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 listing...is 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 option...to functionally shut down csroadsandretail.blogspot.com 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.