Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Lone Star Pavilion and the Former Red Lobster

This view really hasn't changed all that much in two decades. (Picture by author, 3/2019)

The URL of this page refers to the original name of this post, "Lone Star Pavilion and Friends". It was in reference to the Lupe Tortilla (formerly a Red Lobster), which was grandfathered into a new development. The second version of this page attempts to reorganize this page while discussing the first-generation stores here.

From 1969 to 1973, Oakridge Smokehouse was located at 807 Texas Avenue South in a building that resembled their (still open) Schulenburg location. Later, Mama's Pizza opened in the spot in July 1977. At that location, Mama's even gave out little paper mustaches to promote their restaurant (courtesy the Project HOLD collection. By 1980 there was some sort of split, with a new Mama's Pizza opening at 1037 Texas Avenue and the existing restaurant renamed to Pasta's Pizza Spaghetti & Lasagna. It appears that this vacant for several years save for a 1986-1987 stint as Las Palmas Restaurant. In 1991, it became home to formalwear shop Ladies & Lords, which would close in 1997.

Directly behind it was 805 Texas Avenue, which was Aggieland Schwinn in the 1980s and later Computer Access from the late 1980s to demolition. Originally this was associated with Nelson Mobile Homes Inc., which was redeveloped in the early 1980s to hold Red Lobster. Red Lobster at 813 Texas Avenue South, Red Lobster opened under the General Mills restaurant group. The seafood restaurant was one of the first sit-down chain restaurants (other than Luby's Cafeteria and Western Sizzlin') in the area, and even then, neither of those were full-service.

It's difficult to get a front picture of the Red Lobster-turned-Lupe Tortilla. (Picture by author, 3/2019)

Around 1996-1997, the site was purchased to be redeveloped as a modern power center, with both Ladies & Lords and Computer Access getting evicted (Ladies & Lords never reopened). Computer Access relocated to 1418 Texas Avenue South. The Red Lobster site was kept and incorporated into the new development, with parking restriped. From north to south, the center contains several "big box stores". Barnes & Noble Booksellers opened first in 1997 at 711 Texas Avenue South. Remarkably, the facade hasn't seen much changes since 1997 with not much interior changes either...though the merchandise mix over the years has left much to be desired.

Office Depot next door (715 Texas Avenue S.) opened in 1998. 717 Texas Avenue #A opened as Card & Party Factory in 2001 (moving from Post Oak Village) and closed around 2016; this later became Five Below in 2018 with a new facade. Suite B was originally Golf Etc. (2001-2011) and later became Overlanders, a spin-off of The Bear Mountain of Waco. It became The Bear Mountain Outdoor Gear two years later, and after ownership changed in 2017 (still keeping the name, presumably licensed), it closed in 2018 as it was upgraded to an Ace Hardware at Park Place Plaza. Now it is home to The Cellar Wine & Spirits (since at least 2022). Next to it is "And Sew On" at 719, Aggie Nails & Spa at 721, Kung Fu Tea at 723, and Freezing Cow Rolling Ice Cream at 725. Best Buy at 801 Texas Avenue opened in 1999.

I should note that the in-line spaces might've been renumbered at one point: from 1998 to 2001 there was a Jamba Juice in the center (originally known as Zuka Juice, acquired and rebranded) but records show it having an address of "727 Texas Avenue # C5", though likely it is where Freezing Cow is today. Baskin-Robbins was there too briefly (at 723) and I believe it became KaleidoScoops around 2000 like the Parkway Square location (but closed soon after), becoming Hobbytown USA for several years. Best Buy (801 Texas) is at the end, and goes through mild remodels now and then, I remember it going from carpet to tile and back again (or was it the other way around?)

Best Buy has been here for a number of years (Picture by author, 3/19)
In addition to the new Five Below, Red Lobster moved out in 2008 to 1200 University Drive East and was and after a few years of vacancy it was reopened under Lupe Tortilla in spring 2012, which largely kept the exterior.

UPDATE 02-16-2024: Rewrite that incorporates pre-1997 tenants. Renamed to "Lone Star Pavilion and the Former Red Lobster". Added [1960s] to post.