Monday, June 17, 2013

Holiday Inn College Station / Four Points by Sheraton

To replace the stock picture that used to be here, here's one from 2015 taken from the Jack in the Box across the street.

The building at 1503 Texas Avenue South was originally a Holiday Inn, opened circa 1973 (it was under construction in 1972). Why Holiday Inn didn't build new on the highway, as that was their modus operandi, was because even though the bypass did exist at that point, there was nothing on there, and Texas Avenue still was where the activity was (even a decade into the "East Bypass"' existence, there were the duplexes on the frontage road in Bryan, the mall, and Plantation Oaks Apartments).

While it hosted guests for the next three decades as a Holiday Inn, the most interesting part of the story of the Holiday Inn was the restaurants. One of the things about Holiday Inn was their restaurants, good enough that it was able to function on its own as a semi-independent component and not just a liability to keep guests in the hotel. The link to Pleasant Family Shopping above talks about this in great detail, and given that the Holiday Inn restaurants (among others) attracted guests even in cities with more dining choices, I'm guessing that the idea of advertising a hotel restaurant as an independent restaurant has largely gone out of style, though the restaurants with Holiday Inn seemed unique enough into the 1990s to stand alone.

From what I could tell, the first restaurant (at least as of 1980) was the Brazos Room Restaurant & Lounge. It wasn't especially well-publicized, but the newspaper did still have advertisements of what they'd be serving that day (1983 papers seemed to mention only what they'd be serving, Mexican, etc.) That all changed in 1984, when the restaurant became Mongolian House, a Chinese buffet and Mongolian grill.

"American menu also available"

Garfield's was a higher class establishment than the more family-oriented Mongolian House. Open 6 am to 11 pm, Garfield's marketed toward more than the hotel crowd, and offered a menu that included prime rib, steaks, seafood, burgers, and sandwiches, as well as "54 beers of the world", which was rather good considering that craft beer was not the market it was today, and between Garfield's and Mongolian House, there was "Daddy O's" according to a city directory, and by the mid-1990s it was "Bronco's - The Texas Café", and in 2001, Beckendorf's. Naturally, there are going to be some I missed.

Holiday Inn's got your goat...and your fajitas, too!

A new Holiday Inn opened off the freeway around late 2005/early 2006 (which we have profiled here) and while that was in the works according to a 2005 directory...

Seems like a simple case of moving...
...the actual deal looks like the original hotel dissolved its franchise agreement before the new Holiday Inn was built. The same owners since 1994 (phone book advertising also indicate that they owned the Ramada Inn practically across the street during this time) renamed the hotel to Clarion Hotel by September 2005 (restaurant report cards from The Eagle) but by October 2005 the new Holiday Inn was still under construction (Google Earth imagery).

From a source that I forgot when I originally posted it, here's what the Four Points/Holiday Inn looked like as a Clarion .

By February 2009, Clarion had been converted to "College Station Inn" (which changed the Clarion sign at the top of the hotel), and sometime in late 2010 the hotel closed. After a major renovation inside and out that took place in 2011, Four Seasons by Sheraton opened, a mid-range brand owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, in April 2012. Four Points had a small in-house eatery, the Century Café, which was one of the first clients of New Republic Brewing Company, even before they started making cans.

In September 2020 the hotel closed during a downturn in the restaurant and hospitality industry (do I even need to explain it?) and was removed from Marriott's website (Marriott had bought Starwood during this time).

This time, there was no second chance at the hotel. After over two years of abandonment, it was announced that it was to be Melrose College Station (not to be confused with the clothing store in the mall), an assisted living facility, which opened late 2023. I'll leave you with one last look at the hotel as a Holiday Inn when it was still doing well, advertising in a local tourist guide.
Notice the text below the sign has been added in after the photo was taken.
UPDATE 10-01-2020: The hotel closed around September 2020 permanently for unclear reasons, and has been removed from Marriott's website. The rest of the article is unchanged, however, and will probably update again when it inevitably reopens under a new name...or gets demolished.

UPDATE 10-12-2020: A recently uncovered picture to be used in a future version of the article shows that the "square" was on the top level was never there as a Holiday Inn, only getting branded with Clarion after the hotel swapped names. That line has been removed from the article. A full rewrite of this article will arrive when the property changes hands again.

UPDATE 10-15-2020: Clarion picture restored as part of "featured post" upgrades.

UPDATE 04-01-2023: Full rewrite done following announcement of the hotel becoming Melrose with a new picture, new mention of the Brazos Room, and a new picture.

UPDATE 12-19-2023: A few minor touch-ups including mentioning opening.

UPDATE 06-17-2024: It should be noted that the restaurants post-1991 (specifically Bronco's) were leased operations and not run by Holiday Inn. A tax entry for "Fulin Restaurant" exists for the Clarion days but otherwise information remains sparse.