James Coney Deserted Island, a Meadows Place Story

Update 4/27: For those on the Google crusade of trying to figure out why this location closed, it seems the property is being redeveloped as Cabo Bob’s an Austin-based taco house (Thanks Gruffbear!) If this has been helpful to you, consider following me on Facebook or other platforms for more regular updates!

Howdy folks, and welcome to Houston Historic Retail. Today we’re checking out a James Coney Island, which truly is, on an island. Let’s start out though, talking about my least favorite hot dog chain. I know what you’re thinking, what’s wrong with this guy? Doesn’t like JCI, and calls himself a Houstonian? Well hold those pitchforks for a moment and let me explain. My relationship with JCI hasn’t always been adversarial, in fact for many years it was one of my favorite hot dogs in Houston, save for the all-time favorite a Dome Dog. Although obviously, they’re not widely available anymore, so that left me with JCI to get my fix. The quality of JCI has slowly but steadily declined over the years but hit a new low around 2005. The menu never changed much, including the prices, and this is likely why JCI has been able to hold on for so long, as consistency sells hot dogs. However, the prices would of course catch up and by around 2010 JCI was quickly dropping in rank for me. The days of Delaware Punch, and Corn Dogs had gone from a single-digit treat to a multi-dollar affair. Around this point, I began getting my hot dog fix elsewhere. For the price, I found lots of enjoyment in both Dairy Queen, and Sonic, but my favorite for the next few years was A&W until they had a very similar falling out to JCI, mostly due to the breaking up of their ownership. Honestly, these days I’m far more preferential to Der Wienerschnitzel which has a Chili Dog, and Corn Dog combo to fit my peculiar tastes. Today we’re taking a look at the James Coney Island in Meadows Place at 11940 Southwest Freeway. Our goal will be to figure out, how did James Coney end up on a deserted island.

Well, now that I’ve justified my dislike of JCI, let’s go into some details about how this store ended up here. Anyone who has driven down US-59 during the past 30 years, has absolutely seen this restaurant. When it was built, it was one of the only fast food joints in the area, its clean white and neon-lit exterior in stark contrast to the Pappasitos next door. If you’re unfamiliar with Meadows (now Meadows Place) it is a tiny incorporated city, less than 1 square mile in total space. The majority of Meadows was built as housing, with a small portion of their land set aside for future commercial use. In the 1980s, the Deauville Corporation was able to twist a few arms and end up with a good chunk of Meadows for a Deauville Fashion Mall, and pending expansion. The idea was the taxes collected from a shopping mall, would far outweigh any other possible use. Unfortunately, after only about 2 years of unsuccessful operation, Deauville closed the mall in 1987. While Wal-Mart did purchase the rear portion of the mall to redevelop as a Sam’s Club, the front end, and a large portion of property across Dorrance street were left untouched for future development that needed was promised to Meadow’s. Rather than leave undeveloped land as a tax sink, the city of Meadows kicked property use into high gear. Within the next few years, a Pestmart was built across from the mall on former Deauville land and the front end of the mall would be redeveloped at a Garden Ridge. With only a bit of frontage space left, James Coney Island would be one of the last businesses to pop up in this portion of Fort Bend County. It has sat here ever since, puttering along even without the draw of a mall. While I don’t what exactly the future holds for this JCI, there doesn’t seem to be much going on for now.

7 comments

  1. Mike, you didn’t even order the original coneys? This is the worst review of all time. JCI is poorly managed, but still an amazing product. Don’t listen to this guy.

    Sad!

  2. We tried to go to this James Coney Island today and found that it had closed. The one on Mason Road in Katy closed also. We both are native Houstonians who had our first Coneys at the downtown James Coney Island restaurant as children starting in the 1950’s. Living in Sugar land for 22 years, we ate at the Meadows Place JCi for many years and loved it. We now live in Austin. We love JCI and are very sad that it is no longer in Meadows Place. It is a terrible location and is difficult to get to. No way Sonic is better than JCI.

  3. I loved JCI. I did not eat their weekly or even monthly but they were my go-to place for a chili cheese dog and a frito pie. I will miss them.

  4. I just tried to go eat here last week, and it was closed. JCI has shrunken to 12 locations. Yes, I do love their hot dogs but you are right about them getting expensive (pre-inflation). This chain is dying a slow, sad death. RIP James Coney Island of Meadows Place. I will personally miss them.

  5. After 3 closures in the past 5 years, this is now the closest James Coney Island to me. We’ll have to agree to disagree on JCI… as that fact makes me sad. To be fair, my go-to dish there isn’t a hot dog but the tamale plate, since you practically get a bowl of chili with your tamales.

    Hot dogs do not appear to be a growing segment of fast or even fast-casual food, as recent trips to hardly busy more “upscale” hot dog joints have shown me. JCIs, however, often have a pretty fascinating demographic coalition supporting them: really old white people and working class Latinos. I once saw an 80+ year old woman having lunch at a JCI with the guy she hired to driver her around in her brand new Bentley…

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