Steak ‘n Shake leaves Houston and Taco Bueno Arrives

Happy Fourth of July! To celebrate lets check out two chains both on their second run in Houston. Steak ‘n Shake returned to Houston in 2008 with their Eldridge and 1960 location. With the Katy, Pearland, and Webster locations opening 2012-2013. The previous incarnation of Steak n Shake dated from the mid-1970s and would only last until 1978. While I was never able to find an exact reason for them leaving Houston, it seems that lack of proper management was the largest cause.

The signs had been removed completely by July 2nd
While the Katy location has already been leased to Eggcellence I haven’t been able to visit Pearland or Webster to see their fate.

The second run of Steak ‘n Shake is deffinetly the winner for overall length, but there are gaps when the stores closed usually around a few months at a time. There were even times when signage was removed from the building in an attempt to lease but no tenants were found. While COVID has given major issues to many restaurant chains, Steak ‘n Shake was circling the drain before any of this began. For a while now, the company has tried to convert locations from corporate ownership, to franchises with many stores sitting empty awaiting a new fate.

The building is in rough shape, and looked this way prior to closing.
The closing was hasty, with menus being left in place and only handwritten signs informing customers.

Right across I-10 from the former Steak’n Shake is where Taco Bueno has decided reentered the Houston market. As previously mentioned this is the second go around for Taco Bueno in Houston. In the 1980s the chain opened a small number of locations around Houston. These buildings had very striking adobe style architecture,  with some former locations maintaining their themeing.

The Carl’s Jr sign was reused with the star extension removed   
The exterior elements like the stars around the build were sanded away, and the entrances received new stone facades
Much of the inside of the restaurant remains the same, including the soda fountain, which still has all the same drink selections.
All the read themed seating was left in place, and after a much needing cleaning actually looks pretty nice.

Carl’s Jr. leaving the Houston area happened in a similar manner to Steak ‘n Shake, a few months ago. It’s also worth noting that while Taco Bueno was once associated with Carl’s Jr. this ended about 20 years ago. Hopefully Taco Bueno will be successful, but only time will tell, and with the current pandemic this may be a challenge.

Check out Houston Historic Retail on Facebook for updates:


  1. When I was a kid in the late 1960’s, there was a Taco Bueno within bike riding distance of my house. I live in Pasadena, Texas and there were two Taco Buenos there, and a third one just inside the city limits of Houston, near Pasadena. I was so sad when they closed in the summer of 1980. I know exactly when it was, because I was expecting my first child and Taco Bueno was my comfort food. Imagine my dismay when, one by one, I drove to each Taco Bueno, only to find them boarded up. When I got to the third Taco Bueno, I just sat in my car and cried.

    Forty years later, I’m hearing rumors that Taco Bueno is going to open up in a closed Krispy Kreme location/building. I hope the rumor is true!

    1. Three in Pasadena. The original on Starkey by Pal Gym, Red Bluff across from Kroger just before Spencer and corner of Spencer and Federal.

  2. I’ve always wanted to try Taco Bueno! Do you know if there are plans to open in Webster? Was there ever a Taco Bueno in the Webster area?

    1. As far as I know they’re not taking over any other Carl’s Jr locations at the moment. So I’m not sure where the next expansion will be. As far as the older stores, no I don’t think there was one in Webster. Pasadena was likely the closest.

  3. It’s great to see you back. I’m hoping I’ll be able to roadtrip to a surviving Steak ‘n Shake or two when I feel safe eating inside a restaurant again.

    1. Thank you! I’m looking forward to seeing that. Especially as I have a skewed Texan view of what is supposed to be a fine Midwestern establishment.

  4. I’m thinking this is at least Taco Bueno’s third attempt at the Houston market. There was at least one Taco Bueno in this area in the late 2000s/early 2010s in The Woodlands. Specifically, it was on 242/College Park Drive (3375 College Park Dr., The Woodlands, TX 77384). Here is the Yelp page for that location:

    I don’t know if they had any other locations in this area at that time.

    1. I’m looking into to this location to see what the story was. I think it was associated with the Conroe one.