Friday, December 25, 2020

Former Valero at Holleman and Wellborn

Pore Jud's is Daid (Picture by author, 12/15/20)

The Valero at Holleman and Wellborn was demolished this month. The original convenience store at the station at 1011 Wellborn, dating back to at least 1993 was Jud's Food Stores out of Brenham. The station was built in 1989 as per BCAD but Jud's Food Stores was established in 1990, so depending on when the station opened, it may or may not have had that name. In fact, by the time the station opened, it was Jud's Food Stores #9. The first four stores were located in Brenham, with store 5 being in Seguin (2999 North Highway 123 Bypass) and 6 at 701 East Pierce Street in Luling. (This indicates that stores one through eight were older rebranded stations).

In any case, 1011 Wellborn was originally branded as an Exxon and remained that way for years. It also had a drive-through car wash and when I was younger it was occasionally used by my folks. I believe this was because there was a deal where you could use for free or very cheaply if you purchased gas, but at some point in the late 1990s this was dropped.

In 2000, the station was expanded with U Wash, which opened at the same address (though technically, the address by BCAD's number was 1001 Wellborn) and same ownership. U Wash was a self-serve car wash with several docks and was accessible only through the Exxon's parking lot. More change would come to the station a few years later, when it became a Valero in the mid-2000s (2006?). This Valero came slightly before the local Diamond Shamrock conversions to my memory, and was the first time I saw such a station.

Sometime around the same time of the Valero conversion, the convenience store became "Cross Roads Corner Store Aggieland" (the signage where Jud's was, on the left side of the door, was whited out). From then on, the station didn't see much activity in the station. The station did add Krispy Krunchy fried chicken inside in 2016 but this wasn't well advertised (not even on the outside of the store). However, U Wash was later closed and torn down within a few years of that without much fanfare, signifying (if subtly) that things were coming to an end.

In any case, I found in December that the Valero had removed the prices from the sign (though it was not covered in any way), with the gas station store emptied of merchandise, though the power was sill connected, given how the Monster and Coca-Cola coolers were still glowing. The drive-through car wash also had not been gutted yet. The whole thing looked as if it might reopen as something else, or at least be weeks away from being torn down.

Not so much—when I got around to it a few days later, the canopy was gone, the sign was gone, and Jud's wasn't much more than a foundation. (The car wash was still intact but gutted).

The rumor mill states that the corner of Holleman and Wellborn will be the home of a new McDonald's restaurant, moving from the corner of Marion Pugh and George Bush as part of the underpass construction. Unfortunately, this almost certainly means that the new restaurant will be a soulless brown building with silver accents rather than an example of the slightly nicer restaurants McDonald's was building/renovating with in the early 2000s, as the current restaurant is.

Merry Christmas!

UPDATE 04-06-2021: Took out the other Jud's Food Stores mention, as it looks like the numbers were wrong, and they reused #7. Maybe if we ever do Brenham-related stuff, it might be worth a mention. Either way, College Station was the largest market Jud's settled in.
UPDATE 11-30-2021: McDonald's has been confirmed for the site, at least one half of it.
UPDATE 10-2-2023: In or around September 30, 2023, McDonald's opened at the site, replacing the location at George Bush Drive and Marion Pugh.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Burger Mojo, University Drive East

Burger Mojo doesn't have parking lot access from University Drive East, but neither did the previous tenant. (Picture by author. 7/29/20)

Yes, I know it has been a few months since the last update but this site is not yet dead. I actually have been making a few piecemeal updates here and there, and after evaluating the scenario, I will probably still post articles on this site rather than my own site (Carbon-izer), especially as 200+ articles seemed impractical to move. The "new" Bryan-College Station page includes several "street listings" with addresses in order, and hopefully contain some of the "less interesting" addresses that aren't much more than a photo and a brief blurb of information. (There are a number of recent "filler" posts like that on the blog).

Today's subject is 209 University Drive East.

The previous building here was a 1977-built office building that was essentially two connected octagons with a center portion connecting them. There were four suites, and each tenant got a floor of one of the octogons, with the center portion having access to all four (the upper level tenants had staircases, like an apartment building). Here's what the building looked like, with it last tenant, Lovan Animal Care, moving out at the end of end of 2015. (One of the other tenants that was there was "Hypnotik Salon & Tan", this left a year or two prior). This was part of the redevelopment of the block that included (but had nothing to do with) the Embassy Suites next door.

Note that the Google Maps Street View has a stone facade on the first level, that was actually a renovation over the original facade, which was mostly wood (which it was as of 2007).

Plans were to redevelop the site as a strip mall with Marco's Pizza and Dunkin' Donuts back in 2016, but ultimately they moved on, with Marco's Pizza going in near Tarrow, and Dunkin' settling in near Deacon and Wellborn (and as of this writing, is wildly popular, with cars still lining up well after dark). Instead it was developed (and opened in December 2019) as Burger Mojo, a new fast casual hamburger concept by the Eccell Group.

Even in a time where restaurants have really gotten screwed over recently, Burger Mojo has announced a second location, at a former Wendy's restaurant at Holleman and Harvey Mitchell Parkway South (and some big news with that, check it out).

Monday, October 26, 2020

Outback Steakhouse

The front area used to have a lot more plants in the front.

Near the entrance to Target and the Manuel Drive stoplight (though a stoplight was not installed until around 2004) is an Outback Steakhouse, a chain restaurant that has been in College Station since its opening around 1993, and one of the handful of local restaurants my family ate at growing up, probably because it was kid-friendly and had a children's menu (the "Joey Menu") complete with a coloring book and crayons.

The building has seen some minor modifications over the years. A new semi-enclosed area was built at some point, and the building was repainted from white to pale green before a significant re-do in 2017 when it was repainted tan and brick red (with the roof repainted black), removing "Steakhouse" from the lettering, as well as removing the palm trees in front of the building.

It also went through an interior update at some point, though the basics (black ceiling tiles, bar area in the center) still remain. I think it was this time when they actually added proper restroom signs (with braille) in addition to the novelty "Blokes" and "Sheilas" signs.

There was a time when Outback Steakhouse was one of the more popular restaurants in town, and in the mid-2000s, before the restaurants along University Drive East really took off but while the university was still growing, lines would sometimes stretch out the door, but that's been gone for a while now, as is the sidewalk that used to be much longer toward the road (though the Texas Avenue widening did make it more street-friendly).

UPDATE 04-25-2024: Quick maintenance-related updates.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Clayton's Restaurant / Captain's Table

Captain's Table, the second restaurant here, was only open on weekends in October 1974. Bad sign? (Ad from The Eagle)

Clayton's Restaurant opened around 1957 at 2900 South Texas Avenue, and from copies seem to be a family restaurant not particularly specializing in anything based on this 1960s ad copy.

Clayton's had a big menu, but I doubt that most of it was all that good.

In the early 1970s, Clayton's closed and Captain's Table opened in April 1973 in its place, which was a more upscale restaurant with steak and seafood options (among others), including a full bar on the premises. Captain's Table featured a hexagon-shaped road sign that would survive for many years.

In mid-1977 Captain's Table abruptly closed, from still scheduling events in its banquet rooms in April 1977 to a "complete liquidation" of the property by June of 1977. In November 1977, it reopened as First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Bryan, setting a precedent for banks in the building from then to the modern day. While I can't find much on the interim years of the restaurant-turned-bank, by 2005 (nearly 30 years after it had stopped serving food), the bank was now State Bank, which was acquired and rebranded as Prosperity Bank in 2006 with other branches in the area.

If I recall, when I first started driving in the area around late 2010 (going to Blinn, of course), Prosperity Bank had closed its location here in favor of a nearby location, and The First Bank & Trust began renovations on it, altering and modernizing the facade (mostly adding a new overhang) and getting rid of the distinctive hexagon-shaped sign in favor of a traditional rectangle one.

In late 2019, The Bank & Trust was acquired by First Financial Bank, causing it to be rebranded to the First Financial Bank name. As of this writing, however, Google Maps Street View still has the default view as its First Bank & Trust iteration.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Holiday Inn Bryan

Before its ill-fated life as apartments, the Holiday Inn became an independent motel.

While we have discussed the College Station Holiday Inn in the past (and recently updated it with a new restaurant ad with delicious-sounding entrees) Bryan's Holiday Inn began construction in 1964 and presumably opened in 1965. From what I can tell, it was a fairly standard Holiday Inn of the mid-1960s, all exterior-entranced rooms, swimming pool in the courtyard (which appears to be still functional today, if operated seasonally), and equipped with a small restaurant/coffee shop and meeting rooms. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, it co-existed with the Holiday Inn in College Station (with this hotel being dubbed as the Holiday Inn North in listings). In the late 1980s, it briefly became "The Bryan Inn", though had ditched the restaurant inside the motel. From there, however, the fortunes of the hotel changed. It fell into the hands of Leonard Ross' holdings, and like the former Ramada Inn was converted into private dorms (and listed under "Furnished Apartments" in the phone book), going under the name "The Forum" through the 1990s, and by the mid-2000s had shut down entirely.

Remarkably, in the late 2000s, the building managed to reopen as a Travelodge despite minimal remodeling done (and even getting the Travelodge name to begin with, how the mighty have fallen), but trouble soon surfaced when Rossco Holdings defaulted on loans. Not too long after, the hotel changed hands again and became University Inn.

Here's the Google Street View of the motel today.

UPDATE 12-29-2023: University Inn closed in 2022. ([defunct] added).

Monday, August 17, 2020

Aggieland Credit Union, Southwest Parkway East

There used to be a sign outside used to feature an electronic display featuring the time and temperature, but today no longer has the electronic component.

Not too much to say about Aggieland Credit Union here at 201 Southwest Pkwy. East beyond opening in 1997. They used to (maybe they still do, but I haven't been inside for a while now for obvious reasons) have pictures of almost every Aggie Bonfire going back years, though there was never a Bonfire after 1998 due to the 1999 collapse. Pictures in this post by author, 6/20.

Editor's Note: I'm going to try to take a brief break after this to get my thoughts back in order, mostly because I don't want to keep posting filler. While I do have some new posts planned, I'm going to focus on closed-down or otherwise defunct businesses, with more love and attention given to Bryan.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Former Subway on Southgate

I think I can see remnants of BOTH logos! (Picture by author, 8/20)

Yesterday, I discovered that the Subway on George Bush Drive (Southgate, at Montclair) closed for good, so this is hot off the presses as far as this blog is concerned. I don't know the backstory of 330 George Bush (originally 330 Jersey), but I try my best here. From what I can find, in 1956, it was the home of Pruitt's Fabrics (moved down a few spaces fairly early on, although dropped "Fabrics" in recent years). By the early 1960s it was Fugate-Davidson Printers.

This is from the 1963 A&M Consol vs. Del Valle Football Program on Project HOLD. I just cleaned it up a bit.

An oral history transcript mentions that Fugate shut down that location and moved "back to the house" in 1970 before selling out in 1973, this house presumably being at or near where Fish Richard's was located.

In 1988, it became Beef 'N Brew (which did not seem to have been related to "Beef & Brew", where The Tap is today, nearly a decade earlier). By late 1991, it was Subway, and Subway it would be for a number of years afterward. The (many) Subway stores around town are operated by Centex Subway, and from working at the stores at one time, most of them do marginal business. The COVID-19 problems (especially related to students on campus and around town) wiped out a lot of business, with the Southgate store being hit particularly hard, and after a temporary closure, was made permanent.

I can't find most of the tenant history, with only the notes where Beef N Brew's application suggesting it was part of Rother's (next door) at one time (and indeed, the property lines for the business include the former Rother's next door and what is now Good Bull BBQ).

For the purposes of blog organization, I'm going to assume the building dates back to the 1940s but I don't have any hard proof of that.

UPDATE 05-24-2021: Subway opened in fall 1991, shortly after Beef 'N Brew (which was not related to the former business at The Tap) officially closed earlier that year. This has been appended in the main article.
UPDATE 02-10-2024: In 2022 it became "FNL Nutrition" (sold juices, smoothies, etc.) which also occupied the Good Bull BBQ space next door. It ended up closing by fall 2023.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Former Black-eyed Pea

The old restaurant has since been demolished and replaced with a hotel. (Picture by author, June 2020).

From what I can tell from newspapers, the Black-eyed Pea restaurant opened in early 1991 at 201 University Drive East (though based on "last six months" from an April 1991 paper, it could have been late 1990). I'm pretty sure I've eaten there at least once, evidenced by some of the kid's menu cups that kicked around my parents' house for many years following (before the designs faded out), but despite being a moderately-priced chain, it was never on the regular rotation.

It closed in January 2006, before the rest of the chain melted down in late 2016 (not counting the independently-owned Colorado restaurants). After closure, the restaurant sat vacant for about three years before a series of Chinese buffets took it over. E-star Chinese Buffet opened in early 2009, then Great Wall Deluxe Chinese Buffet less than a year later, followed by "88 Sichuan Bistro" by 2013, then another name (Ocean Buffet), then Asia Star by late 2014. Most of these were probably just of the "clean up after Health Department shut down and reopen", because the place was constantly getting shut down due to terrible health reviews (roaches, moldy food, etc.)

Eventually Asia Star folded and it and other houses (rentals) on the block were all torn down (likely early 2016) for an Embassy Suites hotel (seven stories) and a parking garage, which opened October 2017. The hotel (like the restaurant) has no access from University Drive East proper but has access from Jane Street (like the restaurant) and Eisenhower Street.

The Embassy Suites by College Station has seven stories, five meeting rooms, and 162 guest rooms. One thing that has carried over to its new use as a hotel is including a restaurant (Saber Bar & Grill), though it isn't advertised (as hotels used to do locally) to the greater community. 

UPDATE 03-28-2021: Despite the April 1991 newspaper article referring to Black-eyed Pea opening in the "last six months", new additional evidence has suggested that Black-eyed Pea did in fact open in 1991, likely January 1991.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Former Academy Sports + Outdoors

From March 2019, by author. Yes, I know I covered this over a year ago.

In February 2002, Academy Sports + Outdoors opened a new location at Horse Haven Lane and Earl Rudder Freeway, either just prior to or after the closure of College Station Golf Center, a driving range off of the highway (for more information, see "At Home" on the Boriskie Ranch).

Academy was where I purchased much of my clothes and shoes over the years (never was a sharp dresser) but there was nothing particularly nostalgic about this location, especially given how much the new Academy resembles the old store on the inside.

For years, the store "competed" against the Gander Mountain next door, but eventually would close just as the Redmond Terrace location before it, with the store closing in June 2017 (a new store, about three-quarters of a mile south, replaced it). The store remains vacant, except for the occasional Halloween store that occupies it.

Editor's Note: A reason this post is spinning off from the At Home post is to separate the posts and partially so MasFajitas can have its own page someday.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Ponderosa Motor Inn

The motel hugs the freeway tightly. (Picture by author, 7/20)

Ponderosa Motor Inn first opened in 1971 at the intersection of Ponderosa Road and State Highway 6 (3702 Highway 6 South), citing the highway's presence and the continued growth of the city in that direction, both of which were true. While the motel had a restaurant, private club, and meeting rooms, all of which were standard in motels modeled after the standards that the growing Holiday Inn chain pioneered in the 1950s and 1960s, it was very isolated from just about anything, about two miles from the nearest commercial establishments on Texas Avenue (near modern-day Holleman), and a few years before even the Southwood Valley area began to take off, which would see new development, such as Kmart and Doux Chene Apartments within a few years.

As a testament to the old age of the property, some mercury-vapor lights still hang. It wasn't nearly as green as my camera it thought it was.

Ponderosa Motor Inn soon built an addition to the main two-story building and another building out back with additional rooms facing east and west, and for the next three decades it would be the furthest south motel/hotel in the city until Navasota. It wasn't until 2001, when Courtyard by Marriott built a hotel at Woodcreek Road and the Highway 6 frontage road, ending the motel's dominance as the furthest south hotel, and unlike the motel, was a true hotel with interior corridors. By that time, the area that Ponderosa had once been alone in was starting to get rather built-up, and it wasn't slowing down.

The hotel changed hands a few times (though it remained as Ponderosa Motor Inn until around the early 1990s), and after a brief time as "Varsity Inn", the motel became Howard Johnson Express. At some point, the hotel restaurant became an independently owned Mexican restaurant, Mi Familia Coco Loco.

When the motel became Americas Best Value Inn, the hotel used its new logo on the outside, but still had the older style of room numbers.

In 2016, the "second building" was torn down, and, after about two years or so of construction, a four-story Microtel Inn (or rather, "Microtel by Wyndham") was built in its place. The final product was outlined in blue neon, giving it a unique appearance but also unfortunately similar to the sleazier hotels along Houston freeways. Sometime around the time Microtel was completed, the original motel was rebranded as Americas Best Value Inn (a different owner than what Microtel and Howard Johnson's belonged to). Perhaps the Microtel will get an article of its own someday.

View of Microtel from the parking lot

It should be noted that today, Ponderosa's location is not that well located off of the freeway. Prior to the mid-2000s, you could access Ponderosa through the two-way frontage road it was on by exiting Rock Prairie from either end, and today is probably best worked through the back but in the early days (before the freeway lanes were extended down by 1991), Ponderosa turned into the northbound frontage road (two way) and turning left directly into Ponderosa was an option!

Note the southbound frontage roads were not complete at this point.

UPDATE 10-24-2023: In July 2023, the motel completed a renovation and rebranded as Hotel McCoy (see archive link). I also discovered something interesting. The original logo of Ponderosa Motor Inn, which you can see below in a 1980 phone book completely identical to the Ponderosa Motor Inn in Shamrock, Texas. I don't know the fate of the Shamrock location, but it's very likely the two motels were once related.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

One-o-One Grove

The Amtrak platforms STILL stand on the other side of the railroad, but 101 Grove is totally gone.

Even fairly late into the planning process of this page, I had considered this making this a multi-subject post to cover the other buildings demolished at the same time, including 100 George Bush apartments, Equity Real Estate (which was built around 1997-ish), the Unitarian Universalist church, and 101 Grove. Of these, I only had real interest in covering 101 Grove and Equity Real Estate, except I lack any pictures of the latter and my experiences with renting an apartment with Equity were less than stellar.

One of the reasons I'm bringing up this is so I could also bring up LoTrak, which is one of the "hidden sub-pages" of the blog. Had it been constructed, 101 Grove might have died that much sooner.

101 Grove first opened as Jazzercise Exercise Studio in 1984, a warehouse-like building (I seem to remember it having gray metal siding), and I believe they held this into around 1999 until the Northgate McDonald's was reconstructed, without a basement. At this point, a huge Golden Arches sign was erected on the building, facing Wellborn, and the McDonald's Training Center was born, which also seemed to have been the main headquarters for the local stores. Unfortunately, in 2002, the local McDonald's franchise retired, and so went the McDonald's sign. A few years later, the building was completely renovated inside and out, with stucco, windows, awnings, and a mural on the north side. Initially named "One-o-One Grove", by 2007, it was the home of Ellis Custom Homes, but a few other tenants were there as well, including Larsen Insurance, and (as of summer 2007), P. Dallas Construction Co., though it was largely a one-man landscaping operation.

By 2019, the property had been bought by TxDOT and leveled, with the parking lot stub cut off and everything neatly removed. I returned in August 2020 to take these pictures, but as you can see, there's nothing left!

"Nothing remains...but memories!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Military Depot

You can barely make out the EAS (from Eastgate) here, but I think the shadow next to it was from Military Depot, not its predecessor tenants (May 2014).

Military Depot was on the short list in 2017 ("Season 3") and probably would have come after "At Home" on the Boriskie Ranch but as that post describes, things happened and it got shelved (it got close enough to have a post mostly written up). This post is intended to replace the the big Eastgate post.

105 Walton started out as a UtoteM, with a 1961 aerial appearing to show it under construction and a 1967 article mentioning it was going to 24 hour service (which must have been rare at the time, even 7-Eleven had only experimented with 24 hour stores in Dallas-Fort Worth and Las Vegas) and continuing to do so until the chain was bought and rebranded as Circle K in 1984. By the late 1980s, the convenience store changed hands to become Eastgate Food Store (Circle K's absorption of the outdated UtoteM stores ultimately proved to be a mistake, and by 1990 it would file for bankruptcy, with major market exits coming soon after). Some time around the early 1990s ('92-'93), Eastgate Food Store closed up shop entirely and Military Depot (which had previously been at Post Oak Mall) moved in soon after.

The 1992 date sounds right for the last time Eastgate Food Store saw the light of day, you can see it listed as part of this 1992 streetscape study:

There's also a green roofed building next to it that held a few tenants years ago, including Robinson Pet Clinic in 1989, but it's been vacant for a number of years now. The picture was taken in May 2014 with no activity since.

Here's another view of the sign, from May 2014.

Editor's Note: So Blogger is pushing out a new update that is due to go "full" in less than three weeks (as in, the old one no longer operational). It's slow, cumbersome to go through post archives, makes adding labels to posts much harder, et cetera.

The end result is that unless things change (unlikely), I'm going to move forward on an idea that until recently was a fairly drastic functionally shut down and move it to Carbon-izer in the style of my existing Waco page, except with a nicer layout, and some newly updated pages (an idea of updating almost every existing page was in the works). It means that while the blog format will be going away, the content won't...the Facebook page will continue to update, the Maps page will continue to update, and even the "comments" page might continue--though again, comments were a failure for the most part, and having a robust comments area like Columbia Closings or some of the retail blogs I still frequented when I created this site, would never happen.

Sadly, this also means that some other of the blog's features, like being able to locate all the buildings under a similar category, like all the [hotels and motels], will be gone. The new posts will be arranged by neighborhood and will be undated (besides, all the old posts, like 2013 and prior, are so extensively modified that they hardly resemble their original incarnations).

In the meantime, new pages will continue to appear on this site.

Sunday, August 2, 2020


Goodbye to a Northgate icon (Picture taken April 2020).

First mentioned in the long-outdated 104-115 College Main page (still up but being dismantled), I had personally never stepped foot in Sarge's, rather appreciating it as a Northgate staple that was part of Northgate itself. At this rate, Sarge's will probably be replaced with yet another nightclub that will just be an eyesore during the daytime.

Sarge's with its neighbors, 2013.

Operating from May 1984 to the end of May 2020, Sarge's was an army surplus store (at least originally) that operated as a Corps of Cadets supply store, including sabers and Corps boots (before TAMU also started selling them). From 1975 to until the early 1980s, University Frame Shop operated at 109 College Main. This store, same ownership as Theo's Gallery at Culpepper Plaza, featured, according to a 1980 ad, not only "custom and ready made frames" but also "New York graphic reproductions" and "limited edition prints & original art".

The building's earlier history (which dated back to the 1930s) is harder to determine. It seems that in the early days (late 1930s), Houston Street and College Main was named Bell (Bell Street?), with the Houston Street portion on campus taking the 1xx addresses and Northgate taking the 2xx addresses; however, other renumbering has taken place and placing the College Main businesses is difficult. Based on that information, it can be inferred that "Jones Barber" and "Wilson Beauty" operated here but more information needs to be acquired before an accurate chronology can be created.

UPDATE 04-24-2024: In fall 2022 a candy (and snow cones, it looked like) store called "Sugar Babies" opened. It seemed to be open as of December 2023 but as of April 2024 it seemed to be closed up shop even during a busy weekday with lots of foot traffic, even though there was merchandise inside. They have a website but all pages were marked with an ominous "Our store is not currently accepting orders."

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Jack in the Box, Texas Avenue, Bryan

The Box is back after an extensive rebuild.

The sister store to the College Station Jack in the Box further down Texas Avenue, 2906 South Texas Avenue's Jack in the Box was built in 1977 (#675), before the chain's dramatic makeover that dropped the "clown head" speakers and started to push a more "adult", upscale menu.

While the picture at the aforementioned post looks like this one before rebuilding around early 2019 (picture taken in March 2020), the picture here is the one that the College Station one also looks like now. As of this writing, the most recent Google Street View shows the old Jack in the Box building.

The construction also ditched the entrance off of Villa Maria for a new one to Maloney, but it's a moot point since medians installed since 2016 on Villa Maria make access difficult anyway.

UPDATE 01-27-2022: As part of putting this on Facebook in 2022 about a year and a half after the post was made and put in the queue, Google Street View has been updated here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Jimmy Jackson's Enco, 3000 South Texas Avenue

Nothing remains of the first Jimmy Jackson's Exxon but a rather standard Eckerd-turned-CVS. (Photo by author, 3/20)

Built in the 1960s at 3000 South Texas Avenue, "Jackson's Enco" eventually became Jimmy Jackson's Exxon (in the early 1970s, Standard Oil of New Jersey renamed to Exxon to unify the Esso and Enco brands), and by the early 1980s, gained a second entrance when Restwood Drive was rebuilt as an extension of Villa Maria Road. The gas station was eventually sold to focus on the College Station location and in 1998, an Eckerd was built at the site and eventually converted (around late 2004) to CVS/pharmacy when parent company J.C. Penney decided to liquidate the chain.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Aggieland Credit Union, 501 University Drive (Sulphur Springs Road)

One of my pictures from 2013.

From various sources, this building (501 University, formerly 501 Sulphur Springs Road) was opened in 1950 as a bank, the College Station State Bank, which moved down (what is now) University Drive in 1962 to a new location. This new location eventually was torn down for a skyscraper with the bank (by this point, BB&T) eventually moving in on the ground level. The original location of the bank survived, however, and is still a bank of sorts today.

After College Station State Bank moved out, the Presbyterian Student Center opened in the spot. By 1972, it was serving as The Answer (The Answer is Jesus Christ Inc.), a Christian counseling center. In the early 1980s, The Answer folded and Pizza Hut moved in. Apparently, PepsiCo (or the local Pizza Hut franchise) believed that the Pizza Hut just on the other side of Texas Avenue was doing well enough that a second location closer to Northgate would be a good business decision, and, from the early 1980s to early 1990s, a Pizza Hut occupied the space.

One of the few 501 University-as-Pizza Hut photos that exist (Project HOLD)

In 1994, the building reopened as Aggieland Credit Union, and has been so ever since.

Editor's Note: I'm currently experimenting with a new title format, let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

University Flowers

Taken way back in May 2014 by author

University Flowers has been here at 1049 Texas Avenue South since at least 1980 and all indications show that the building was built in the 1970s and opened as the flower shop. In the late 2000s, a "store-within-a-store", BCS Gold & Jewelry, opened at the site. It has common ownership and the same address (even the vehicles UF drives around has both names on it), but a different phone number.

Editor's Note: With a new schedule carved out of the wreckage of the three "series" posts, I now have a plan going forward. That does include, of course, filler posts, like this one I've had since 2014, taken with other Eastgate photos.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Olive Garden's Original Location

In real life Italy, unlimited breadsticks are not a thing.

Besides marketing its food products in all the area grocery stores, General Mills brought two restaurants to the Bryan-College Station through its General Mills Restaurant Group subsidiary, Red Lobster in 1983 and Olive Garden a decade later. (The other two significant concepts at the time, Good Earth, and China Coast, never made it to the area, though the latter briefly saw Waco and Houston).

Neither my articles on Hastings or H-E-B Pantry mention Olive Garden, which sat at the corner of Texas Avenue and Holleman Drive from 1993 to 2004. The old Olive Garden met its fate when it burned down in a fire, and what was left of the building was declared a total loss.

In January or February 2005, a new Olive Garden opened at University Drive East and Earl Rudder Freeway, and by October 2005, two new buildings rose at the former Olive Garden site, a Chase bank (replacing the 2000 Texas Avenue South address), and a second building (2002 Texas Avenue South) holding Jimmy John's and Men's Wearhouse (Google Street View link). The Jimmy John's closed in late summer 2019 for reasons unknown but by that time, a Jimmy John's was operating at Rock Prairie Crossing and near Texas and University Drive East. Of course, Jimmy John's at the latter location has a somewhat interesting backstory, and that will be covered soon enough...

The ad is from the mid-1990s, before it introduced its newer logo (dropping "The" and adding what appeared to be a bunch of grapes to the logo) around 1999 (replaced in 2014 but still seen on many restaurants).

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Former Taco Villa

Let's taco 'bout this vacant building.

The former RadioShack at 614 East Villa Maria Road goes back over 40 years. In June 1977, the building first opened as a Taco Villa restaurant (notice the picture) and remained as such for nearly a decade following.

One directory edition from the mid-1980s lists it as a Del Taco, which was odd as while the Texas franchisee of Del Taco did buy Taco Villa but indications were that the owner at the time (a subsidiary of W.R. Grace) wanted to convert the Del Taco restaurants it owned to Taco Villa (to avoid licensing fees), not the other way around.

In 1988, W.R. Grace liquidated Del Taco and Taco Villa, with the restaurant closing with the Houston stores, including this one (indications that Taco Villa did live on, and today operates stores in West Texas and New Mexico, though I'm not 100% sure they are the same chain).

By the early 1990s, it became a Quick as a Flash (likely a facade re-do/repaint happened around this time) and in 1999, it was still a Quick as a Flash location (the directory for that year lists "Back in a Flash", which was a similarly-named operation focused on film processing located inside the AppleTree stores and the College Station Kroger). The directory error also lends credence to the fact that the restaurant was never branded as Del Taco.

At some point, like the sister store in College Station it went under the Ritz Camera name, though it was probably a Ritz Portrait Studio like the other store. I'm not sure when it closed, probably early 2000s.

The back of the store still has some original stucco, giving clues to what the original Taco Villa looked like.

RadioShack, the last known tenant, moved in after the redevelopment of Sul-Mar Center at Villa Maria and Briarcrest around 2006-2007, where it had been previously been homed there since 1971 (originally opened as "Allied Radio Shack", a short-lived branding of the chain when parent company Tandy Corporation owned Allied Electronics). In 2015, Tandy Corporation (renamed RadioShack Corp. in 2000 to focus on its core business) went bankrupt and most of the corporate-owned stores closed. The corporate stores that weren't closed were converted to Sprint/RadioShack co-branded stores under new company General Wireless. Unfortunately, the partnership with Sprint dissolved with the bankruptcy of General Wireless two years later, closing the Sprint/RadioShack stores (including this one). The closure of this meant that RadioShack officially exited the Bryan-College Station market, and today, the closest brick-and-mortar RadioShack store is in Brenham (which is a franchised store).

All pictures here are by the author, March 2020.

UPDATE 02-04-21: A revisit to the area shows that this has now reopened as Fred Loya Insurance. Two tags ([Series: Closed & Closing] and [defunct]) have been removed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dixie Chicken

Wish I could get the picture from BEFORE the barrier was put in, but it is what it is. (Picture taken 4/20 by author).

Other than the big "Northgate post" written several years back (and then eventually removed as part of website upgrades), I never saw fit to really cover Dixie Chicken on Northgate all that much. It was never a place with nostalgic value, never went to it as a kid (for obvious reasons!), and it never changed either, which would give it the allure of documenting it for future generations.

The Dixie Chicken started in 1974 when Don Ganter bought a pool hall that had only been around for a few years (estimated to be built in the late 1960s) called the Aggie Den (at 307 University). From some forum threads, you could buy or sell old issues of Playboy, view vintage pornography on (based on how it was described) microfiche, smoke (a no-brainer, everyone smoked inside back in the day), and play pool. The walls were covered with half-naked pictures of movie stars. Don Ganter converted the pool hall to a bar and changed the appearance to, as ESPN writer Scott Eden once wrote, "a honky-tonk as dreamed up by the Disney people who designed Frontierland".

The bar expanded in the early 1980s by adding a kitchen to serve food, and eventually, combining a building next door. This building was even older (from the mid-1950s), with the last tenant being Miranda's, a fern bar. This too was converted to the Dixie Chicken's d├ęcor, the exterior entrance covered up and the only major remnant of being it was a painting not covered up by wood (near the snake cage).

Miranda's is visible; source unknown

309 University had its own history. The earliest I can find (1963) shows it as being a location of Loupot's Trading Post, long before it moved into its iconic location at the corner of College Main and University. It was vacant in 1972 (shortly before Dixie Chicken's opening) and as of 1978, it was Farkelberry's Domino and Pool Parlor. There may be a few others I may be missing.

Editor's Note: Future posts in the [Series: University Drive] will skip around somewhat, so next cycle's post will not be about Duddley's Draw, and instead go further down University. Also, as per the last article, a number of entries were upgraded with new photos, tenants, and advertisements. These details will be revealed in future installments.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Former Mechanics Unlimited

There hasn't been much activity here in years.

Mechanics Unlimited was the last known business at 102 Lincoln, which was briefly covered on what was originally called "Mobil & Mechanics", a post published back in 2014. As of this writing, this post has been removed from the Index to be rewritten and updated.

102 Lincoln was likely built in the 1940s (according to what I can find, the city estimates it was built in the 1940s, and it was definitely in the 1960 aerial) and sits on a tiny lot. Known as "Murphy's Garage" in old listings, the building hasn't changed much in at least six years. When I photographed the building in 2014, you could see the the maroon-painted plywood that boarded up the garage doors, as well as some of the maroon paint that was once on the bricks. If I recall, these had been painted maroon after Mechanics Unlimited (which was painted on the outside of the facade) closed (which I recall closing in the early 2000s, though can find little proof of it except in this 1990s-era listing).

Looking inside, there's remnants from Stratta Auto Repair next door.

The pictures seen that aren't linked are the ones taken in June 2020.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Former Red Lobster

It wasn't a red, it was a Red Lobster! (Picture by author, 6/20)

The current COVID-19 pandemic has done a number on local restaurants, and one of the victims appears to be the local Red Lobster at 1200 University Drive East. Opened in spring 2008 at the corner of Lincoln and University Drive East and replacing their 1983 location at Lincoln and Texas Avenue, the Red Lobster updated their logo in the early 2010s (2013) to their 2009 logo instead of the one they've had since the mid-1990s.

The restaurant was reported in late June 2020 to be locked out for non-payment of rent, and while some barriers have been put up to prevent vandalism/theft, I don't see the restaurant reopening. Also I apologize for the quality of the photos, it was taken when the sun was at a low angle, and I had to do some weird things to the photos to make them viewable.

All of the handicapped spaces were converted to to-go spots. I'm not sure this was actually legal.

GMRI Inc. is the corporate name of the original Red Lobster/Olive Garden group, descended from the original Red Lobster Inns of America, Inc. and named after the General Mills Restaurant group...though Red Lobster was spun off several years ago.

UPDATE 05-04-2022: According to KBTX, Austin-based Trudy's Authentic Tex-Mex is coming to the spot, confirming after two years that Red Lobster is gone for good. Parts of the original post have been touched up.
UPDATE 10-06-2023: Rumor is that Trudy's has unfortunately fallen through.
UPDATE 04-23-2024: Reports that Tyler-based Javi's will be opening in the spot.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Dry Bean Saloon

This is the first post to feature the new [Series: University Drive] tag, a new feature I'm trying out that as an official thing, that will allow you to see only the posts in the near future down Northgate (and beyond?!) which I've been doing recently. This won't appear on older posts, but it provides a way to chronologically see (in reverse order, unfortunately) the parts of the site you're interested in. Two other "series" will also be shown in the near future.

In order so far, there has been Handy Burger / The Onion Ring / The Deluxe / Chimy's Cerveceria (203 University), 4.0 & Gone (205-207 University), Aggieland Flowers & Gifts (209 University), and Former Zapatos Cantina (211 University).

Additionally, going further down, there was Northgate Juice Joint (215 University), Shiner Park (217 University), the Chevron on the other side of Boyett (formerly Citgo for years, 301 University), and The Backyard (formerly Fitzwilly's, 303 University). All of these have been updated recently as well.

We now get to Dry Bean Saloon (305 University), which only says Dry Bean on the facade now for reasons unknown.

Unfortunately, until I can get to the archives again, I can't give a whole lot of information on the building itself other than the fact that estimates say it was built in the mid-1950s. The 1000 sq. ft. building is thin and narrow, with the building only 13 feet wide, and only open to a 21+ crowd. (I was never a patron of Dry Bean Saloon, for that, there's Yelp).

In the late 1980s and very early 1990s (1990), it was Sticky Chin's Ice Cream Parlor, but in the very early 1990s the owner (Don Ganter of the Dixie Chicken) closed and converted it into the Dry Bean Saloon (which ultimately, by the late 2010s, got a sign that read "Dry Bean").

In 1969, it was Hobby World (before that time is unknown), also known as Hobby World of Texas ("Planes, trains, boats, & rockets"). By 1973, it was Andre's Bicycle Shop. Confusingly, some ads refer to it being at 303 University Drive East (different address). Newspaper ads do confirm it was previously at Northgate Juice Joint's building.

UPDATE 01-04-2021: Removed [Series: University Drive] (aborted) and filled in more details on the building's earlier years.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Former Zapatos Cantina

Before Zapatos Cantina, this was DoubleDave's PizzaWorks. (Photo from Project HOLD)

Once again, we continue the walk down University Drive, and next to the former Aggieland Flowers & Gifts was, for years, Zapatos Cantina at 211 University. Like Bill's next to it, this was once "Don's Barber Shop" in the early 1970s (Building as marked as "1960s", assumed build date). After it served as DoubleDave's PizzaWorks by the 1990s (not the original location--the original-original is now Good Bull BBQ on George Bush Drive), it became Zapatos Cantina, which was a Northgate hangout known for years known for "trash can lid nachos". There's a few other reviews of the old establishment, and even that review predates 2009 (when smoking was banned in bars).

At some point after Bill's at 215 University closed (no 213 University, just an open-air area between the two buildings), Zapatos expanded to that location, until spring 2013, when Zapatos closed. This was almost certainly because of Chimy's Cerveceria opening and providing more space and likely better overall for a similar menu and theme.

Most of the building's recently history has been empty, with only serving briefly (around the middle of the 2010s) as a leasing office for Aspen Heights off of Holleman Drive South, and in fall 2018 opened as The Draconian Lounge.

UPDATE 01-03-21: As part of integrations with the University Drive "City Directory" page (still in its original form as this writing), this building was "Pyramid Audio" in 1980.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Failure of the Micro District

New Republic Brewing Co.'s original location, and later Rio Brazos. (Author's picture, June 2020)

Unlike the other big roads covered on this site, North Dowling Road (or Dowling Road if modern city signs are anything to go by) doesn't have a lot going for it. The two other items on North Dowling Road worth talking about, Former Country Grocery and Wickes Lumber were both covered years ago, and despite some newer development (an RV park, a mini-storage, and a few apartment buildings), North Dowling is relatively empty.

The exception, was, of course, the Aggieland Micro District, an informal name for 11405 North Dowling Road, a collection of warehouses dating back to 1994. The oldest building there is what is now home to Go Dog Customs, but in the early 2010s (and possibly original, as it was there in the late 1990s) was Quality Enterprises. This had the address of 11378 Hickory Road, and was accessed from Hickory Road.

The 11405 North Dowling Road buildings came in-line a few years later, with Unit A and Unit B in one building. Unit B (until fairly recently) was a warehouse for Texas Trading Post, which actually hung out in the links section as part of this website for years because they linked back here (they eventually took out the link, and when I discovered that, I removed theirs). This incarnation of 11405 North Dowling Road did add a connection to North Dowling Road but still had dirt/gravel roads. By 2006, all but the two northern buildings were built, and by 2010, when New Republic Brewing Co. first moved into Unit H, the driveways were paved (with asphalt, and a few years later it became concrete).

New Republic would move to C (and its adjacent space) a few years later, and by late 2015 it had been built up to a small but thriving brewery.

While the Aggieland Micro District was only a modest success, with food trucks and a band playing at NRBC on the liveliest of days, NRBC's attempts to further coordinate with Rio Brazos and Perrine Winery would fail.

The downfall of NRBC would begin would shortly after with the departure of brewmaster and co-founder Dean Brundage leaving for a new venture. An ugly combination of events including the COVID-19 disruption, issues with the landlord, and the departure of co-founder John Januskey would force NRBC to cease production.

When I visited in June 2020 for what I had planned to be my final visit, the brewery was in poor shape. Half of the space had been sealed off (the other half included a makeshift office and lab, and storage space for empty cans and other products). The other half was cleared of tanks, boilers, and canning equipment. Even the loft, where hops and yeast were stored, was being dismantled.

NRBC built up a full outdoor area complete with a stage.

With NRBC fading out and Rio Brazos said to have shut down its taproom, the Micro District appears to be dead with no chance of revival. It's disappointing that the Micro District would only be a footnote, if that, for the history of College Station-Bryan, and return to its original form, a collection of unremarkable warehouses. I suppose it's better that it has some physical memory, as even bigger places have faded away entirely, such as East Orange, Louisiana. Even physical places, of course, hide the time when they were really something. Neither the front office at The Flats on 12 nor the closed-down Tobacco & More suggest they were anything fancy at one time.

The other "Micro District" tenants include Rio Brazos Distillery, a small whiskey/bourbon bottler (largely just one employee, located at Unit H, NRBC's old location), Perrine Winery (a few doors down, opened 2016 after being at Post Oak Village for a few years). The only other retail tenant I can think of there includes Brazos Valley Trash Valet and Recycling at J-1 (opened 2009 after that warehouse section was built). (At Unit F, a business called Absolute Wheel Technologies was operating, but it has since moved out to Highway 30).

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Aggieland Flowers & Gifts

Original from Project HOLD, c. 1994

Aggieland Flowers & Gifts (at one time, at least according to directories, "Aggieland Flowers & Gift Shoppe") has been in the 1965-built 209 University from before 1980 to around 2007, when it moved to the bypass as Aggieland Flowers & Chocolates. After a few years of being empty, it was replaced with The Ranch, which replaced the roof with an upper level area. What I'm not sure about is as of 2012, was the upper level of The Ranch part of The Ranch or was it Schotzi's SkyBarr/Sky Bar as described in the previous post 4.0 & Gone? Furthermore, there's evidence that The Ranch was filed in New Development files as "Aquarium Bar", but it never opened as such.

The conversion to The Ranch came about the time when on-street parking was removed in favor of a wider sidewalk. Sometime by 2015, The Ranch closed and became The 12 Rooftop Bar & Lounge.

UPDATE 01-03-21: As part of integrations with the University Drive "City Directory" page (still in its original form as this writing), Aggieland Flowers has been at this site since at least 1972.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Abandoned Quality Suites

The direct sun hurt this photo, but I think it gets the point across.

I first stumbled upon this hotel (at 3610 Highway 6 South) in fall 2019 to find it closed despite being a fairly modern-looking hotel (it was built in 2005) and on the highway. All the signage was up and graffiti had not yet hit the building, but the high weeds and tattered entryway said otherwise, nor any sign that the hotel would be opening soon (it was removed from the Choice Hotels website). Apparently, the hotel closed by early 2018 (mentioned on Yelp's "Tips" which seem to have disappeared in a recent redesign) due to a flooding problem and it never reopened. At this rate I can't see it reopening as a Quality Suites any time soon, and even without a virus decimating tourist trades, there's a lot of hotel competition that didn't exist when Quality Suites first went up. Despite being on the freeway as well, its access is a bit difficult, either requiring the southbound exit to Texas and staying on the frontage road, or working around Longmire and going back to Ponderosa. There's a good chance that it was planned before the new Rock Prairie exit was made, not only did the old Rock Prairie exit actually allow access to the hotel very easily (even southbound) in 2005, it did not visually obscure it.

According to one of the old Choice Hotel locators I have (from 2007), the hotel has 81 rooms, a swimming pool, exercise room, meeting room, and a few other modest features (like guest laundry).

Even if the hotel industry was better (overbuilding had gotten to be a problem), Quality Suites shows no signs of reopening anytime soon. The card reader on the south entrance has been ripped out, exterior maintenance is slipping, rooms have been dismantled (mattresses leaning up, etc.), and the lobby is trashed. It would not take much to reopen it under a different name, but it requires some work that the current owners have not put in yet. Personally, I'm surprised the high weeds have not gotten the pressure from city code yet.

In terms of placement, this is the very first address (apart from Veronica's Country Corner, an outlier in every sense of the word) that focuses on a Highway 6 address that isn't on the Earl Rudder portion, and the first hotel covered in a while (not since La Quinta).

UPDATE 10-24-2023: In early 2023 this hotel reopened as Wingate by Wyndham. ([defunct] removed).
UPDATE 12-25-2023: I wanted to mention that the hotel is dual-branded as a Hawthorn Suites as well.