Sunday, September 18, 2022

Chicken Oil Company

Chicken Oil Company is a ramshackle-looking business, this is the back view from the parking lot. The front view from College Avenue is harder to get. (Picture from author, 8/22).

Once again, we're on College Avenue, which unlike FM 1179 doesn't have a corresponding page where everything is covered so neatly, covering Chicken Oil Company, which is closed, at least temporarily, following a fire in April 2022. I could've done what Columbia Closings does, put together some pictures of the business, give a few words if he remembers it or not (and if the former, with fondness or not), but I wanted to try to give an overview of the property as I usually do.

The same sign, affixed with blue painters tape, was in multiple other places outside the restaurant. (Picture from author, 8/22).

While I've eaten Chicken Oil Company a few times, what can I say, good hamburgers and fries, the restaurant space started out in an existing gas station in the late 1970s and evolved to what it is today, dropping gas along the way and creating a cobbled-together building similar to Dixie Chicken, which had the same ownership.
The restaurant is decorated with old advertising signs, though these have not been well-maintained and have rusted away. (Picture from author, 8/22).

While the gas station dates back to an indeterminate time, a separate "party room" was part of another restaurant, the Triangle Drive-In. This link currently has a picture of the Triangle as it appeared in 1948 (if the link dies, search Project HOLD or its successors for "Triangle Drive-In; photos (Aug. 1948)" without quotes. Friend of the site "Bryan-College Station, Texas: Now and Then" explains some of the history here (archived link--Facebook not required).

From what it looks like, when the Triangle Drive-In expanded in 1957 to the Charcoal Room, the awnings to that building disappeared and another structure was built to the south. The 1940s building remained during all this time (though I'm not sure what it was later used as). By 1971, the original Triangle building was gone, as was the 1957 building. (Later, the space where the 1957 building was became the home of Tom's BBQ, and is now J. Cody's). I'm not sure what the "Charcoal Room" restaurant was used for in the interim.

Ironically, the "Charcoal Room" was not the one that burned down. I had to bump up the brightness a bit on this one. (Picture from author, 8/22).

As you might have noticed from the photo above, Chicken Oil has been closed since an afternoon fire on April 3rd, 2022. The insides of the building were photographed a few days after the fire (originally hosted on YouTube). You can see that the kitchen areas were trashed but the dining room, while suffering extensive smoke damage, looks salvageable. Despite that, five months later, the restaurant has remained shuttered with almost no work done, yet the owners have vowed to reopen.

UPDATE 02-23-2024: Still no work has been done and looks very much the same as it did in September 2022. Fixed the YouTube link to local hosting due to its removal.
UPDATE 05-10-2024: Renovation has finally begun. The plan is to demolish parts of the Old College-facing side (to conform to Bryan's ROW) as well as the destroyed kitchen. The College Avenue facade and most of the building will remain.