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.