A former Hartz Chicken in a former Burger King

Nowadays fast food restaurants, and many other retail outlets, are built with such little detail that you couldn’t tell them apart from their competitors with their branding. This isn’t just a coincidence either, bland styling easily allows buildings to be reused by other companies, and is often required in planned communities. This, however, was not the case back in the 70s and 80s when chains like BK and McDonald’s went on expansion streaks in major cities, as areas changed and the original restaurants closed, you’re left with what can easily be identified by a non-retail fan as at the very least a “reused building”. There’s even an entire subreddit dedicated to this concept, often these buildings are on their second or even third lives, but still highly resemble the chain that built them. Today we’re looking at 439 FM 1092, which first opened as a Burger King back in 1983. Up until 2001 the store continued unabated, but after 59 was completed traffic had already considerably dropped off. One of the likely final factors in this store’s demise would have been the departure of first Kmart which was across the street, and then later Kroger who was in the same shopping center as BK.

After sitting vacant for a year, a new tenant moved in. Going by the name “Hill Country Chicken Buffet”, it was a place I never stopped at but did drive past more than a few times, and judging by what little I can find online, it seems like a Hartz knock off. The store would be purchased in 2006 by a Houston Hartz franchisee, who converted the restaurant to their brand. The location would then jump around a few different franchisees over the years suffering from consistently poor reviews, that mostly complained of old food and poor service, which is among the normal complaints for most fast food joints. At the beginning of the pandemic, all Hartz locations shutdown indoor dining, switching to drive-thru only and stopping buffet service. This store did make it at least halfway through 2020 but was closed by December. It has sat vacant for the better part of a year now, personally I think it would make a great location for Tornado Burger to expand their currently cramped digs, however I’m doubtful that will occur.

Let us finish today with a dramatic reading

6 comments

    1. Such a policy might explain why this Hartz Chicken location is a former Hartz Chicken location! Then again, their establishment was operated in a Professional manner as any other retailer would govern theirs. Well, actually, most other retailers try a little harder to guarantee satisfaction!

  1. Definitely enjoyed the dramatic reading!

    Oh man, that Burger King tile makes me think of their classic finger-shaped chicken nuggets dropping into a tub of BBQ sauce…

  2. Classical music and vintage retail, there’s a combination I like!

    That’s quite a Liszt, err, list of store policies that Hartz had! Well, I guess it’s just one policy, but quite a detailed one. It’s certainly quite a different policy than Burger King’s ‘Have It Your Way’ ideology! Based on some of my experiences at Hartz over the last 20-25 years, I would say that customer service probably isn’t their strong point. I suppose it depends on the franchisee though. I’m sure some are better than others.

    Since this Hartz opened in 2006, it’s much newer than some of the Hartz locations I’m familiar with, but it still looks like it has the same vintage feel to it. I suppose the age of the Burger King building itself and the minimal amount of renovations has something to do with that. The throwback nature of many Hartz locations is pretty neat. They really have not changed much since the 1980s when they had the red and yellow signs or the 1990s when they had those memorable Chevrolet Astro vans with the telephone handsets on top for delivery service! Oh, and yes, there are some architectural features of this building which clearly make it look like an old Burger King. The shape of the street sign is probably the biggest giveaway.

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