Wednesday, November 30, 2022

K-Bob's Steakhouse

This is an ad from K-Bob's Steakhouse back from 1989. Yes, this restaurant building DID start as a chain.
Paolo's Italian Kitchen, which has been here since September 2014 and August 2022, is officially dead*, and thus I figure it would be a good time to cover the story of 809 University Drive East. 809 University Drive East consists of one restaurant in the front (with a silver roof) and office suites behind it (copper roof), and while I can't get a good picture of Paolo's (it is, of course, sunken into the ground) you can catch a picture of Paolo's from our Abuelo's entry here.

The last time I ate at this restaurant was back sometime around the early/mid-2000s when it was T-Bone Jones. It was a good steakhouse while it lasted and it was a pick of my parents for date night. It closed in 2005 for a few reasons, the first reason was that when University Drive East was rebuilt in the late 1990s (six lanes out to the freeway), the construction required a retaining wall to be built, and as a result the restaurant was almost a full floor below the road level with limited visibility and access. The second reason was that with the early 2000s came a new slew of restaurants in the same corridor, with Cheddar's Casual Cafe, Rockfish Grill, Texas Roadhouse, and later the new location of Wings 'N More taking up residence, all with much better visibility and access. Lastly, and probably not an immediate factor of its decline (but compounded problems), but as the restaurant lost popularity, the dining room looked big and empty. There's a reason why restaurants, especially chain ones, try to separate out dining areas...

While 809 University Drive consists of a number of smaller office suites, the building in the front (and the only one with a silver-colored roof as opposed to copper) has been restaurants (suite 100A, though not always used). The most recent one is Paolo's Italian Kitchen, as previously mentioned. Previous tenants of the restaurant portion) included Rooster's Country Dinner House (2012-2013, failed in less than six months), Sodolak's Beefmasters (2010-2012, see our previous post that does briefly mention their attempt here), T-Bone Jones (1994-2005), Armando's Border Grill (1992-1993), Santa Fe Steakhouse (1990-1992), and K-Bob's Steakhouse (1986-1990).

You'll notice there is a gap after T-Bone Jones, it did sit empty for a few years.

I'm not going to list the tenants in the office complex, it's boring and that's probably not what you're here for. Still, it's worth mentioning for the number of other tenants that have used the 809 University Drive East address over the years.

* This made a lot more sense when I wrote this back in early September.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Barry Pool Company

Advertisement from 1999 phone book

As the weather gets chilly, I think of trips I've taken in the past for Christmas and Thanksgiving, which usually involved going down south from Texas Avenue (starting at Wal-Mart) and jumping down toward Highway 6, then off to 105. A good part of Carbon-izer is built around those memories. I've covered Veronica's here and there's one more defunct gas station that I'm still trying to collect information on, alluded to in that post over a year ago but I have yet to get around to it.

But first, Barry Pool Company. The address, 3114 Texas Avenue South, has been operational since 1986. They sold out around 2008 to what is now known as Brazos Valley Pool & Spas, but one of what made Barry's memorable was its sign, featuring a backlit slightly stylized drawing of a woman in a bikini (you can barely see it here but you can't really see it all that well). Nothing obscene but it was still interesting and memorable enough, especially back in the time when I was rarely going down this stretch of road with my family. After all, what was beyond Wal-Mart? Not much. No grocery stores (not until Kroger opening in 2000), very few gas stations, and beyond Rock Prairie Road, no hotels or restaurants. As you can see on Carbon-izer that's not the case anymore and hasn't been for a while.