Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Chicks into Stripes

Picture from October 2019.

As we wrap up 2019 for this site, I'd like to share one more story with you. Like Greensworld, this post was supposed to be part of a "Highway 6" series. I was convinced when 7-Eleven bought Stripes from Sunoco, that the Stripes at Briarcrest and Highway 6 would be deemed an outlier and closed. That hasn't happened yet, and as such, it takes the crown of the largest 7-Eleven store in the United States (if it was actually branded as such).

The roots of this super-Stripes (600 North Earl Rudder Freeway) goes back to its roots as a mega-convenience store called Chicks. While its early years are fairly well documented on Yelp, the 12,000 square foot store was supposed to be a Buc-ee's knockoff, to the point where a lawsuit was filed. While Internet armchair lawyers argued that the logo was not a problem, a reveal inside was different, as Chicks had a line of gourmet foods similar in packaging to Buc-ee's, even a version of the sugary "Beaver Nuggets" (basically imagine Cheetos except with caramel coating instead of cheese dust). The lawsuit did force Chicks to change its logo (same shape but just the "CHICKS" name with red, white, and blue) before in 2014, when the store was sold to Stripes. Stripes briefly closed and reopened the store, and liquidated much of the old Chicks store merchandise for its own, and would replace the frozen yogurt counter of Chicks with a Laredo Taco Company (however, Chicks' hamburgers continued to be sold).

One more fun fact: a second (much smaller) Chicks was intended to go in at Highway 40 and Wellborn Road, this ended up being built as a Stripes instead.

Going forward into 2020, I intend to add much less to the site, as much of this year's content (over 40 new posts!) was breaking up existing posts and existing writing. An easy way to check on new updates is to join me on Facebook where updates, new and old, or just a post that I think deserves another look, will be posted.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Hastings College Station

Author's picture, July 2015


Opened in 1998 (from what I can tell from sources/my memory), Hastings was one of the big stores in the unnamed plaza featuring H-E-B Pantry and Gattitown and relocating from a smaller store at Culpepper Plaza. The chain (with the College Station location being at 2004 Texas Avenue South) was the small-town Texas version of the late Media Play, with each store focusing on books and media. There was a large video rental section that took up a quarter of the store (originally videotapes, but eventually transferred over to DVD). The video rental section would also keep multiple copies of the latest movies to hit the video market, with some good deals on those DVDs when they downsized their collection to one or two. There was a small books section (nothing like the selection of Barnes & Noble, or even Waldenbooks in the mall), as well as music, movies, and video games. Later on (maybe 2007), the Hardback Coffee Café was added as Hastings changed their logo and updated the store's exterior. By the time this store closed in August 2015 (the Tejas Center location went approximately a year later when the chain went bust), the store focused more of their merchandise on Funko Pops and other novelties.

After being renovated inside and out, the store reopened as Havertys Furniture, which opened in August 2016. A few of the exterior features added in Hastings' original renovation still stand, such as the small plaza at the north corner of the store where the outdoor seating for the cofeeshop was, as well as part of the drive-through (which originally was dedicated to returning videos, before the renovation made the coffeeshop the main attraction of the loop).

UPDATE 11-07-2020: Mild updates made to the last paragraph.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Greensworld

The former Greensworld has been reduced to just green again.


Editor's Note: Welcome back to Brazos Buildings & Businesses! I know I did promise a post on Post Oak Mall, which can be seen at this older post here. It also includes an update of another old post to cover stores from 1982 to 1992. Future updates (92-02, 02-12, 12-present) will probably replace existing posts, such as this outmoded post. But enough on that, it's time to talk golf...

In fact, one of the reasons I'm even bringing up this course was because my original plan was to use Post Oak Mall to segue into another series on Highway 6. That was probably too ambitious, but I have one more story along Highway 6 that's worth telling that I have never yet covered on this blog.

One of the College Station's pre-2000s golf courses was located off of Highway 6, with the clubhouse roughly between Douglass Nissan and the now-closed Ninfa's. The actual greens were accessed by a concrete bridge, and at some point, a flood washed out the other side's connection. I remember getting a picture of said bridge a few years ago (it's still behind Hampton Inn) but I can't seem to find it in my "file morgue". The address is a bit of a question, the 1989 phone book suggests 1101 East Bypass as the address, but the early 1990s phone book says 1005 (likely the "real" address).

As Douglass Nissan was built in 1996, that's probably when the golf course closed, despite not actually taking up the golf course land or the club house area. The club house remained into 2005, with Douglass Nissan tearing it down by 2008 and developing it as an expansion in 2012.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Plantation Oaks Apartments


For many years, Briarwood Apartments composed half of the former Plantation Oaks. Click on it to see the full resolution!

Back at Harvey Road once again, we're skipping directly from Kona Ranch down to Plantation Oaks (on account of either no information available or already covered). Plantation Oaks was built in 1972--before Post Oak Mall, before anything on Harvey Road worth mentioning, possibly even before what is now Earl Rudder Freeway opened. Plantation Oaks Apartments was initially an enormous apartment complex bisected by Scarlett O'Hara Drive and bounded by Rhett Butler Drive to the west (the theming not subtle), but by 1980, the western half section was sold off with a minor renovation done to turn it into Briarwood Apartments. True to many of the trendier apartments in Houston (or even College Station), it included a nightclub, Zacharias' Green House.

In 2018, the apartment complexes (neither in particularly good shape, judging by reviews) were re-combined under new ownership and renamed as Castlerock Apartments, which only listed a year before becoming The Grand 1501. The picture above is for Briarwood from 1980 (the Plantation Oaks ads from that era aren't nearly as interesting, and a color one from 2005 can't scan properly) and originally appeared on the old City Directories page from Carbon-izer.com, this blog's parent site.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Former Red Line Burgers

This car wash is built on the remains of a small hamburger restaurant that despite making an impression on me, didn't even last a decade.

Before continuing on the Harvey Road series (which will be restarted next week), there's a quick stop on Texas Avenue that I've wanted to cover. One of the "College Station of the 1990s" features that I do remember was a small hamburger restaurant across from Parkway Square (which, by the way, is the most popular page on this blog)...Red Line Burgers at 2401 Texas Avenue.

The restaurant has long been a mystery, since I only remember it being boarded up before being wrecked for Shammy Express Car Wash in the early 2000s (which around 2014 renovated into Drew's Car Wash), you can see the pre-Drew's on Google Street View.

Only did a December 2014 visit to the Dallas area spark my memory as I realized a small hamburger stand was almost the exact one I'd seen in my memories. Sadly, the aforementioned Red Line is now a memory itself, having been closed the following year and demolished for a 7-Eleven, but it did last long enough to make it to a Yelp review.

Further looks into the restaurant that predated Shammy/Drew's showed that Red Line built the College Station store around 1993, and was based out of San Antonio. Even by the early 1990s, they were having some trouble keeping stores, this Corpus Christi Caller Times article about a food truck taking the name has a photo of a closed Red Line in Corpus Christi in the early 1990s.

The picture in this post is taken by the author, October 2019.

UPDATE 04-25-2021: New title, mostly.
UPDATE 08-13-2021: This was Dogs & Such (#2) from approximately 1997 to 1999. Explains why I don't remember the neon hamburger on top...

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Circle K on Harvey Road

Taken October 2019.

This (603 Harvey Road) was a Diamond Shamrock originally (or within three years of building the station in 1986), and only in the mid-2000s did it become Valero due to a conversion by Diamond Shamrock's new corporate parent, Valero Energy. It recently updated its logo and convenience store (becoming a Circle K instead of Corner Store, as it was under Valero).

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Former Kona Ranch Steakhouse

October 2019 picture by author.

The current occupant of 520 Harvey Road is Ozona Grill & Bar, a branch location of a single Dallas-area location, that based on reviews, appears to be nothing to write home about. It opened in early 2003 (February/March) according to what I could dig up online on the Eagle archives (it doesn't seem to want to cooperate with archiving links), but what's a bit more interesting is what it originally started out, Kona Ranch Steakhouse, built around 1999/2000, much like the Sonic next door. Not to be confused with Kona Grill, which is alive and well as of this writing.

Kona Ranch has somewhat of a murky history, originating out of Brinker International, spun off as Kona Restaurant Group, then getting bought as part of Fired Up, Inc., which also purchased Johnny Carino's off of Brinker.

The best description I could find of Kona Ranch was it was somewhat of a theme restaurant (like many chains), "[emphasizing] a Hawaiian cattle ranch theme with grilled and smoked meats, and specialties such as coconut shrimp tempura". Digging up some more information mentions a San Antonio location, but I doubt that it expanded much beyond the Texas area (except for Oklahoma). I can't even find anything where they opened a Houston location (it's technically possible, but I could find nothing) and from what I could tell by 2006 the restaurant had totally disappeared so Fired Up could focus on Johnny Carino's, later named Carino's Italian Grill (but I think the name reverted back).

This one was in Oklahoma City (from Loopnet).

The Kona Ranch location in Oklahoma City that was open even as far back as 1996 and was probably the first one ever opened, at least the only Kona Ranch when Fired Up acquired it. You can also see what the Oklahoma City store looked like courtesy of Loopnet, in pictures here and here. The Oklahoma City store is even listed on Zomato, giving us a look at the menu of the defunct restaurant.

Johnny Carino's next to Ozona continues to operate as usual, but it might not be for long. The restaurant chain has been in a spot of trouble lately...similar to the situation of Fazoli's, it's down to 16 restaurants in Texas as of this writing.

It was also tough digging up a "normal" logo of the dead chain, with only this ad from the Houston Chronicle as part of a group taking the restaurants to Kuwait. Chili's and Carino's continue to operate, but Kona Ranch does not (if it ever did).



The College Station Kona Ranch closed in December 2002.

UPDATE 04-06-2021: New research has given us more info on Kona Ranch. It opened the College Station location in or around June 1999 (not 2000, and thus, the [2000s] label is now [1990s]) and was one of three locations in Texas. Texarkana had theirs open in spring 1998 but closed in summer 1999, around the time the College Station location opened. That location, at 5118 Summerhill Road, was later Shogun Steakhouse & Sushi, and is "The One Buffet" today. A Round Rock location opened at 2850 North Interstate 35 in summer 1998 and closed in December 2002 as well.

The Round Rock location has been through several restaurants, currently Salt Traders Coastal Cooking (since 2016), and previously Mesa Rosa (the previous decade).

The closure of the Round Rock and College Station locations represented an exit of the chain from Texas.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Harvey Road Sonic

The upscale color scheme once suggested how College Station was becoming something different than it used to be, with Harvey Road on a growth spurt. (Picture by author, October 2019)

Opening in May 1999, the Harvey Road Sonic at 512 Harvey Road is mostly notable for its unusual color scheme of tan and green rather than the typical blue and yellow of the regular Sonic logo, it's still at the end of the day an ordinary Sonic restaurant. 

I've been told that the city originally wanted a McDonald's restaurant in the spot but there was some sort of disagreement that resulted in the restaurant pulling out. I'm not sure on the details there, but it sounds intriguing...      

It may have received some upgrades since 2000, but they weren't listed on Brazos CAD.

UPDATE 09-24-2020: Changed store opening date (and as a result, the tag) of the store as per a source that worked there. Also removed Editor's Note.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Rudy's Barbecue on Harvey Road

Always a popular choice, even on Sunday morning.

Rudy's Barbecue has long been a favorite restaurant of many, from the fatty brisket to the brisket breakfast tacos to its long picnic-style tables with red and white tablecloths and rolls of paper towels. While it has been here a good part of my childhood and all of my adult life, it was not always here. The restaurant at 504 Harvey wasn't even always Rudy's, nor was it even in the same building, it did replace a previous building on the site.

Demolished buildings are often difficult to find information for but in 1982 a plat was filed for "The Christmas Store". Apparently, the full name of the store was called "Cashion Cane: The Christmas Store" but "Christmas Store" is what shows up in my listings. There was talk on TexAgs that the store moved to University Drive sometime later, and indeed, there was "Cashion-Cane" at 404 University Drive East in 1989.

The lettering glows red at night.


Seems that the Christmas Store was originally on a smaller lot until a few years later when it expanded to the west, taking over an adjacent lot that had "Spin 'N Grocery". By 1989, however, 504 Harvey was the home of Sneakers, a bar and nightclub with a sand volleyball court.

By 1998, Sneakers was closed and planning for a new restaurant began. Opening sometime around 2001, Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q replaced the Sneakers building and parking lot. Due to its origins, it often has a small convenience store section and I seem to remember there being a small counter to that effect inside the restaurant, but I could be wrong (even if it existed, it was very small). In the case of College Station's location, Country Store was never even on the signage, as unlike other Rudy's, it lacked a gas station.

Pictures from author, October 2019.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Notorious Harvey Road Apartments

From here, we see what was originally Tanglewood South.


I don't write about apartment complexes all that often, when I do it's usually as part of something more interesting, like Mansard House restaurant at Doux Chene Apartments. Later, during the period I ran The Houston Files, there were some quirky apartments I did cover but it's still a rarity.

Following the Harvey Road series (it's across from Fazoli's), I titled this the way I did because it's got some bad press in recent years (if we go by examples in Houston, dense, super-large apartment complexes are never a good idea) and it may not even be the Pearl Apartments in a few years from now. By the year 1984, three apartment complexes were operating along Harvey Road: Travis House (505 Hwy. 30), Tanglewood South Apartments (411 Highway 30), and Courtyard Apartments (600 University Oaks).

By 1998, Tanglewood South was now Kensington Place (401 Harvey Road, same block), with BCAD records indicate that the name had been in place since the early 1990s.

By 2002, the apartments were known as "University Place I & II", likely due to the common ownership around 2000.

Down the street, looking east. Note the Circle K in the distance.


Now, from what I could tell, as late as 2007, Courtyard Apartments (built in 1977, wasn't able to find when Tanglewood South was built) still operated independently, at least, as its own brand, with Campus View operating the rest (it had adopted the name by that time). In 2011, Vesper Campus View LLC, the holding company that owned the other two apartment complexes, bought Courtyard, and it was absorbed into Campus View.

In the last five years, the local media has shown a light on how bad Campus View really is, with hundreds of calls to the police every year, with drug issues, public drunkenness, fighting, shootings, domestic violence, along with multiple maintenance issues. At least under The Marc, the new name adopted in 2016, reviews have been horrible.

This picture illustrates all three complexes, notice the different building designs.


From reading, reviews under another name a few years later with new management, Pearl Apartments, have improved, at least in terms of better management and weeding out the worst residents. But these things can change on a dime (it doesn't help the last time I was in the area, the surrounding blocks were being swarmed with cops due to a shooting in the complex), and without living there it's difficult to judge.

Editor's Note: I wanted to mostly write about this for completionists' sake since it deals with the history of three different apartment complexes. In the next few posts, we'll talk about the restaurants along Harvey Road.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fazoli's at Harvey Road

Apologies for the lower-res than normal picture, it was taken from Connecting Point's parking lot.

From the parking lot of Connecting Point Church or OfficeMax, depending on what year it is, we come across the Fazoli's restaurant at 400 Harvey Road. Fazoli's is actually one of those chain restaurants that the Houston area doesn't have anymore (or Dallas for that matter), and the College Station location is just one of 15 restaurants as of this writing, scattered across Texas with no more than one per city (except Waco, which has two).

BCAD says that Fazoli's was built in 2001, a few years after the OfficeMax was built. It's been years since I went to Fazoli's, but from what I remember, the food really wasn't worth writing home about. The menu emphasized pasta, but for things like spaghetti and meatballs, you could make that at home fairly easily, and even things like the breadsticks (which were rather salty) have frozen-food equivalents. I don't remember there being anything that I ordered there that's rather difficult to craft at home (like, say, a steak or french fries). That's at least how I remember it, maybe it's changed since then, but this isn't a food review blog, that's what Yelp is for.

This picture and above was taken by the author, October 2019.


In the next post, we'll continue the new Harvey Road series, with a quick look across the street...

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Connecting Point Church / Former OfficeMax


Reusing the big box.


To break out of the recent hiatus, I had to think of a splashy new idea, and not just some random photo of a small commercial building (it would have been quite easy to just post a photo of the Southwest Parkway Wendy's and call it a day). I had started writing on the Westinghouse plant/The Science Park/Providence Park but I still didn't have photos for it.

Rather, I was walking around today in the Harvey Road area, and it hit me. Why don't I make a series on Harvey Road? Not on the road itself, although I've done that in the past, but rather some of the things along it. Previous posts on Harvey Road as of this writing include Former Circuit City, Post Oak Square, and the building which is now Fuddruckers.

The first building is one at 410 Harvey Road, which opened around 1997 (possibly 1998—very difficult as I only have some construction-related documents and nothing on grand openings) as an OfficeMax superstore, with all of OfficeMax's "store-within-a-store" features at the time, like FurnitureMax (office furniture) and CopyMax (print-for-pay services). The new OfficeMax also included space for a small fast food restaurant in front of it (later developed as Fazoli's), and a new access road, a stubbed-out George Bush Drive East road that ended before crossing Wolf Pen Creek.

I never went to OfficeMax all that often, probably collectively less than a half a dozen times before it closed in early 2012 and moved to a smaller location at Central Station and later closed. Within a few years, the building began hosting Connecting Point Church, which later renovated the building (not much, really) and put up permanent signage on the building.

The church's foyer area and entrance to the coffee shop.


As the church is fairly small, there are two sub-tenants inside, both of which connect to the church foyer proper, The Brew Coffeehouse, open from 7am to midnight daily (except for Friday and Saturday, when it closes at 11), and Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach.

The back corridor with the restrooms hasn't changed much since the OfficeMax days.


Editor's Note: Next post will be a short post on Fazoli's, and about six other landmarks on Harvey Road will be covered by this series before the new Post Oak Mall post, and then I'll segue into/tease the next series, which will be the new idea for posts going forward, rather than a random grab bag of what I've collected recently. All pictures in this post were taken by the author, October 2019.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Texaco, Longmire Drive

Picture by author, September 2019

One more story before a major rewrite of the post on the College Station Walmart is done, the gas station on the corner of Longmire and FM 2818, southeast corner. Originally addressed as 1600 FM 2818 before becoming 2201 Longmire Drive, the gas station opened after Walmart but before Albertsons, opening around 1989 as perhaps the last "original" Circle K store to be built in the area. By the time Circle K left the area in 1999 and sold the stores to Duke & Long as mentioned in the post on Circle K Truxtop, the Circle K stores in Houston were long gone, having sold those to National Convenience Stores, which rebranded them as Stop N Go, which ultimately turned out to be a fortuitous move as whatever was left of those stores plus new ones were re-taken by Circle K within the last year as of this writing.

As for this store, the name eventually gave way to "Handi Stop" after Everyday, with the Conoco trading in its name for Diamond Shamrock (the last prototype with an italicized logo) in the early 2000s and Texaco taking command in the late 2000s as new owner Valero discontinued the Diamond Shamrock name, a move surely not unnoticed by the former "Sevcik's Texaco" across the street.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Antonio's Pizza by the Slice

Picture from summer 2013.

In the most recent update of this post (November 10th, 2021) we have learned that the subject of the post (split off from this page), Antonio's Pizza by the Slice, closed in very early November 2021 after a run of just short of 18 years, originally opening around November 2003.

Interestingly, Antonio's was actually a branch of an East Coast pizza chain with no locations in New York, but in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and, until very recently, College Station, Texas.

Back when Antonio's opened, College Main was a normal road with sidewalks, bike lanes, and two functional traffic lanes. That was until College Station decided to turn their half of College Main into a pedestrian mall (the closure happened in summer 2012) while the Bryan side of College Main was made into an attractive roadway with nice lighting, concrete, and bike lanes. The "new" College Main is a charmless void, without even a single tree and basically serves as another bar-hopping plaza like the main Northgate Promenade.

While the building is estimated to date back to 1930, records are spotty. It was Court's University Shoe Repair from until 1979 to the end of 1984. Lacey's (jewelry store) occupied half of the storefront from late 1994 to early 1996, and split the space with Perfect Tan III. Perfect Tan seems to have given way to Software Exchange, which was here from fall 1994 to the end of 1995 and became Byte Me Computers from January 1996 to April 1997, Cycles Etc. from July 1998 to summer 2003 (Cycles Etc. appeared to have occupied the full space). A 1990 planning document also mentions a proposed Thundercloud Subs in the space, but I'm not sure it ever opened. It did however, open next to Albertsons and at 607 University Drive East.

Like many a student, it was Antonio's at my time at A&M, fairly inexpensive (at least prior to 2014), decent-tasting pizza with large slices and, unlike what many of the campus establishments had, Coca-Cola products. Due to varying experiences with the food over the years, I can't really say anything particularly good or bad about it.

UPDATE 11-09-2021: Rewrote entry with better overview of former tenants, and of course, covering the closure of the restaurant ([defunct] label added).
UPDATE 04-02-2022: Added date back to the pedestrian mall as part of reworking original "104-115 College Main" page.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Arby's Southwest Parkway

This picture was taken back in 2013.

Arby's sole College Station location (and Bryan, too, though they briefly had one of their own) was built in 1982 at 1800 Southwest Parkway with a new addition around 1999 that added a large, modern facade (I remember being very impressed with the remodeled restaurant, but I don't think the restaurant seating was enlarged). Arby's has stayed put even with major closures which did a number on the Houston area, some looking like this or even newer, and this store has not received the newer logo yet (thankfully). I don't recall what the old restaurant looked like, but I'm pretty sure it was closer to this one in San Marcos (since demolished and replaced with a Raising Cane's), except with a more brown-ish colored roof.

UPDATE 03-12-2022: A few fixes. Tax data says it opened in 1982, but BCAD says 1984. I'll change it to 1982 as that tends to be a bit more reliable.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Notes-N-Quotes

Remember back in the good old days of 2013 when University Drive wasn't a completely awful road to drive through?
 
 
For years, 701 University was the home of Notes-N-Quotes, from 1992 to around 2015 when it shut down the University Drive storefront. Technically, the old website has a link to where you can still buy the flagship product⁠—classroom notes packets⁠—but the phone number is for Paradigm Books out of Austin.

Prior to Notes-N-Quotes it was a gas station, with it being listed in a 1989 directory as Dean's Exxon, and a 1959 newspaper article (the gas station was built in 1956) mentions it was a Humble originally, a name later retired for the Enco name (and eventually Exxon). The gas station likely closed when the road was rebuilt the last time (an etching near the curb gave an Aggie's graduating year as 1988, barely visible on Google Maps Street View, and only an old one). The driveways were cut off likely during this time.

In the picture above (taken by the author), you can see the Jin's/Lippman building pre-fire and the auxiliary bank building.

Since Notes-N-Quotes closed, it has been mostly vacant, only serving occasionally as apartment leasing. By November 2019, it did reopen as a coffee shop, Carport Coffee, or "Carport: A Coffee Shop".

UPDATE 12-31-2020: Removed "Editor's Note" at the start as part of routine cleaning.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Ol' J.W.'s Country Store (East 29th Street)

More accurately, Ol' J.W. don't mess with Superman's lawyers.

This one was a bit harder to track down the history of, since the gas station did not seem to have a phone number and thus the phone directories were useless. It opened in November 1983 with a Philips 66 gas station (as per the Eagle ad above) and eventually became a Diamond Shamrock (along with the Highway 6/Boonville store mentioned), then a Valero (with "Corner Store", as Valero had rebranded all convenience stores to be), then Circle K (but still with Valero). The Hwy. 21/19th Street location later became a Fina and now serves as a small restaurant. As of this writing, the East 29th gas station today still shows as a Corner Store on Google Maps.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Church's Chicken, College Station

The text is old but the picture is from August 2019.

Originally discussed in one of my oldest posts, this Church's Chicken at 2800 Texas Avenue South opened circa 2005, replacing a Wienerschnitzel, which opened in the early 1990s (1993 according to Brazos CAD). The buildings were almost identical, except Wienerschnitzel had red trim instead of blue (also, don't have a picture). I don't know when Wienerschnitzel closed: I want to say 2002. In any case, the older Bryan location still is open.

UPDATE 10-29-21: In or around October 2021, Church's Chicken at College Station has closed (a [defunct] label has been added to the post). Also, Church's opened in 2003, not 2005. This mistake stemmed from the fact that it opened around the same time the latest "Harry Potter" book was released (and thus, I was in the car when my sister went in to buy a copy), but it was the fifth book and not the sixth.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Former Aggie Cleaners on College Main

Courtesy Project HOLD, mid-1990s

As always, one of the goal of the current "new posts" is to dismantle the older posts that combined various properties. In this post, we're revisiting Northgate to cover 111 College Main, which was previously covered back in 2014. In my day at A&M it was "Gatsby's on Main", with a sign that said "Since 2004". By 2014, this was mildly impressive, which they celebrated with having drinks at 2004 prices. (I did not participate in that, that's just what I remember). But, Gatsby's did end up closing, with a replacement bar, The Dragonfly, opening in May 2018 (Gatsby's closing is unavailable). Aggie Cleaners was in the space prior to Gatsby's, from as early as 1980 to as late as 1998.

Rename in March 2020 to eliminate "address posts".

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Chili's Texas Avenue

I never ate at Chili's all that often, so I don't have memories of it.


One of the themes of the future posts coming up (though not all of them) is a trip back to 2014 to cover some places in the Eastgate area where I actually lived. It's all part of improving the Eastgate article which hasn't been touched since 2014 (as of this writing). These pictures were taken in 2014, not long before the signs were upgraded to the newer logo, and I believe by this time many Dallas stores had been upgraded already. Today it has the upgraded prototype.

Picture of the older sign.


Chili's #235 was built in 1991 and has upgraded on the inside and outside more than once.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Pizza Hut, University Drive East

In 2014, the sun was starting to set on this Pizza Hut, figuratively and literally. (Picture by author)

With the recent news that Yum! Brands is closing some 500 sit-down Pizza Hut locations, that is, the ones that haven't already been closed down, it's high time for a look back at the sit-down Pizza Hut that College Station once had at 102 University Drive East (there was another short-lived Pizza Hut on University Drive proper in Northgate, and I promise I'll cover it soon enough). From newspaper archives and other sources, the Pizza Hut opened in 1974 but closed around July/August 2017. It did retain its iconic 1980s logo for a while after Pizza Hut started rolling it in more stores (probably as late as 2007), and today is home to additional parking for Fuego Tortilla Grill. The roof was redone in brown around this time.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Northgate Subway and the University Drive Food Court

One restaurant for the price of three! (Picture taken by author, 8/19)

It makes me wonder why there aren't more buildings that house multiple brands of restaurants, arranged with common seating and other elements (restrooms, etc.), except in the occasional larger gas stations, Taco Bell/KFC stores (or other variants), or mall food courts. Yet that was the Northgate area got in the late 1980s at 601 University.

Today, a massive 24-hour Subway takes up the building, complete with a whole line dedicated for the Subway "pizzas" and a drive-through, which is rare (perhaps because of an unflattering appearance in Lethal Weapon 2? [link contains strong language]), but began as something more intriguing.

In 1988, the building (all new at the time) contained 31 Treats, a much smaller Subway, and Little Caesars. 31 Treats was apparently a rebranded Baskin-Robbins, though it was a Baskin-Robbins later according to a picture I saw once (in Project HOLD, but couldn't find it again).


Prior to Rusty Taco's move in, 2011. Notice the evidence of the Baskin-Robbins actually being called "31 Treats".


Baskin-Robbins was ultimately short-lived, as Smoothie King got their certificate of occupancy in 1993 and opened soon after. Little Caesars survived into the 1990s but at some point closed and was replaced with Papa John's.

In 2001, Papa John's expanded into the vacant Smoothie King space, bringing its 900 square foot space up to 1,500 square feet and added an eat-in area. Sometime around the late 2000s, Papa John's closed up shop at Northgate, and the space was extensively renovated to become Dallas-based Rusty Taco, which was open 24 hours, and opened in October 2011.

Looking west on University. August 2019.

However, the summer hours were severely restricted in summer 2012, turning it into a mostly lunch-based option, and it closed shortly after the fall 2012 semester started.

Yelp! is the best resource if you'd like to read more (and it pictures of the front, too!). It was cheap taco place (cheaper than Fuego, and it showed) the tacos were $2-$3 each and were full of meat, with the flagship item being the "Rusty Taco", a taco filled with reddish-colored meat. The Dallas-based chain has locations as far out as Minneapolis, and even incorporated a garage door in the restaurant in lieu of windows, creating a hybrid open-air restaurant. They also had very cheap beer ($1 Pearl).

According to a guy who worked at the Daily Ruckus, Rusty Taco's pricing was fundamentally flawed since the cheaper breakfast tacos (eggs instead of meat) had thin profit margins, but that's what was most popular, and none of them were particularly good--the tortillas were small and tasted no better than what you could find in a grocery store.

In 2013, after Rusty Taco closed, Subway ended up renovating the entire building for their restaurant. (I believe they moved into the Rusty Taco portion, then renovated the old side).

I should also mention what was here before the "food court", in the 1970s and early 1980s it was the home of an ARCO gas station. In 1986, according to Project HOLD, files were made with the city to renovate the now-closed gas station (now closed) and expand it into a restaurant called Peso Exchange. As far as I can tell, this never opened, but it is an interesting piece of trivia. Additionally, the University Drive Food Court name is derived from an official document, but in research for this document, I was unable to reproduce the name of it as searching in the city database is difficult.

Metapost: This is another post in the series to replace an old article on University Drive (removed due to an error involving lost content) with upgraded articles. The plan right now is to create a "new" post (which may or may not be previously published material) and also upgrade an "old" post.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

La Quinta next to Denny's

The current La Quinta as of August 2019 by author. Will it continue to be a La Quinta when the new one on the freeway opens?


Both of these buildings have the address of 607 Texas Avenue, thus they'll be covered at the same time. The restaurant at the corner of Texas and Live Oak was built in 1978 with La Quinta Inn was built in 1979 (originally "La Quinta Motor Inn", later "La Quinta Inn", before branded as simply "La Quinta") right behind it and, with the restaurant being Julie's Place (no. 139). The "#139" implies more of the chain, but from the Houston Chronicle archives, there's only references to the College Station location (none in Houston). Boasting a menu including hamburgers and onion soup, Julie's Place closed in January 1987 after a murder (there was a story on MyBCS, though I'm sure I had heard it elsewhere about how the manager actually swallowed the key to the safe and the stabbings were to retrieve the key, but I'm not sure on that since that's just a comment on the forum and the official court summary makes no mention of the key-swallowing incident). That said, an article from the Houston Chronicle did mention the body was cut from the sternum to the pelvis, which lends credence to the statement.


By 1989, it had reopened as Bombay Bicycle Club (not the 1990s, phone book lists BBC in that era), which was considered one of the nicer restaurants in town (it didn't have anything to do with Indian food), and by the mid to late 1990s it became a Denny's.

August 2019 picture of Denny's by author. Until about a year or so prior, it had green trim.

Additionally, the La Quinta has some additional buildings behind what is currently Rice Garden and the La Quinta Inn was previously home to a "super slide" of some sort, but I can't find much information on that. (Parts of this post originally appeared here).

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Albertsons Gets Altitude


Picture taken in 2019 by author

Built in 1991 adjacent to the Wal-Mart in its pre-Supercenter days was an Albertsons supermarket (2205 Longmire), the first store of its kind in town (#2702 post-renumbering when it became part of the Houston division, as the Skaggs Alpha Beta also converted). Despite coming in with relatively low prices, thanks to the expansion of H-E-B Pantry and the pre-existing Kroger market, Albertsons would never really thrive in this town, despite beating or tying Kroger for store count of full line stores until 2006.

Wal-Mart 1995
Albertsons is on the left, Wal-Mart is on the right completing its first expansion.

Despite the fact that it was much closer to my family's house than Kroger or H-E-B Pantry, my family actually never really shopped at Albertsons due to it being more expensive than those two other stores. As my family bought lots of groceries due to a growing family, it was more cost-effective to make the extra miles to H-E-B Pantry (later the full-line H-E-B) or Kroger (the location at Southwest Parkway and Texas Avenue), so it was fairly rare that I even went to it at all.

Around 2002, it remodeled, as the grocery market was heating up around it, probably to compete with the Kroger a mile north of it (an updated, albeit badly, Greenhouse model, and also one that outlasted a Winn-Dixie Marketplace catty-corner to it), and a large (Signature store) Kroger that opened in 2000 a mile south of it (also holding a Longmire address, natch). The décor of Albertsons in its early days wasn't all that memorable (I believe it was the "Blue & Gray" model), but I remember that a large mirror that you ran the length near the checkouts. Apparently it was where the break room and offices were. The remodel also added a Starbucks Coffee kiosk, and if I recall correctly, changed it to the "Marketplace" décor package (see above link) from the "Blue & Gray" model. It should've been surprising that the store remodeled at all (along with adding a third store in Bryan) as all around the same time, Albertsons was selling or closing stores across Texas, pulling the plug on the San Antonio, South Texas, and Houston markets, leaving a just few scattered stores that remained (along with North Texas, Austin, and Dallas-Fort Worth).

A few years after this remodel, it also added a little Sav-on logo to the front, as the chain tried to make an ill-fated attempt to capitalize on the Sav-on name like Jewel-Osco in the mideast (never mind that by that time stand-alone Sav-on drug stores had long vanished from the Texas market).

Seeing as how I don't have interior pictures (a visit less than a year ago had the store gutted entirely down to a shell), I'm going to try to walk through what I remember. Albertsons had two doors on either side, you walked in the alcove, grabbed your cart, and in the right, that was where the bakery and deli sections were, in the back was a fairly long fish counter that always smelled like fish because they couldn't move the product fast enough, on the back left was the dairy and ice cream, and in the front you had the customer service section. I think the produce was on the left side, and the Starbucks was definitely on the right. There was also a video rental place, we went there around 2003-2004. The discs were scratched up and it even had some old N64 (maybe even SNES!) games for rental, but the disc rental was cheap. Later on, this was totally gutted for Texas A&M sports apparel (I think it was in 2005), which would remain until the store's closure in 2008.

The summer 2008 closure seemed to confirm a long-standing rumor that Wal-Mart would buy the store for a Supercenter expansion, and in 2009, part of the store was demolished to make room for a physical expansion. After the Walmart was finished, the exterior walls of the old Albertsons were repainted a different shade of brown to match Walmart's color palette.

Ripping into the old Albertsons, 2009.

Walmart actually uses the back of the former Albertsons for storage and occasional other uses (sometimes the front of the gutted store was used for hiring fairs), and there's even a physical connection to the store's back to the current Walmart.

Post-Walmart expansion

Sometime in late 2016 or early 2017, I noticed that the front of the former Albertsons was being renovated into a new storefront...Altitude Trampoline Park, which would open August 2017. I ended visited the trampoline park with some family members, and created some new memories in a place that had long been vacant. Next to the Albertsons included some smaller stores with blue awnings, also with the 2205 address but suite numbers. These included Western Beverages (changed in 2016 to "WB Liquors & Wine" as part of a chain upgrade) and a few others. According to archives I found, Austin-based ThunderCloud Subs even had a store here at some point in the mid-1990s.

Previously posted on Safeway and Albertsons in Texas with some mild changes and additions.

UPDATE 12-12-2020: Reports are that likely owing to the difficulties of closure from COVID-19, Altitude Trampoline Park has permanently closed. There were also some minor edits made to differentiate the "front" of the former Albertsons (which Altitude used) and the "back" (which Walmart still uses).

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Alfred T. Hornback's

Picture from author, May 2014

For many years (at least since the early 1990s), Alfred T. Hornback's was located in Eastgate at 120 Walton Drive and featured a large floor with pool tables and country music. Eastgate was not a huge draw like Northgate was and it closed permanently in summer 2011 though remained open for special events a few years following. It's currently occupied by DC, Inc., after DC (Dixie Chicken, not DC Comics) moved out of the building that later contained Blackwater Draw Brewing Company. There's also a small professional office (122 Walton) that has dental offices (Dr. Dwight Hirsch and Dr. Monica Brown as of this writing). The building was built in 1967 as the Eastgate location of Ralph's Pizza, which it would be until 1973. In 1980, it was the home of Texas Moon Tavern, which featured steak, burgers, and beer, and while it had a different address for some reason (124 Walton) it had the same facade. The only mention of this restaurant on the entire Internet comes from this page though there's another ad for it I found. It was also the home of an even older bar called Sparky's, which is talked about more than Texas Moon Tavern. A comment from one Jim Gates on the old Eastgate page mentioned this about Sparky's: "A bar with a blacked out room lit by - you guessed it - black lights and painted in fluorescent paint graffiti. There were also two neon snow flake looking things on a tall pole overhead that flashed back and forth."

UPDATE 09-17-2021: Added mention of Ralph's Pizza to the article. Removed old Editor's Note.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Diamond Shamrock at Texas Avenue and University Drive East

Diamond Shamrock signage, date unknown. From Project HOLD, cropped and re-balanced.


Located at 501 Texas Avenue South, this Diamond Shamrock existed from 1989 to around 1998 when it was closed in the process of the Texas Avenue widening. The convenience store probably wasn't even a full brand, not even Diamond Shamrock's "Corner Store" (which existed at least as far back as 1990, but I don't believe for any of the local locations until they were converted to Valero). Afterwards, it was absorbed by the U-Haul dealership (formerly Texas Avenue Moving Center) located at 519 Texas.

Diamond Shamrock had previously been a Sigmor Shamrock store (a predecessor company to Diamond Shamrock, though it might have converted to Diamond Shamrock briefly before being rebuilt, as at least one Sigmor store saw a conversion), as was a few others. The U-Haul dealership appears to have originally been on the site of a Philips 66, and records indicate they used a building leftover to do operations, but after Diamond Shamrock died, they moved to that building and removed the old one for more parking.

The style of Diamond Shamrock (black, multiple colors) had to have been more common but no pictures exist of that style on GasSigns.org.

Prior to Sigmor Shamrock, it was Mais Super Market (sometimes used interchangeably with Louis Mais Grocery), which dates back to the 1930s.

Despite having a Facebook page for this webpage which I (try to) update weekly, I despise Facebook. However, there is one group, "Bryan-College Station: Now and Then", which usually shares my posts with their larger audience, had a bit more on the actual backstory of 501 Texas Avenue South. I can't guarantee that this link will work without the page bugging you to sign in, but the page description has been recreated here with minor edits made for clarity.

We are so happy to share these photos that were contributed by Jeff Mais, who said: "This was the Mais' grocery store that was located at Texas Avenue and University Drive. Actually it was in the path of University Drive and was torn down due to "right of way" for the expansion of the road to the bypass. My grandfather Louis Mais and his wife Lydia started the store in the 30's. It began with Louis running a small gas station. He eventually bought the gas station. Aggies would use the location to catch the bus there and would often asked if they anything to eat. He started selling sandwiches and then just kept adding items that were in demand. Soon he had a small convenience store that made deliveries, and got rid of the gas pumps. Then Louis built a bigger store next door to the old one in the 50's which had a meat market, produce section, and also sold barbecue. My dad Donald tells me that he used to deliver groceries to Bear Bryant when he was the head football coach at A&M. As a child, I remember many people gathering in the back of the warehouse after hours to drink beer and talk about their hunting and fishing tales. The store was closed in 1969 to make way for the new road. Louis and Lydia Mais were hard working people who love the community.

The photos were taken by Donald Mais, who was the son of Louis and Lydia Mais. I am the grandson of Louis Mais (Jeff Mais). I lived in College Station until I was four (1966), then we moved to Houston where I grew up.


As an additional note, the gas station was a Conoco. Despite dramatically shaving the right of way (the building of Mais was almost perfectly where the modern eastbound lanes of University Drive East go, there was enough space at 501 Texas for a new gas station. "Fill-Em Fast" opened in 1972 which became a Sigmor station (#997) which was built in 1978. At some point in the 1980s, Sigmor began to rebrand its stations as Diamond Shamrock. It's unknown if this station ever got the brand changeover, but in 1987 the station was torn down and rebuilt as a Diamond Shamrock (still #997). This is the building that exists today.

UPDATE 08-05-2021: Substantial update on the history of the property. New title and labels.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Farmer's Market Sandwich Shop, Northgate

From a phone book, though the exact year is unknown.

This building is unremarkable but has anchored the Northgate for years (Street View here). The lot was vacant in 1961 with no parking (possibly a former storefront that was burned/torn down years earlier). The modern building was built in 1968.

The first reference to the building I can find is an establishment known as Iva Starnes Men's Wear, which had locations in Bryan (and Houston, at "Fondren at Westheimer", though no exact address) in 1969. In 1971, it became an establishment known as "The Pub" (though directories refer it as "The Tavern"). In late 1973, Kesami Sandwich Shoppe ("Where No Two Sandwiches Are Alike!") replaced The Pub, which lasted until around 1976 and by summer 1977 it was Farmer's Market Sandwich Shop, a limited menu version (it later became full line) of Farmer's Market Bakery and Delicatessen in Bryan. It sold sandwiches, soups, salads, and fresh baked goods before becoming Gideon's Farmer's Market (adding catered meats to the Bryan location and pasta, pastries, and beer to the Northgate location--free delivery to dorms, too), and then closing the Northgate location, which became Equinox (the Bryan location closed later). It was somewhere in the long history of being Gideon's/Farmer's Market that it absorbed 331 University (likely 331 University used one of the dual entrances in the building, though Basil Whippet's removed one of the entrances).

The upstairs area, 331 University, was home to smaller offices and tenants. Shamrock Employment Service (Shamrock Employers) was here in 1969, and by 1972 (according to a city directory, there were three tenants, including a vacancy, Guinn & Co. (insurance brokers) and Kentucky Life Insurance Co.). Other tenants over the years included Homer B. Adams Realty Co. (1972), The Shape of Things (1975-1978, hair salon), Bear Paw Turquoise & Silver Jewelry (1975, jewelry). In 1984, it was the home of On the Double copying service.

At some point, 331 University was absorbed into the main building.

By 1993 the lower level was Equinox, and by 1999 it was Crooked Path Ale House. Somewhere between this time it was also Northgate Café, as well. In 2005 it was The Library. While having a bar with a name like that isn't too unique (seems like Michigan Tech had the same idea), The Library closed in 2008 or 2009 due to poor sales. BMO's, a rap-oriented bar, opened in the spot in 2009. It ultimately did not last more than a year. In 2010, it opened as Basil Whippet's Pub & Apothecary Lounge, and after closing in 2016, became "Icon Night Club & Lounge". The building has had a few exterior updates over time as well.

UPDATE 01-05-2020: Updated post to account for former tenants, including original stores inside.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Tradition at Northgate

The road doesn't go much further than this.


"The Tradition at Northgate" (301 Church Avenue) began construction in 2000 with the parking garage construction in 2001. It likely opened in about 2002, as that's when most of Second Street closed off and became a pedestrian promenade, the remaining part of it turning directly into the Northgate Parking Garage (picture taken May '14). Prior to the Tradition, it was formerly a church, with the 1989 tenant being United Campus Ministry (likely something else prior).

(This post is updated and split off from what is currently called "Northgate: Church Avenue" at press time).

Friday, May 31, 2019

Church Street Blues and BBQ

2014 picture by author

Church Avenue, another Northgate street, was always Church Avenue. It used to be when you could refer to this as "Church Street" and no one would care, but since the 2011 annexation of Wellborn, which has an actual Church Street, it forced the Church Avenue name into more common usage. Renaming either street would meet resistance, so we'll have to live with what we got.

The building at 100 Church Avenue was built in 2010 and opened before the "Great Church Street Mix-Up" and originally opened as "Church Street Blues and BBQ", which I personally never was able to eat at since it was not open for lunch and only in the evening and night of certain days (weekends and the days leading up to it). It was one of the first places to have New Republic Brewing Company beer on tap back in 2011, but in 2014, Church Street Blues closed.

In September 2015, the site became the home of "West End Elixir Company", which catered to an older crowd, with much of the staff being veterans. It also served wood-fired pizza. It closed in 2018 within a year of a new location opened in downtown Bryan.

UPDATE 02-10-2022: Removed note about being split from this post at press time. Added additional labels to post. Removed metapost about no longer doing a three-post-a-week schedule (wow!). Finally, a restaurant called "CALZ" opened here in July 2021.
UPDATE 03-26-2022: Whoops, CALZ isn't open yet; still, the owner vows to open despite having signed a lease and remaining closed for over a year. Some updates were made to the existing post.
UPDATE 05-10-2022: CALZ finally opened in late April 2022 but shut down less than two weeks allegedly due to a legal dispute. This may be the shortest-lived restaurant in the area ever.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Former JJ's Liquor, Texas Avenue

In the pre-JJ's days, though all but the ball-looking thing at the top of the sign survived to the end.

Originally located at the now-defunct Texas Avenue page and later at this page, this former liquor store (1600 Texas Avenue South) has been near the corner of Harvey Road since the 1970s (original build date unknown, it was listed in the early 1970s phone books but did not exist in 1971 as per aerials), originally as Discount Liquor Store. J.J. Ruffino bought it in 1983 to complement a Bryan store, and it remained as such for decades. In late 2010, Ruffino exited the liquor store and sold the three stores to Spec's. Spec's converted the store on Rock Prairie and Longmire to their brand but kept the two stores as JJ's, eventually converting them to wholesale only. I went into the store only once in 2016, when I applied for a job in the chain, though for unknown reasons it fell through. (I can tell you that the inside of the store was dark and dingy). The location at Redmond and Texas Avenue closed in 2017 when Spec's built a new store at University and Highway 6 at the former Linens-N-Things that incorporated their wholesale operation.
Southbound on Texas Avenue, March 2014, from car.
Southbound on Texas Avenue, March 2014. Another view.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Rice Garden

The big black thing in the foreground is the menu board for Taco Cabana. Picture by author, May 2019.

Behind the Taco Cabana (now Las Palapas) was another restaurant at 102 Live Oak. Planned as "City Slickers Steakhouse" but known as La Barronena Ranch Steakhouse when it opened in late 1994 (no ad at the moment, so I can't confirm if it had a tilde over the n or not).

The later tenant chronology includes College Station Seafood (operating from 2004 to January 2011), Oceans Bar & Grill (operated in the very early 2010s), Vy's Kitchen Asian Cuisine (opened July 2012, same ownership and menu of Vietnamese Taste), and finally Rice Garden (changed hands around 2018, despite Yelp treating it like the same business, it appears that it was a separate entity--a residual link from the now-defunct EatBCS mentions that it was under construction as of September 2018).

Rice Garden closed around 2020—apparently a victim of COVID-19, and as of this writing, is vacant.
UPDATE 03-15-2021: Rice Garden is now closed permanently. It appears it was a victim of COVID-19 last year. Also, the Taco Cabana referred here has since closed and replaced with Las Palapas.
UPDATE 05-21-2021: Made a more extensive update that fixes a pressing formatting error but also adds dates to businesses.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Layne's of College Station, Eastgate

Picture from author, May 2014. Note the former Sully's in the background.


Built in 1962 and home to Wilson Plumbing Company for many years, Layne's of College Station has been in operation at 106 Walton since 1994, serving little more than fried chicken strips, Texas Toast, and a spicy mustard-based dipping sauce. It is similar to the Raising Cane's chain, though actually predated the chain by two years, but unlike the 400+ locations of Raising Cane's, Layne's just has three, the original, Southwest Crossing in 2006, and a third location near Caprock Crossing opened in October 2015. (This post is split from this one).

It should be noted that Brazos CAD says the building was built in 1962, but Wilson's website suggests that they have been at Eastgate since 1945. It's entirely possible that they moved or rebuilt once while in Eastgate.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Schlotzsky's Near Walmart

Author's picture from 2013.

Built in 1998 as Schlotzsky's Deli (2210 Harvey Mitchell Parkway South) with indications it moved from Park Place Plaza, they started serving Cinnabon sometime around 2007 (I remember telling one of my friends this back in high school) and has undergone one other significant change, in 2009 or shortly after, they redecorated (with the "lotz better" décor instead of the "Silly Name, Serious Sandwich" décor) and officially dropped the "Deli" part of the name. (This post is split from this one). [Updated to account for the fact that the "lotz better" décor didn't happen until 2009].