Friday, September 17, 2021

Spice World Market

There's a big Starbucks sign inside for what is essentially a Starbucks-branded Keurig machine inside. (Photo by author, 9/2021).

One more entry before I take a break for a little while (see Editor's Note at the bottom), Spice World Market opened in July 2021 at 1381 Old Arrington Road. It's an Indian grocery store at 9,000 square feet, which is much larger than any Indian food-focused store in town. Previously, the places that specialized in Indian food mostly just had some items crammed in the back of a convenience store, but this one is in a nice, new space with even a bakery that churns out fresh naan (which I have yet to see, it runs out by 5pm).

Spice World is located on 1381 Old Arrington Road, located behind the main Caprock Crossing development, and has been in planning for a long time. I first saw the signs for Spice World Market ("Coming Soon") in March 2019, en route to the Ground Shuttle terminal further down when picking up my cousin at the terminal for a wedding (the trip to the terminal was not as exciting as childhood trips all the way to downtown Bryan's old Greyhound station, but it was easier to get to). Funnily enough, the section of Old Arrington Road did not exist for a brief time in the 2000s. When Highway 40 opened, (Old) Arrington Road intersected with Highway 40 just before Highway 6 (complete with a left turn lane from Highway 40), with the newer section of Arrington Road accessible further down solely to provide access to Greens Prairie Road West. By 2008, the section closer to the highway was officially Old Arrington Road, while the intersection further west curled down to connect to the main road. A few years later, the pavement was removed on Old Arrington near the highway and closed off.

By fall 2014, the space was being redeveloped as Caprock Crossing, with Walgreens being built, and a Zaxby's later built on the right of way itself. Old Arrington was on its way to be forgotten and built over completely, like North Graham Road. However, unlike North Graham Road, in 2017 or 2018, the cul-de-sac at the end of Old Arrington (the truncation point), was removed, and a new concrete driveway connected it to the Caprock Crossing entryway, which provided access to Zaxby's, Walgreens, and others. It was on this rebuilt portion that Spice World opened.

Editor's Note: So the blog will be going a bit quiet again. Probably not "no posts until 2022" but likely not for another month or two until I can build some posts and content. Unlike in August 2020, when I ran aground, this is going to at least end on a high note. If you exclusively read this blog via Facebook (not recommended!) this notice may be out of date anyway, as I have more than enough Facebook stuff stored up to sail through this gap.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Pruitt's Fabrics

Picture from August 2018 by author.

Well, classes are back in session again, and I can tell from of early September, the most popular page of the month was the Memorial Student Center page.

Like Dixie Chicken on the other side of campus, Pruitt's Fabrics (it dropped the "Fabrics" on the main sign some years ago, probably as late as 2011 but no earlier than 2008) has just been "there" at 318 George Bush Drive (or 318 Jersey, originally) for years, with its coral-green tile giving away its age. Sadly, Pruitt's has all appearances of being on its last legs, whether that's actually true or not. The store is open by appointment only, the building is for lease, and the website has been offline for a few years now. Pruitt's Fabrics claims to be founded in 1946, but we know in 1956 it was a few spaces down. However, by 1959, Pruitt's Fabrics (or "Pruitt's Fabric Shoppe" or "Pruitt's Fabric & Beauty Shop" as it was also known) settled in its current location, and here we are sixty years later.

Brazos CAD says that the building was built in 1957, which aligns with advertising (no records for 318 Jersey before Pruitt's) and puts Pruitt's as the first and only building in the space.

The building is right next to what is currently Good Bull BBQ but from that post, it has changed hands multiple times, whereas Pruitt's has been constant.

Editor's Note: Check out some recent updates posted around the site! Former NAPA Auto Parts is getting a new tenant. Wolfe Nursery has a link to a history I wrote of the company. Did you know it was owned by Pier 1 Imports for a time? Speaking of Pier 1, Texas Avenue Crossing lost another tenant, World Market. Texas Avenue Crossing is rumored to get a Sprouts, and I do have some pictures of the pre-redevelopment center (after Academy closed). That will be added another time...Kettle got a minor update (it might just return to 24 hours again, someday...), and finally the At Home article got a minor update. All updates have been re-worked to be a little easier on the eyes, too.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Good Bull BBQ

You can see the remnants of where an awning once hung, last seen in the "Cocina" days. (Picture by author, 8/21)

When I did the post on the late Southgate Subway that closed after nearly 30 years, you could see the doors to Good Bull BBQ to the right of it. Unlike Subway, this spot (326 George Bush Drive, née 326 Jersey) has been a revolving door of restaurants over the years, but going back further hasn't always been restaurants.

The oldest record I can find is 1969 with the location being the Southside Barber Shop "under new management", with a legacy of hair cutting continuing into the early 1980s.

In 1978, it was the Mop Shop, and mentioned in the paper because someone had stolen their barber pole. It was here until the very early 1980s.

"How About Lurl's" was here in 1982-1983 according to tax records (a second location of a hair styling shop in Bryan). This is the last known hair cutting place at the spot before it transitioned to restaurant space.

In the spring of 1984, a new pizzeria called DoubleDave's Pizzaworks opened. A second location on Northgate soon followed. By the time DoubleDave's closed this particular location around 2000 (presumably relocating to Rock Prairie Road), DoubleDave's wasn't quite a small one-location operation anymore. DoubleDave's long stay at this storefront was the longest time that any single restaurant operated here and survived the 1990s name change to George Bush Drive.

Mi Cocina Restaurant (also known as Mi Cocina II, as their first restaurant was located in Bryan) opened in 2000 and was very popular for a time; by 2006 it had opened two additional locations in College Station. Unfortunately, at some point, it was sued by a similarly-named restaurant (which had no locations in College Station) and the restaurants became Polly's Cocina (except the original Bryan location, which went to different ownership). After the spring 2011 semester, the now-named Polly's Cocina Restaurant closed.

Coco Loco, which opened in summer 2011, I never actually went to, but I do remember my dad bringing home some leftover breakfast items including bacon and tortillas due to some work-related early morning meetings there, but in 2013 beef contaminated with the rare E. coli strain O157:H7 was undercooked and sent two young boys to the hospital. The restaurant was shut down by the health department for investigation and clean-up (and of course, the local news media followed it closely). During this saga, a health department official ate a taco at a televised press conference to demonstrate that the restaurant was safe to eat at, but that put off friends and families of the victims (especially as the family in question was facing a huge financial burden in hospital bills), and was forced to apologize. It would not have made much of a difference; the idea was to not throw Coco Loco under the bus, but it ended up closing in 2014.

La Botana moved in after Coco Loco's demise. This second location of a Bryan-based restaurant (still in operation as of this writing) opened in early 2015 but closed in 2017.

Good Bull BBQ opened in fall 2017 and closed in May 2021. Both TexAgs and Yelp attribute management issues to its closure. However, as of this writing, new management has reopened the restaurant.

Brazos CAD groups it with the same lot where Subway is, and therefore, like that building, I'll put that this building was built in the 1940s until new proof shows otherwise.

UPDATE 11-09-2021: The Good Bull BBQ revival ended up lasting just less than two months. Not too long after Good Bull BBQ reopened, their walk-in cooler failed, and the new owner did not fix it (allegedly believing it was the landlord's duty), leaving town soon after. Have the days of restaurants at 326 George Bush come to an end?
UPDATE 02-10-2024: In 2022 it became part of "FNL Nutrition", which didn't long and occupied the address of the former Subway next door.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Exxon at University Drive East and University Drive

This intersection used to have three gas stations, now just one. (Picture by author, 8/21)

Once last look at this certain corridor, here's what many web-based maps consider to be the epicenter of the College Station: University and Texas Avenue. At this prominent corner (425 Texas Avenue South) is an Exxon station, built in 1994.

The previous gas station was a Shell, likely built in the late 1970s, which replaced an even older gas station on the site (we'll have to find that one later). In the post for the Plaza Hotel, a video is linked that shows the intersection as it looked in the early 1980s, you can see a shot of the smaller Shell (logo) sign here (annotated version by "AggiePhil") as well as a black and white night picture of the sign from the Daily Texan (thanks to "Aggie Network" from TexAgs for tipping me off to this).

One Shell of a time.
The picture headlining the Plaza Hotel post also shows a better view of the Shell station. By 1993, it had been abandoned but not yet torn down (the convenience store is under the canopy). Can't say much for the modern Exxon here but for a brief time it was a Rattlers, though I can't confirm or deny it had the logo on the outside, and if it was, only a very brief time in the 2004-2005 range before it was sold off. It was already owned by Kolkhorst Petroleum prior to this, and actually was given the Rattlers #1 designation but they sold it off soon after.

In the picture above, you can see the Jimmy John's and the former Pizza Hut, both of which have been previously covered.

UPDATE 05-19-2023: I have finally (by myself, no one sent it) acquired a picture of what was previously only described (the date by the way is July 7, 1989). Minor other edits have been made.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Hampton Inn on Texas Avenue

I think this one came out surprisingly well. (Picture from author; 8/21)

Hampton Inn is the second generation hotel here, the first being the Sands Motel, built at 324 Texas Avenue South in the 1950s. In the early 1980s, Sands Motel was torn down for a new concept that Holiday Corporation (Holiday Inn) was marketing, a budget-oriented chain called Hampton Inn. (Holiday would break apart less than five years later; under new owners Bass plc, they later developed Holiday Inn Express after Hampton Inn and others were spun off into a new company, ultimately bought by Hilton).
A postcard I found on eBay (but didn't buy). Another, albeit black and white photo I've found, better shows that this was a "Best Western", back when that was a designation, not a brand.

In any case, while the Hampton Inn has been updated (official site) and College Station has gained a second Hampton Inn (a Hampton Inn & Suites, technically) on Earl Rudder Freeway, it retains its original exterior (though in the last few years work has been done to flatten the roof). It has 133 rooms, more than twice than its predecessor.
"The Sands offers 52 rooms, completely air-conditioned, room phones, cable TV, extra large swimming pool." Yes, cable TV did exist in 1960!

Today Hampton Inn has the address of 320 Texas Avenue. When this post was part of a larger post, I included an official picture, seen here. Notice the Applebee's in the background.