favorite buildings on campus, which has since closed for renovations. I don't have a ton of information on the historic information of the Commons. I believe it has always had a post office area (or was it just mailboxes?), common lounge areas, ping-pong, and some eating places. What I'm NOT sure on is how the history of that building was. According to Historic Aggieland, it opened in 1972 along with Dunn Residence Hall and Krueger Residence Hall. The other two dorms were built in 1976. Though I heard the original dorms were built in 1973, with the Commons and the others being completed in '75. Regardless, the buildings are solidly from the mid-1970s.

According to A Pictorial History of Texas A&M University, 1876-1976, Mosher Hall and Kreuger Hall were built as women's dorms (with the other two being men's). The Commons dorms (at least as of this writing) still retain their "shared bathroom" layout. The rooms feature your typical two beds/two desks, but the bathroom is shared between two rooms, with one toilet, one shower, and two sinks. That's unfortunate—sharing a bathroom between another unrelated person is bad enough, and probably would've been a deterrent to actually living in the Commons (I'm sure I wanted to live in one of the Commons dorms at some point).

As seen in the Sbisa Dining Hall article, there were arcade and pinball games at the "Commons Snack Bar" in the late 1980s, which I'm guessing became the Common Denominator later on. (indeed, a 1970s yearbook confirms a "snack bar" was upstairs). This was one of the four "Snack Bar" locations in the 1980s and 1990s, which were the Pavilions Snack Bar, the Golf Course Snack Bar, the Bus Stop Snack Bar, and the Commons Snack Bar, which served primarily sandwiches and chips (note that all of these are gone, with the exception of the Pavilions Snack Bar, which morphed into The Grill at the Pavilion). By 2001, the Commons Snack Bar was now the Common Denominator Snack Bar and Lil' Bernie's Pizza Corner (a spin-off of the late Bernie's at Sbisa, back when Bernie's offered and was known for pepperoni rolls) was built as well.

According to Aggieland '74 (and alluded to the comment below, before I updated the post), there was originally no convenience store, but rather a branch of the "Texas A&M University Bookstore" (later renamed the MSC Bookstore after the branch locations closed). According to the comment below, that later became the convenience store "Common Market", the convenience store on campus. And of course, from the 1970s until the mid-2000s, the basement was the Commons Dining Center.

While not the best food on campus (though it was in the 1970s), you could cook your own food (until Sbisa introduced it as well), which sounds awesome but probably a health/liability problem.

You’ll get a larger variety of food at the downstairs eating facility in the Commons (a setoff dorms on campus). The food is very similar to the food at Duncan, but they usually have some more options. Also, you have the option of cooking your own food. Eggs, bacon, and pancake batter are provided in the mornings, and frozen hamburger patties are provided for lunch and dinner. This isn’t a bad deal if you want to take the time to cook your food. It usually tastes better than what they serve. The grilled cheese sandwiches are widely held as the best food served. This dining facility also has plenty of Blue Bell desserts.


(from an old Epinions review)

According to my cousin, who once worked in the Commons food services, said that not only were there things like egg, bacon, pancake batter, and hamburger patties, on Sunday afternoons, there was frozen steaks you could grill.

You read that right. Steaks. On the meal plan. Combine that with the aforementioned Whataburger (Sbisa page), and wow, it must have been great back then. Meanwhile, somewhere along the lines (early 2000s), Chick-fil-A Express was added to the upper level.



However, in 2004, the Commons Dining Center was closed permanently, partly from the fact that it people ate there less, and partly due to the fact that it was not up to code.

The eating areas on the upper level at the time included Chick-fil-A, Stone Willy's, and Common Demoninator Deli. A "temporary" food court was added at a cost of $50,000, which added Common Grounds, Commons Xpress (which served hot entrees, side dishes, salads, and cookies, not unlike the old Commons Dining Center), and Olla Roja. Apparently, there was "not enough room" for the food court to accommodate students, however.

This was fixed in 2005, when the Commons dining area was renovated, featuring Olla Roja, Zatarain's Louisiana Café, Sargino's, and Common Denominator Deli. Sargino's replaced Stone Willy's in 2005, and initially featured salads and pasta in addition to pizza. It's presumed that Zatarain's replaced the Commons Xpress line.

It says in the article that the new Commons had "lot of color and excitement", maybe from the tables. My jaw dropped the first time I read that as I couldn't believe that those tables had been any newer than 1998 (and that's pushing it). While I do love older things on campus, I prefer period pieces (the old MSC before it was butchered, Chemistry Building '72, Zachry, etc.) rather than things that look dated from day one. The expansion of the food court to modern standards when they converted the "TV rooms" into additional food court space, but they didn't even take the signage off.



The eateries had different sizes than before. Since the modern Sargino's (mentioned in the above linked article) lacked the pasta and salads, I'm guessing the 2005 remodel downsized it. Around this time, Common Grounds moved to the basement and the Tomato Bar, a pasta/sandwich/salad place opened in the basement as well. The Tomato Bar was opened in 2007, aimed at providing healthier alternatives to the usual gamut of pizza and hamburgers. This opened in spring 2007, and was a far cry from even Oodles of Noodles or Baby Greens based on reports. Like the successor food joints upstairs, you could pick your salad ingredients or pasta ingredients beforehand (instead of just asking for them cafeteria-style), and they even had things like artichoke hearts as a salad ingredient.

By 2008 more changes had taken place, Zatarain's, as you can see in the picture that I had from the Commons Main Level map has the same Zatarain's logo you see on boxes of Zatarain's stuff, except they had a whole restaurant, which I can't find anything else on any Zatarain's Louisiana Café. Maybe they got in trouble for use of the name? It and Olla Roja closed around that time (Olla Roja had two other places on campus at that point, so no tears were to be shed yet). It was in fall 2008 that the Tomato Bar closed, because of (you guessed it) health code violations, meaning not much had changed since they closed down the Commons Dining Center. To make up for the loss of the Tomato Bar, a new eatery was open in the Commons Food Court: The Tomato Bar Express, which offered two lines, salad and pasta. These replaced Olla Roja and Zatarain's, though Zatarain's didn't even make it until 2008.

The eatery below was around in the 2006-2007 era, and I have heard nothing about it online except for a few references from the dining website (archived). As tasty as fish is, I can see why Spearfish flopped in the Commons food court and was forgotten.


Meanwhile, where Commons Grounds relocated to, a lounge opened up in the basement with Common Grounds and "Jalapeños Burritos y Mas" on one side and Tomato Bar to the back, the latter of which closed when Choral Activities gutted the area for the MSC renovation. I'm not sure what will happen when it reopens. Somewhere during that time, Cabo opened for at least a semester (a test before they opened in the MSC), which unfortunately lasted less than a semester in the MSC before Compass completely ruined it.

And now to my time at A&M and a personal note: the Commons was my go-to eating place for my first semester at A&M. Having been in the post-MSC era and the post-Whataburger in the Underground era, the Commons has been there for me, where my diet consisted of every eating place available Sargino's pizza (greasy but delicious), Common Denominator (which was my least favorite), Oodles of Noodles (a lot of food, but my interested waned over time--this was the old pasta line of TBE), Jalapeño's (never disappointed), Common Grounds (coffee and ice cream, but never for lunch), Chick-fil-A (always a favorite), and Baby Greens (the salad line--I tried healthy eating, and that worked for a while, except one time I got food sickness from it and never went back). In August 2012, disastrous changes had affected The Commons thanks to outsourcing: Sargino's had changed their recipe and was now self-serve (blaargh), Oodles of Noodles and Baby Greens had gotten decor updates (along with Sargino's, as well) and renamed "Pasta Fork" and "Crisp", respectively. And due to the Compass changeover, prices went up all around. In the basement, going down the stairs and going straight back, you can see The Tomato Bar, gated off but with decor intact. Will it ever reopen? Probably not. Jalapeños became Saboroso, as well.

In winter 2012, the Commons bike racks were finally replaced.

The convenience store mentioned, which was originally a self-branded operation (Common Market, then Commons C-Store) until the late 2000s when Rattler's rebranded it, where it functioned much like a regular Rattler's, except with a lack of alcohol or cigarettes (and that was before smoking was heavily restricted on campus), though it does sell condoms. In August 2012, it "de-branded", becoming "Outtakes" (much like the Sbisa Rattler's), though restored its name within a few months. It is a Rattler's once more, where you can get some of the cheap coffee (relatively, of course) and other snacks.

Unfortunately, due to Sargino's being ruined and the whole fact that the Commons was often dirty and crowded, I didn't go to it at all in spring 2013. Maybe they reopened the other part of the basement. Regardless, I'd still like to go to the Commons again and take pictures.

This post was a spin-off of the linked post as shown here.

UPDATE 9/29/13: A few things have changed. Sargino's looks edible again (but not the same, never the same), Cabo is back in the basement (fake Chartwells burritos Cabo, not the real Cabo--and now it's no longer MSC exclusive anyway), Common Grounds is closed (a few signs remain and the lights remain on, but it's gutted completely), the Tomato Bar area is still closed, the place where Choral Activities is still office space, and the tables and chairs were finally replaced with tasteful wooden furniture. The sad thing is, it's rumored that the Corps will be "taking over" the Southside dorms, and the Commons isn't even unique among dorms anymore, with new amenities at Hullabaloo Hall making the Commons seem ugly and dated (it only took them four decades).

UPDATE 10/7/13: In the process of talking about The Tomato Bar and another feature of The Commons that has since departed...small updates will be in the process here...

UPDATE 3/24/15: For more on the Tomato Bar and some other photos from 2015, check out The Commons Companion.

UPDATE 6/12/18: I had actually planned to rewrite this back in 2017 (I had a job at A&M, making visiting easy) but there were some problems with it. First, it would've completely changed the tone of the article as The Commons, well, it was ruined. The stairs were still there but it was gutted and turned into sort of a discount MSC, with a large "Aggie Express" convenience store (woefully overpriced, even by convenience store standards, and understocked) on the first floor and a large cafeteria in the basement once more (Chartwells dreck)...and that was it as far as food options went. The dorms are being renovated with huge HVAC units on top, ruining their exterior aesthetics as far as I'm concerned (I'm a purist) and no doubts they look different on the inside as well. Then I lost that job at A&M, ending plans to not only kick the rewrites into high gear but also because I had plans to add other TAMU buildings, as I was bitter and depressed about the whole affair (I mean, I put the update on ice for the better part of a year). It really was too bad that they lost the Rattlers' license...I know that it was unlikely that Sunoco would keep the (non-fuel) campus stores but it would've been so much cooler to have a full Stripes there, one with Laredo Taco Company (enough room) and real Slurpees (courtesy of 7-Eleven).


Friday, May 24, 2013

Northpoint Crossing

One of the coveted corners of this building is taken by a small convenience store, and not even a big name. (Picture by author, 1/20)


This post was originally written as "Other Buildings Demolished for Northpoint Crossing", as I intended to write a full article for the new development, and some of this content originally been part of the Plaza Hotel article a long time ago. Later I did make a Northpoint Crossing article, but at that point it was little more than a picture, as burnout had settled in.

Today, the Northpoint Crossing complex is composed of six large apartment buildings, some of which have retail space. The retail space never really took off, with notable exceptions. World of Beer (opened September 2015) sits on the corner of Texas and University in the 425 Northpoint Crossing building. Minuti Coffee opened at 424 Northpoint Crossing, the next building down, around the same time. The first tenant was actually a location of Toastie's Sub Shops out of Austin opening in spring 2015 but closing a year later (coincidentally, around the same time an Austin location was locked out for lack of lease payment, and by January 2017, the Toastie's chain, was, well, toast. In June 2018 it became Smallcakes Cupcakery & Creamery. Elsewhere in the 424 building but at Northpoint Lane and a road what we can only assume is also "Northpoint Crossing" a Gateway Newstands convenience store opened.

The Clubhouse is for residents only, standard for student apartment complexes. (Picture by author, 1/20)


What about the places before Northpoint Crossing? That's what you came for.

This represents the area circa 2011. Ignore the building marked as "2", it was covered in the main Ramada Inn article.

1. This was originally a Gulf station, opening too long after the Ramada, with a garage. It was kept relatively updated, with the only known change being turned into a Chevron in the late 1980s, which gave it a re-do on the trim from red-orange tiles to the early 1990s-era Chevron blue-and-gray. This was, of course, due to Gulf Oil being bought by Standard Oil of California in 1985. Standard Oil of California changed its name later that year to reflect its flagship brand, Chevron.

This particular Chevron gas station was finally shut down in the mid-2000s and torn down circa 2007. I don't remember the garage specifically, however--it's possible that it was converted into a convenience store in the 1990s (but I have no proof of that). Some older phone books refer to this as "Piper's Gulf (later "Chevron", of course) Service Center". The address of this was 420 Texas Avenue. A decent enough picture of the gas station (Chevron) can be seen at the main Ramada Inn article.



3. This was was built as a UtoteM convenience store, once extremely common across town and the state. It became a Circle K in 1984 with the buy-out of the chain (and was already closed by 1989 following Circle K's massive retraction). Later on by 2007, it became "Ink Dreams", and a few years later, "Oasis Pipes & Tobacco". The address was 1405 University Drive. I don't have the full history of the building, however. In July 2013, I discovered in 1995, it was listed as "Sterling Automotive". Since the lot of the former UtoteM is pretty small, it's likely that this was either just a showroom or the old parking lot behind it (as seen) was used for Sterling, and not for University Tower. Oasis moved to Eastgate after it was evicted. There's a back portion of this, I don't know if the buildings were physically connected or if it was just an additional office space area off of Meadowlands.

4. 1403 University Drive held a Kettle restaurant, dating back to at least 1980. Distinctive because the yellow and black P A N C A K E S sign, it closed sometime in the 1990s (it was open at least into 1998, so that's the date I'm going to go with). While the Kettle signage disappeared several years before its demise, the PANCAKES sign (not unlike the Waffle House logo, which it's often confused with) was very distinctive. Kettle sold the property in 2004 to Leonard Ross (Rossco), which like other properties he owned just deteriorated until it was sold to the Northpoint Crossing developers in 2011.

Regarding these two I have two Google Maps Street View photos, one from 2011 and one from 2007 (it shouldn't be too hard to tell which one is which). It also clearly shows the P A N C A K E S sign, so if you have any doubt that it was a Waffle House, you can dispel them, because we never had one and from the likes of it won't be getting one anytime soon (let's be realistic here).


6. These were some apartment buildings colloquially known as the Meadowland Apartments,
Originally part of another development called North Park (and the building out of the rest of Meadowland Road), the Meadowland Apartments (6) were (likely) built in the 1980s and were owned by the same owners of University Tower at one time. I'm guessing these were closed in 2005-2006, but I don't know for sure. I believed them to be located at 701 University, but later evidence suggested that they had individual addresses per building, which I haven't found yet. Remarkably, a few still stand: I guess that Northpoint Crossing never managed to get all of them. At least one of them was demolished for the "Home2 Suites by Hilton" hotel. The two today are fourplexes with 1402 Northpoint Lane and 1404 Northpoint Lane, but these have been changed. They weren't originally 1402-1404 Meadowland.

5. This was the only remaining house left on the block, 125 Meadowland. This was taken out for the redevelopment. It looks like it had a second structure behind it: possibly additional bedrooms. I had some friends who lived in Eastgate around the time I originally wrote this post, wherein at least two lived in the main house, and at least one lived in a shack behind it. I'm not sure if that was even allowed via ordinances.



7. This was a 1960s-era building has seen a few things come and go. The address was 100 Texas Avenue South.

The mid-mod building started out as the Dutch Kettle Snack Bar (*not* related to the Kettle restaurant on University) there at Hensel and Texas, and probably one of the first (if not the first) 24 hour eateries in College Station. Alas, while other 24 hours eateries benefitted from the Plaza implosion such as Fuego and Denny's, this did not, as had been closed for years (even as the donut shop, which was decidedly NOT 24 hours). In the late 1970s, it became Schlotzsky's (one of the first franchised locations), though a 1976 article suggests that a short-lived location at 808 East Villa Maria Road may have been the first), and remained as such for years, even into the 1990s). By 1980, this store and a Culpepper Plaza store was in place (unknown address for Culpepper Plaza). By the late 1990s up to the mid-2000s, it was "Snowflake Donuts", which closed without much notice well prior to the demolition of the area (presumably after Schlotzsky's moved closer to Northgate . This was, as John Ellisor has mentioned, a chain, and even today, a a sibling store is off of Gulf Freeway in Houston. The Houston location was heavily modified at some point in the past while the College Station one was virtually untouched...but the Houston one still stands with its dual chimneys. Later on, this became the leasing office for Northpoint Crossing where it continued to use the address.


Not mine, originally from a Brazos County history book



Street View of the restaurant shortly before demolition


Updated January 2020 to include actual Northpoint Crossing information along with some other stuff

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Before, During, and After Texadelphia


From Jennifer Cowley/University of Ohio (used with permission).


This is another one of the many articles here that involve a revolving door of tenants, with some interest paid that it went from being fairly run down (but at least useful) to fairly run down again. The point of this story focuses on the single most important tenant that was ever in this spot, even if didn't last very long at all.

For what it's worth, I did manage to go to the Texadelphia in Rice Village twice in the late 2000s and from what I remember, it had its own brand of cheesesteaks (not just roast beef and cheese, it was steak) and served with chips and salsa, complete with a mustard-based sauce that would put Layne's to shame.

Going back in time, the Promenade was not there, only Patricia Street, which instead of dead-ending near Freebirds, continued all the way to Boyett. A small building contained a UtoteM convenience store and other stores by the late 1960s.

All of the buildings at the corner at Patricia and College Main dated back to the 1940s. The buildings included 201 College Main was home to the (by 1995, at least, though it hadn't departed that long ago) former Northgate Athletic Club (though it had been Kinko's for many years, dating back to at least 1980, FabricCare Cleaners before that, which was another laundry establishment, "A&M Laundry & Dry Cleaning"). Also, in the 1970s briefly, it was also the home of Victor Caudillo's "Victor's Boot & Shoe Repair", but because I don't have any resources prior to 1980 (that's a drive to Bryan).

About the same perspective in that Texadelphia / Logans' post as well.


The other two buildings (317-319 Patricia) were eventually combined into one building, the tenant being Chicken Basket by the late 1990s, a fried chicken (and ice cream, looks like) outlet owned by the Sopasakis (as my research on 301 Patricia showed), was owned by George Sopasakis as well and was not given compensation for relocation. No wonder the Sopasakis disliked the city so much.

If this was still around when I was in college, this would've definitely been a lunch option for me.

317 Patricia was originally A&M General Life Insurance Company back in '62, McLaughlin's of Corpus Christi in 1975 (hair salon) and 319 Patricia was home to "Custom House" in 1973 (a women's clothing & gift shop, inc. jewelry and macrame) and Pizza Express in 1983 (pizza in Northgate was plentiful in the 1980s). The buildings may have been combined as early as 1984, as 317 Patricia was Emilio's Pizza, which documents listed as being in the same spot as Pizza Express, even though they had different addresses.

Of course, the existence of the restaurant was always a source of controversy, as the short version is they bought some property from an elderly couple for far less than it was worth and sold to Texadelphia at a good profit.

For whatever reason, Texadelphia Sports & Sandwiches as it was then known, did not open in 1998 with the rest of the Northgate Promenade, instead opening in summer 2000. This was likely because of the renovations to the building. It looks like that the original 1940s buildings may still be partially intact...Loopnet said it was renovated in 2000, and a College Station document discussed "facade renovations" to 317-319 Patricia, and compounding this is the second arched area toward the back of Texadelphia, hiding the differences between the roof heights (on Google Maps you can see that this is indeed correct).

In 2003, facing a combination of problems, citing high rent and parking-related problems, Texadelphia owner Willie Madden abruptly decided to close, moving the store to The Woodlands area, as the Houston area was where the owner had more stores.

It became a bar ("Logan's On Campus", despite being a block north of the boundaries) soon after, saying goodbye to a rather neat restaurant designed to make Northgate trendier and instead, arguably, making it worse overall. Now, it could be also argued that College Station wanted to make Northgate into its own version of Austin's Sixth Street, and Logan's did have a sister bar in Austin...Logan's On Sixth.

In 2012 it was sued by a certain steakhouse chain--and then a week or so later the restaurant closed for reasons supposedly unrelated to the suit, but it never reopened.

I tried to make it the same angle, as this clearly shows I am not a professional photographer.

Here's a picture of what the building looks like now. Logan's has done some minor changes to the building, those trees grew up, and a stop sign has been placed abruptly in the shot because part of College Main was closed off and became a pedestrian mall (and they still placed a brand-new, full-sized stop sign there). Over the Christmas 2013 break, it changed its name to "Logie's On Campus", likely because of that same lawsuit. In the summer of 2018, Logie's filed plans with the city to renovate the exterior, which involves the removal of the awnings above the entrance that Texadelphia had built.

One more thing: the pictures from 1995 aren't very good. Better prints (but in black and white) can be seen at Project HOLD here (Chicken Basket is linked, navigate back to find 201 College Main).

This was originally two separate articles, one published in May 2013 and a second article created in September 2013 to further elaborate on it. In late 2015, these were combined back into the original post, which was almost completely rewritten, including upgrading links. In August 2018, this post was updated to account for the fact that Texadelphia has returned to the Houston area and that Logie's is renovating.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taco Bell on University

The restaurant began renovations in July 2013. It doesn't look like this anymore.


731 University Drive

This was built as a James Coney Island (out of Houston) in 1992, and deed evidence indicates it became a Taco Bell in 1994. I don't have a picture of the building when it was a James Coney Island, but I can surmise it looks similar (if not identical) to this picture, right down to the door placement, the black and white checkered part, and, just out of view in my Taco Bell shot, a circular window. Before the James Coney Island, it was an old-style Texaco, built with custom maroon roof tiles instead of the stock red.

(Updated March 2019)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Classic Homes

Taken by author in 2013.

It's unknown when this was built (no records on BCAD) but as far back as 1980 this business as photographed in 2013 was in business as Classic Realty (later Classic Homes) at 1700 Barak Lane, so I'm assuming 1970s for build date (Loopnet says 1970, though it's often inaccurate). Recent research shows Classic Homes has permanently closed.

UPDATE 05-20-2021: After the last update in August 2019 which showed Classic Homes as being permanently closed, this business is now serving as the home of D&S Community Services. The current Google Maps Street View as of 2018 has the Classic "signage box" but the D&S logo on the side (also, "REAL ESTATE" has been removed).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Heirloom Gardens


12900 Old Wellborn Road

While now a marble countertops place (with the creative name of "Granite & Marble" but later expanded and turned into "Premier Countertop Design" with a much larger building built behind it), this used to be Heirloom Gardens (12900 Old Wellborn Road), which was open at least as far back as 2002 when it was replatted as part of Rock Prairie West Business Park.

The old Heirloom Gardens website, HeirloomGardenExperts.com, was up for years, and for years kept an automatic copyright date with a "Season Ending Sale" and a PDF of the directions, which portrayed Google Maps as it appeared circa 2005, which was full of inaccuracies. Now, however, it appears to be hijacked by some of spammer site which deleted information on the actual location and provides links to other spam-type sites.










In addition to not knowing when it closed (the pictures are from September 2010, when I had longer hair) I don't know when it opened. Obviously it was closed by September 2010 and probably closed after a full season, based on Google Earth aerials was open in fall 2008 so it might have closed that year or fall 2009. The back areas originally had the actual plant areas, and that was demolished in 2011, with a driveway from the nearby businesses connecting back toward North Graham.

According to old phone books, the building once had the address of 2892 North Graham Road and as of 1993 (built in 1985) had Wellborn Road Veterinary Hospital as its tenant. This may or may not be the same as the modern Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center down the street built in 1999.





As you may have noticed above, North Graham was sadly truncated from the railroad years ago (references online say 1999). I'm guessing that back when North Graham had a railroad crossing and a stoplight, it was substantially easier to access.



I also found a Google Maps Street View picture of the truncation from the other side of Wellborn. This was demolished when Wellborn was widened.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Doomed Buildings at 290 and Beltway 8



16009 Northwest Freeway - Taco Bell
16055 Northwest Freeway - Wendy's
16002 Northwest Freeway - McDonald's
16061 Northwest Freeway - Brake Check

Believed to all closed in fall 2012, except for McDonald's in early 2013 (just a guess: I don't know when that Brake Check closed, either), this is our first post outside of the Brazos Valley and into Houston, which has far more interesting things to check out (and also a destructive city in terms of architecture, moreso than College Station). But this is an exception to what we have had before, and not the norm.

I was too young (and never really traveled on that part of the highway anyway) to remember the Katy Freeway expansion, which not only took an abandoned railroad right of way, but required demolition of dozens of buildings: office buildings, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and houses, with many easily less than two decades old.

Because the expansion of Northwest Freeway isn't afforded the abandonment of the railroad, many streetside buildings are simply being condemned and torn down. A tragedy.

There were three restaurants wedged at the corner of Beltway 8 and 290, a Wendy's, a Taco Bell, and a McDonald's, not very visible except for their signs pointing out of the sides of the highway. I know I've passed 'em several times, back when they were still selling delicious greasy food, but never ate there myself, seeing as they weren't particularly convenient, and were often there at the wrong time or the wrong side of the highway. But for the times I did go through Houston, I passed them by. They were familiar to me.

But now they are gone. I'm guessing they were built sometime in the 1980s, seeing as how Wendy's has the "solarium" dining room. A friend and I stopped by in our travels to Houston last March. Enjoy some of the pictures.

It's worth noting that we went to the dumpsters of every restaurant to see if we could snag anything, but we couldn't (maybe they went to Sparkle Signs, I know there's an old McDonald's sign there). We figured that if both pieces of a sign were intact, we could each take one, clean it up, backlight it, and mount it on a wall, creating an imposing and interesting piece of décor. It would also be a great conversation piece. But alas, we couldn't, and all we found was random trash. I have a few pictures we took, but the rest could perhaps be told another day.


My friend (seen) and I attempt to order some food from McDonald's. No reply.

The Wendy's sign carcass.



McDonald's was repainted recently, albeit for nothing.



It was also stripped up its roof and boarded up tight.



Yo quiero.



Flaking paint, exposing green. Was this not originally a Taco Bell?!



Inside Wendy's. Well, looking inside, anyway. This was my friend's picture. Or at least his camera.


Wendy's exterior. Had to crop the person out.



Aforementioned Brake Check. This was not examined terribly closely.

If you enjoyed seeing Houston buildings, and would like to see even more, check out our new associate at Arch-ive.org, which explores old Houston buildings. There's no comments and there's sadly little text to go along with it, but most of the stuff is rare, the photos are great, and it updates on a more consistent basis.

Edit 6/14/2013: Commenter "je" has reported that the buildings seen here have been torn down.