Friday, August 14, 2020

Former Black-eyed Pea

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.