Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fuego Tortilla Grill

Fuego after a recent repaint. Picture taken by me in July 2014.

Fuego Tortilla Grill (108 Poplar Street) is a small chain in Texas selling tacos. The San Marcos location used to be a KFC while the Waco location (on Interstate 35) replaced a motorcycle shop (and a new-build). The Fuego in College Station replaced something far darker.

For years, a brown brick building at the corner of Poplar and Texas Avenue was the home of "Adult Video" at 603 Texas Avenue. The building faced Texas Avenue (the entrance was off Poplar) on a lot that was vacant prior to the early 1980s (construction took one smaller house). Legally operating as "Dolar Video Inc." (as that what's it was officially) and operating out of Irving, apparently, Adult Video had its name in large, red block letters shining out to the Texas Avenue side (the building was where Fuego's dirt parking lot is now). It was a huge NIMBY for years from its opening in the early 1980s, and in 1994, a clerk was shot in the head in a robbery. According to the company profile listed above, it eventually shuttered due to tax reasons (this is backed up by other sources) but I seem to remember that in the final days, the "ADULT" part was removed, with only "VIDEO" showing, possibly (though I can't say for sure) an attempt to go legitimate (as College Station had essentially banned businesses like it operating within city limits in the early 2000s). It shuttered in 2004 for tax evasion.

Around 2009, the now-vacant building was finally removed, and along with another house razed around the same time, a restaurant initially filing under the name "Al Carbon Street Taco Grill" appeared. During this time, an article that described the extremely janky operations of the previous Adult Video can be found here, though the date is wrong, it was originally published two years earlier. When ACSTG finally opened later that year in 2010, now Fuego Tortilla Grill, it quickly zoomed to be extremely popular. Despite the poor location and access, Fuego Tortilla Grill became wildly successful, even in light of new competitors on the horizon and a salmonella outbreak in 2014, closing the restaurant for the first time since its opening. Finally, in September 2015, it ceased its previous 24/7 operation to be closed on Mondays.

Before Adult Video, there was a Texaco (Alford Texaco) on the site (c. 1969).

UPDATE 10-27-2020: Changed some wording and added mention of Texaco.