Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Fairfield Inn Bryan

Fairfield Inn in August 2021 (by author)

Fairfield Inn opened in 1994 (early plats read "Heritage Inn #1", there's no way to prove that it actually opened as such), which is a budget/economy chain launched by Marriott in the late 1980s to compete with lower-end motels and hotels like Days Inn and Hampton Inn, and has remained since. The hotel, at 4613 S. Texas Avenue, is the furthest south business on Texas Avenue in Bryan (even across the street is College Station).

Of course, the site it sites on has its own history, with two lots originally on the site, 4613 and 4611. 4613 was the first building on the site, opened in 1957 as "U-Pak-M", a small locally-based convenience store. Following a new schedule set forth by a Dallas based convenience store that made the schedule its own gimmick, the store was open from 7 am to 11pm, and had one other location, at 3800 S. College Avenue, which is now Mini Mart (or "Mini Mini Mini Mart"). In the mid-1960s, U-Pak-M closed and became a new restaurant in 1967, the Barbecue Barn. Barbecue Barn would soon become Arnold's Barbecue, and by 1971, was owned by Thomas Beltrand. In 1976, Beltrand changed the name to his own, despite advertising "New Name in New Location", Tom's Barbecue (no "Steakhouse" yet) was the new name of the restaurant. (It would move to 3610 South College Avenue in 1985...and later, open a College Station location).

In 1965, an A&W drive-in restaurant opened at 4611 South Texas Avenue. According to the Facebook group Bryan-College Station, Texas: Now and Then (friend of the blog), the last reference to A&W found in newspapers was November 1975 that mentioned the restaurant needed a new owner. Well, given what was happening to A&W's parent company United Brands at the time, it's no surprise that A&W closed up shop locally!

Wow, it had an eat-in area? That's better than Sonic ever had.

The good news was by that time, United Brands had started a subsidiary to sell bottles and cans of A&W root beer in stores (today owned by Keurig Dr Pepper after it changed hands several times) but the A&W restaurant (separated from the bottling side) would not return to the area until the late 1990s, and then, only briefly.

Unfortunately, at this time, information on what happened to the addresses after the departure of their respective tenants is unknown. This may be explored by a future update.

UPDATE 12-19-2023: In 2023, the hotel was converted to "SureStay by Best Western" (SureStay by Best Western Bryan College Station). No other changes have been made to the post other than removing the link to Marriott's website, which no longer works.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Former Applebee's

Applebee's is gone, but is it truly missed?

For our next few posts, we'll be covering more of the "North of University Drive but south of Bryan" businesses that used to be combined into one post but was cut out in recent years (well, some of them at least). What remained of that post was reassembled as the Econo Lodge post.

Late-night eats weren't that uncommon in the world that was.

As mentioned in the post title, today's post is on the old Applebee's at 200 Texas Avenue South. Applebee's is a chain and needs no further introduction and opened a College Station location in 1994. Applebee's still had the older logo a few years before its closure, and the parking lot connection to Home2 Suites (opened in 2015) gave Applebee's back access to the street formerly known as Meadowland, but I've never actually eaten there, so I have no words to say to about it. Like with the local Fuddruckers (previously covered on this blog), Applebee's was closed with numerous other Applebee's restaurants owned by the franchise during COVID-19, but this one never reopened. It's worth noting that despite some poor reviews of this location (even for Applebee's standards), it was always a bit isolated from the other restaurant clusters.

Hmm, looks like problems were brewing even before March 2020. (The paper on the door is a notice from the city regarding lawnmowing).

Applebee's was built itself on 200 Texas Avenue South, which was the site of Western Motel was there at 204 Texas Avenue. Western Motel was one of the area's earliest motels, built in the mid-1950s and demolished in the early 1990s (likely shutting in the 1980s). One advertisement I could find from a 1980 phone book indicated it was very low end, mentioning only air conditioning, color televisions, AM/FM radios, and of course, weekly rates. Slightly nicer motels of the same time frame were able to offer swimming pools, in-room phones, cable TV, or even a small restaurant/coffee shop (though the motel did have one in its early days in the 1950s and 1960s). Applebee's didn't build on all of the lot, however, and the remaining frontage will be discussed when we get around to Home2 Suites (unfortunately, not in the next few posts!).

Table for none?

All photos in this post were taken by the author, August 2021.

Monday, August 16, 2021


Masfajitas, menos Dickey's. (Picture by author, 8/2021)

Masfajitas (aka MasFajitas) has been listed in the local phone book for years, with (initially) a single location in Caldwell. Only very recently has it opened a native College Station facility, with this one opening in July 2020.

The building was built as Dickey's Barbecue Pit, a hot "barbecue as fast food" franchise that opened many Texas stores around the same time frame. The last commercial development at the old Boriskie Ranch site (see "'At Home' at the Boriskie Ranch", the post this one spun off of) and opening in May 2009 (another article), Dickey's never did particularly well and closed May 31, 2017 (though this website, which tracks closed stores, incorrectly lists it as "4/31/17").

After Dickey's closed, it sat vacant before MasFajitas, which by this time had locations in the Temple-Killeen and Austin areas, announced it would renovate the building and open a store. The renovation ultimately expanded out the building and left very little of the Dickey's facade (at least in front), only the brick part with the stars is original. You can see the original facade at Google Maps Street View and a side view of the building at the aforementioned At Home post.

UPDATE 10-03-2021: Forgot the address: it's 2297 Earl Rudder Freeway South.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Whisper Sister Shots

This picture was taken in April 2020 by the author, when not much was going on in the world.

Been a while since we covered Northgate, specifically the main drag (in fact, at of the time this was originally posted, from Chimy's we've covered from Wellborn to this bar, except for Duddley's Draw). 315 University is believed to have been built in the late 1940s, and trying to find the backstory of the building has been a bit difficult. The earliest I can find is 1971, when it was the original home of Budget Tapes & Records (a local store, not the chain as the University Square article, as of this writing, purports). In March 1981 the store moved out and while the owner tried to open an arcade in the spot, no information has been uncovered. In 1986, it became a restaurant known as Wing Joint, which was later bought and incorporated into the space of Cow Hop next door. In 1993, it too closed and moved out to University Square, leaving the combined space to a large bar called The Bullseye, which by 1995 closed and became two bars: "The Alley" (315) and "King of the Roadhouse" (317).

The Alley would soon give way to Coupe De Ville, which was sued in 1999 after a recently-turned 21 year old slammed a number of potent drinks between midnight (when he could legally buy alcohol) and 2 am when the bars closed. (Police found him dead with a blood alcohol content of .48, a lethal amount and four times the legal limit). Unfortunately I can't find the original articles in question (especially the Houston Press article which described some of the drinks and their contents...what do you expect from drinks like "DWI" or "Liquid Cocaine"?) but Coupe De Ville got sued and ended up selling out. In 2005 it became Bar 315, which closed in March 2012 and it remained empty up until Whisper Sister Shots opened in May 2017 after over five years of vacancy. Bar 315 did change the building facade significantly including removing the old awning and adding white brick to the outside, which Whisper Sisters continues to maintain.

UPDATE 09-17-2021: Deleted some redundant parts that were the result of carried over from an old post.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Jimmy John's on University Drive East

Might be a bit overcast but this is "Egg Roll House" looks today after an extensive re-do (June 2020 picture by author)

In perhaps a first for this site and sister site Carbon-izer, Carbon-izer was actually sourced on TexAgs for a bit on Egg Roll House, as opposed to the site's early days when TexAgs served as a primary resource for additional information beyond what I could remember or scrape from Project HOLD. While this restaurant was first covered on Carbon-izer, I can take some time to personalize the story about it.

Even back when I was younger, the University Drive East corridor was always one of the most interesting of the city (of College Station, anyway), a mishmash of suburbia both old and not quite as old, and going out to eat usually involved passing through the area. Of all the older buildings there, one building stuck out, an abandoned restaurant near the intersection of Texas Avenue and University Drive known as "Egg Roll House".

Egg Roll House actually started out as a location of Taco Torch in 1976 (not to be confused with Torchy's Tacos, a much more modern restaurant covered some years back), an early Mexican fast food option found in the Central Texas area, including Waco.

Taco Torch only ended up lasting a year (and had the address, at least to state tax records, 106 University Drive East as opposed to 200 University Drive East) before it was sold and became Egg Roll House. Egg Roll House was a strange-looking restaurant with hand-painted signage (may have had some sort of lighting on it) that operated from 1977 to around the late 1990s (as late as Christmas 2000), and sat vacant for close to a decade before around 2008 when it was gutted (a few walls were retained) and rebuilt for a Jimmy John's.

Speaking of the TexAgs post above, there were claims that Egg Roll House had a small apartment in it where the owners lived while it operated and several years afterward. If I had my 2005 phone book with me at press time, I might've verified that (or disproved that), but that will have to wait until a future update. The only fact that I did find in researching this for a full post is that former owner Yo-Fu Lee passed away in 2009.