Friday, December 4, 2015

Pooh's Park, Tinsley's, and Others Replaced by a Shopping Center

View of the center today

Once again, we come back to one of our blog, this time to roll a few smaller posts into a bigger one. As the picture above shows, the area at Holleman and Texas Avenue is now a large (kind of low end) shopping center. In addition to covering all the changes that went on there (which I have yet to do), I can combine a few older posts into this one. So, first, we have Pooh's Park at 1907 Texas Avenue South.

There's far more to Pooh's Park (no, not related to the "Winnie" one) I can get into today, because it's a popular topic on local nostalgia threads: if you want to learn more, you can head over to Facebook to talk or browse through old photos (and they include newspaper articles!)

I never got to experience Pooh's Park myself, but from what I've seen and read, it was like Chuck E. Cheese, Putt-Putt, and a skating rink (roller, not ice) all wrapped into one. It opened in 1972 and was where the shopping center where Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, and Ross are now. I would like to say that Pooh's Park remained open until it became too valuable to remain (and was getting run-down anyway) and closed in the early 2000s, but no, that's not the case. It closed around 1988 (for reasons unclear, probably economic) and only the sign remained up (with the logo of the yellow dog they had, and not the one pictured above, and the name gone) until around the time they built the shopping center in the early 2000s, and then remained up until a little while afterward.

A 1984 phone book has a different ad that does mention things like a water slide (408 feet) and a different address (at some point, they changed to 105 Holleman Drive East, though based on what you can see from Google Earth, and backed up by a picture of Texas Avenue from a local history book I don't have a copy of with me) is that Pooh's Park was accessed through Texas Avenue, not Holleman.

Google Earth 1995, with modern streets overlaid

Some older maps (circa 2001-ish, long after Pooh's Park bit the dust) put a "Pooh's Lane" roughly where the Bahama Buck's is now, but unless that first part of Holleman Drive East was actually called that (after all, there's a few things that do support that, including the odd alignment of Holleman Drive and Holleman Drive East suggests that the East part was first, and then Holleman Drive extended that way later by way of a particularly awkward curve, or the fact that the subdivision nearby (behind the strip center and the other businesses on the east side) is named Pooh's Park Subdivision.

Sharing the address with Pooh's Park (at least the original address) was one "Furniture Liquidation Mart" which closed in October 1985 (The Eagle), and I would guess that this is what Bahama Buck's replaced (it used to be the foundations of another building). It should be noted, though, my 1984 phone book doesn't list it.

Near Pooh's Park was Tinsley's Chicken 'n Rolls.

Chicken done well, chicken well done!

Opening in late 1979, Tinsley's was located on 1905 Texas Avenue South as the chain's only College Station location (there were locations from Waco to Houston, and two in Bryan--one of which has an article on the blog). In 1985, the Tinsley family sold out to Church's Fried Chicken.Church's closed sometime around 1989 (it would resurface years later). In the mid-1990s it was Santa Fe Pizza (aka Santa Fe Market Cafe). In 1997, it was Kokopelli's (Southwestern food, I have a menu but never scanned it) and Clay Oven from 1998 to 2000 (Indian food).

It should be noted the plane was a real thing, though, as David Tinsley used an actual 1930s plane to promote his restaurants, not unlike how Flying Tomato used hot air balloons.

Despite a brief re-appearance in Huntsville with much fanfare (in a former KFC and now Hartz Chicken Buffet), Tinsley's is current a dead chain once more.

Anyway, by the early 2000s, the space was almost entirely vacant (I believe Clay Oven had been demolished) with little else on the property except the old Pooh's Park sign, which had remained up. While the new shopping center (opened in 2002) had rather downscale tenants, most of them were new. There was Hobby Lobby, which moved from Post Oak Square, locating at 1903 Texas Avenue South. Others included a branch of Loupot's (1907 Texas Ave. S.), Shoe Carnival (1909 Texas Ave. S.), Ross Dress for Less (1911 Texas Ave. S.), and Goody's Family Clothing (1913 Texas Avenue South). Petco and a few smaller stores shared the 1901 address, and in 2006, CiCi's Pizza moved in from Culpepper Plaza, taking the 1905 Texas Avenue address. Goody's would close in early 2009 as the chain went under, but it was replaced with a few new stores, Big Lots (returning back to the market, as by that time, their old location at the former Kmart had been closed for several years) and a Twin Liquors (which, despite slightly nicer décor, seemed like a smaller, inferior competitor to Spec's). Loupot's also closed in spring 2012 and reopened as a Salata in less than two years.

Another shopping strip was built around the same time as the rest (but named The Shops at Wolf Pen Plaza) with Starbucks Coffee, a Sprint store (which initially had the older logo, then eventually was rebranded to T-Mobile following the merger), and Champion Firearms (moved from the Kroger shopping center). The Starbucks can be seen in its early days here from Starbucks Everywhere. It shows the ratty little building next door, the trees along Texas Avenue that got wrecked when it was widened, Goody's, and the patio of Starbucks before it was expanded.

UPDATE 07-08-2022: QoL updates including the life of the center, better closing date of Pooh's, new tags

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Loupot's Northgate

Loupot's in 1995. (PH)

Prior to when College Main was closed off (June 19th 2012, a day that will live in infamy), it was the only block which was resembled a dense city in College Station. And sitting on the corner of this block was Loupot's (335 University Drive), which closed the same year (in March). One of the oldest establishments on Northgate and once the "official" bookstore on campus, Loupot's had been around for years, though from what I've read, it wasn't always in the building, and when it was, it wasn't in both levels.

From what I've found, it wasn't bought by Loupot until 1979, and in the past, Loupot's was named "Loupot's Trading Post" and "Loupot's Books & Britches". The upper level was added in the 1980s not too long after the building was bought, as that had been the previous home of an X-rated bookstore (The Adult Library, though I read an ad that mentioned it being the home of "Sun Theater", same business, different name). Some ads I had found (but sadly don't have a copy right now) mentioned that they had shows for a quarter (and escorted ladies were free), which was around in the 1970s and 1980s. This had an address of 333 University. The adult theater was upstairs at 333 University, with Loupot's downstairs. At some point, they eventually closed and Loupot's ultimately would expand upstairs.

Anyway, Loupot's managed to expand to a few different locations, namely a location in Southgate (now home to TexAgs) and in a location at Holleman and Texas Avenue (now Salata). These closed shortly after the Northgate location. A fourth location was planned (according to a sign) to the grassy area just north of Blinn College on Villa Maria (where Blinn later added more parking). Loupot's continued to maintain its large store on Northgate, which later upgraded to electronic signage and made Internet history with its "reverse-boarded up windows" in 2005 (around the time of Hurricane Rita). However, in 2010, the family sold to Nebraska Book Company (Neebo), which already owned the Traditions bookstores (formerly Rother's), and then they started closing stores. The Loupot's-branded stores went away in March 2012, but eventually, their other stores, branded as Traditions (Southgate, University Square, and one closer to Blinn at Briarcrest and Villa Maria) closed as well.

One of their last messages on the message board was "HOLY CRAP!!! TEXTBOOK RENTAL SALE!!!", which always felt a bit tasteless due to the mild swearing but that distracted from the fact that if they're selling rental textbooks, they're probably going under.

The former Loupot's in 2013.

After Loupot's closed, by late 2014, it was to become a place called Z Bar & Bistro, which made me hope it was something better than The Corner across the street (sticky chairs and tables, smells like old beer constantly, poor service), though it eventually fell through.

As of early 2016, there appears to be some work going on at Loupot's. It will probably be a bar, but it's better than an empty building, right?

UPDATE 03-07-2021: After six years after its annnouncement, Z Bar & Bistro opened around October of 2020. It serves sushi and has a rooftop seating area. Also, the post had [2010s] removed from it.
UPDATE 09-20-2021: Renamed post from "The Loupot's Building", added [restaurants] and [College Station] to post. Also made a few smaller fixes.
UPDATE 06-21-2023: Sometime around 2022, Z Bar closed (with its time spent at 335 University a fraction of the time it spent under construction), with "Toku 12" in its place.
UPDATE 04-24-2024: Clarification to above. After December 2022, Z Bar briefly closed and reopened as Toku12.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Former Pizza Inn

Picture taken late October 2015, shortly before rainclouds rolled in and drenched the town.

The rather ragged-looking "Rodney D. Young Insurance" is shown here at 413 Texas Avenue, which looks like a candidate for demolition should something better come along (the Exxon at the corner is constantly being ragged on as being an eyesore in a prime location). It was a Pizza Inn (No. 65) opened in 1966 and remained operational until sometime in the mid-1980s. Shops and services since then include Star Video (1987-1990), Brazos Sleep and Sound (1990-1992), and EZPAWN (1992-1995). I am not sure what it was between 1995 and 2006 but by 2007 it was Rodney D. Young Insurance and by 2018, Legacy Tattoo Lounge.
1970s phone book. It still looks remarkably similar.

UPDATE 05-13-2024: Upgraded post again with all edits integrated.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Dead Lazlo's Coffee Pub

Courtesy Project HOLD. Sadly, those funky oversized door handles don't exist anymore.

Dusting off something from a longer post all in favor of integrating into that new "directory" project discussed previously, the space that is "Foundation Lounge" today (which was "Foundation Room" until maybe 2012 or 2013) was a long series of shops and restaurants that I have yet to fully document.

The earliest record I could find for this building was a store called White Auto Store at this spot in 1972.

In the early 1980s, this was a store called The Drafting Board, an engineer's supply shop (reminder: there were less computers than today), which lasted from 1980 to at least 1984 (formerly "News Office Supply", according to a 1980 phone book).

Later on it was called A&M Steak House by c. 1989 (hamburgers, apparently). After that was shortly another store, Condom Station (at the zenith of Northgate's decline). Condom Station may have actually lasted a few years before closing.

"We've Got You Covered" is what the small text says.

This was Dead Lazlo's Coffee Pub in 1995, which lasted a few years too. A newspaper article I read (I don't have it with me but if it turns up, I'll cite it) mentioned that Dead Lazlo's was owned by Sweet Eugene's House of Java which is still alive today. Given how crowded Sweet Eugene's gets, if they still owned a coffeeshop here on Northgate under any name, it would do spectacularly well.

Copacetic (or Copasetic, I've seen it both ways) Café in 1998, and Foundation Room later (which has even more recently changed to "Foundation Lounge"), but not before briefly becoming a bar called The Groove in the mid to late 2000s, which had live music. The Groove was around as early as 2004 (citing The Eagle archives) and as late as 2007 (Google Street view and a restaurant report card). The Foundation's current ƒ logo used to be a Comic Sans-esque "G". Not counting the name changes of Drafting Board or Foundation Room, that's been 8 tenants over the years, but there's probably more...

UPDATE: Here's a comment posted from 2016 regarding Dead Lazlo's from Mikes Teks: Just wanted to confirm that Dead Lazlos was owned by the same people that owned Sweet Eugene's (back when coffee came in ceramic mugs/cups and not paper cups with lids). College Main was closed due to a major reconstruction project during its first year of being open which hurt business. After its biggest supporter among the owners of Sweet Eugene's left (he used to part his Motorcycle inside Eugene's when he worked there, cool guy) they turned it into the Copacetic Cafe (or so pathetic Cafe as we called it) Same owners and coffee, but no longer had a Gothic feel to it and it soon after I 'm told. Best 2 years of my life in BCS was spent at Dead Lazlo's. Non-smoking section was in the back and the Coffin by the bar. Good times.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jimmy Jackson's Exxon

The landmark Exxon sign has stood here for over three decades.

This is the first new post in many months, but it's not a truly new post, it's just an old post "edited for syndication", and was originally part of The Far South Point of Texas Avenue (which is no longer, as the post has been rewritten), one of the last posts, which itself was originally supposed to be a part of "Texas Avenue: The Main Street of the City". Anyway, "Jimmy Jackson's Exxon" opened in 1983 at Miller's Lane (FM 2818 before it finished expanding to the highway) and Texas Avenue, this Exxon has a massive sign that was clearly grandfathered in as College Station would not allow such a majestic structure anymore like that, this Exxon was a full service stop built catty-corner to the Kmart on the edge of town (well, it was the edge back then) with a self-service car wash, garage, and convenience store.

Selling out to "Franky's" in 2001 (aka Frankie's), I actually managed to make contact with Jimmy Jackson's daughter (Mr. Jackson sadly passed away in 2013), but could not locate any photos of the gas station in its heyday. There was a second Jimmy Jackson gas station, which was sold and torn down well before his death, it was the Eckerd (now CVS) at the corner of Villa Maria and Texas Avenue.

In reality, the sign isn't quite so massive as it appears from further 2818 (mostly due to the hills), but something tells me that it was designed to be seen from the bypass when it was built (at least going northbound). As of this writing, I don't seem to have a picture of the actual "Franky's" convenience store, but it seems to have been altered from its original form anyway. I also get the feeling Franky's is kind of sleazy anyway (it was one of the ones pointed out by KBTX as having synthetic cannabis before a variety of laws cracked down on that).

2801 Texas Avenue South