A look into Houston's retail past

Random Retail: Sight-Seeing down 90-A

May 18th marked the 5th birthday of Houston Historic Retail, The site existed a few years prior as a free WordPress blog. Some readers have been here since day one and I thank you all for your unending support.

Welcome back loyal reader! With the ongoing COVID crisis I haven’t really had any chances to get out and take that many photos. I have made some updates, like new photos of West Oaks Mall, and HEB Pantry Foods, along with new pages like Sunniland Furniture and Luther’s Bar-B-Q. One of the few trips I have taken during this time was out to Shiner, Texas to pick up some custom made masks. On the way there, my wife and I decided to stop in Halletsville for lunch. This was when dine-in was still banned.

Our first choice was Sonic, but we sadly found it out of business.
Next on this list was Subway but we found it closed too.
Moving forward it looked like even more of the town was closed. This Courthouse Annex started life as a Stanley Supermarket location.
After Stanley’s bankruptcy this store was eventually sold to Godwin’s. At some point the county took over the majority of the building, and it looks like the former Subway is next.
Driving up the road a bit we eventually saw some signs of like in the form of a Brookshire Brothers and a Division 1 Walmart located side by side.
It’s rare enough to find a non supercenter still operating in a town big enough for a full line grocery store. Even more rare was the unprotected Garden Center in the parking lot. Most stores discontinued the use of parking lot garden centers, and the few that keep them only operate seasonally and with a barrier to prevent theft.
The Brookshire Brothers location was even big enough to maintain a Connoco with a tiny C-Store
Heading back into town we ended up stopping at Dairy Queen which we had avoided because of the line. In retrospect the line was due to the fact that DQ was basically the only option.
Past the classic 3 pole design, this DQ had something unusual about it. Can you spot it?
This DQ has a second window! Not just has, but uses. It was tiny and was very obviously created by removing only a few bricks.
Upon finally reach Shiner, I didn’t find much of interest to photograph. Although we really just grazed the town. One neat thing was this Subway Cafe, which means they sell extra items, this one also sells Mama Deluca Pizza.

While it wasn’t the grandiose trip we wished for, Shiner was a nice drive out into the country. I have some back-loaded blog posts that will likely be appearing soon. In addition to those keep your eyes out for some themed posts. Until next time loyal reader!

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: https://www.facebook.com/HoustonHistoricRetail

What’s Going on at the former Fuddrucker’s on Kirkwood

I moved recently! I relocated from the center of Houston, closer to my job on the west side of town. During one of my many trips moving things back and forth, I noticed a recently closed Fuddrucker’s at 2475 S. Kirkwood . I had been to this location a few times, when I was child. My parents had at that time also moved to the west side, and we would “meet in the middle” for lunch with my grandparents. We would sometimes go to Le Peep, often Luby’s, and every once and a while, this Fuddrucker’s.

Walking up to the building didn’t elicit any direct memories. I could make out that there was writing on the windows, but other than that the black paint did such a bad job of hiding the logo it looked like it was just faded out.

A close up of the awning shows that the logo still shines through. In addition to painting the awning, the sign on the building was removed, and the road sign was also painted over. Coming closer to the door revealed a Construction Permit.

This location was sold August 24th, and closed 4 days later. However, the permit still lists Luby’s Fuddrucker’s Restaurant as the occupant. The permit is for demolishing interior walls.

Upon looking into the restaurant, the interior walls had obviously been demolished, but many things were left behind. Including most of the kitchen equipment. This leads me to believe that this Fuddrucker’s may be coming back.

Even though looking at the building from afar didn’t bring back any memories, this rear dining room did. Specifically the awesome sloped roof! Along with the exposed HVAC equipment.

Coming to the back of the restaurant, it was obvious that people had been working. The lights and fans were all on. Also worth noticing is that not only were appliances and fixtures, like this sink were left behind. Things like flatware, prep containers, and even dish washing supplies stuck around.

This building was constructed in 1983, however Fuddrucker’s did not move in until 1988, or if they did I can’t find any mention of it. I’m relatively sure this back dining room replaced a patio. My indications were the door frames in the walls, the separate slabs, and the need for a separate A/C system as seen in the next photo.

Moving on from the wonderfully industrial HVAC equipment, some corner booths were left behind. I’m not sure if this location ever received the “full remodel” that many other Fuddrucker’s locations received. However, these round booths were generally the only thing left after one was finished. If Fuddrucker’s isn’t coming back it would be a little strange that these are still here.

Looking at the rear dining room, it makes the theory that this was an addition even stronger. Including the exterior A/C units. There was a relatively large rear parking lot. Also noticeable in the picture, is a rear door.

Taking one final look at the building, it really seems like this was a converted building. It’s a nice restaurant, and it doesn’t seem like Fuddrucker’s is leaving for good. Hopefully they either come back to this building or Luby’s tries out a new concept here.

Adiós to Casa Olé in Stafford

While out taking pictures for an upcoming blog post, I passed the Casa Ole on Murphy Road and saw only a single car in the parking lot. I thought that maybe it was just an extremely slow day, and gave them a call to see if they were open. I didn’t get an answer, so I decided to turn back around and snap some photos.

The neon sign is now turned off, the sky wasn’t very overcast but had tall clouds which blocked out the sun and muted the colors of the building. The address of this location was 12203 Murphy Rd, Stafford, TX 77477

The sign facing Murphy Road gives notice of the closing, however the thick bundle of cable and telephone wiring block the view of the sign to Northbound motorists.

Moving back from the sign to face the corner of the building, you can see the fountain was removed at some point. I’m not sure when the last time I stopped at this location was, but the fountain was still there.

Up at the front door, signs have been taped to the door which was written by the founder of Casa Ole, Larry Forehand. It also includes a map of other locations in the Houston area.

I believe this was the To-Go entrance at one point. However, it didn’t have any signs indicating what it was.

There is a used car lot located directly to the right of the building. To help preserve some of the charm of not looking at old cars while you eat, a fence was built and this area was styled with potted plants, and mulch.

Looking into the restaurant not much has been touched. Some of the lights are still even on.

You can see the lit accent lighting on the support beam to the far left, along with the Exit sign above the emergency door.

Moving further down the right side of the building we come to an “abandoned” window which has not seen any love in a while. There’s another phony abandoned window on the opposite side of the building, in much better shape. This was never seen by customers.

The back end of the building really goes to show how great of a theme job was done with the stucco, and building additions. Notice the window on this side, which includes the original awning.

This location had an extra grass lot, which I remember parking in quite a lot. Although, it looks like it hasn’t been used much lately.

A better look at the nicer window reveals that is is just building decor, also notice the outside of the emergency exit on the right.

This side of the restaurant looks the same, like it’s ready to open back up at any minute.

I couldn’t figure out exactly where this door led, but I’m thinking this was maybe a private room from the dining room?

These tables even had table cloths on them. Someone must have stopped mid-setup.

A final look back at Fort Bend County’s sole Casa Ole made me some what nostalgic. I remember Case Ole as being quite the celebratory place. The food was delicious, and reviews show this held true up until the end. If anything this restaurant has been effected by a demographic shift in the neighborhood. The Stafford area, which has shifted from established Upper Middle and Middle Class African American families, to newer immigrant families. Many of which are from African and Indian backgrounds, and are either lower-middle class or lower class. Only time will tell what will pop up in here, but Casa Ole will be missed.

Its final day of operation was July, 21 2018.

The Pig Stand

The Pig Stand was supposedly the first chain to ever offer, drive-in service. Fort Worth was home to the original location, eventually expanding to Houston by location number 7.

The Closing of Luby’s

So Luby’s, like many other Cafeteria chains hailing from the 1950s has experienced many woes over the years. The largest was the bankruptcy that nearly killed the company. I came across a list of locations which closed during the 2003 bankruptcy proceedings. The close date for all Texas locations was March 31, 2003 all locations outside of Texas closed April 3, 2003. The list illustrates the breadth the chain once had reaching from Tennessee to Arizona.

A Luby’s in Nasvhille shortly after closing.
Photo Credit: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/14079152/1501-Gallatin-Pike-North-Madis…/

 

City and State Address
Dallas, TX 2377 Stemmons Trail
Dallas, TX 12230 Forestgate Drive
Greenville, TX 7600 Wesley Street
Sherman, TX 3113 Highway 75 North
San Antonio, TX 4300 Thousand Oaks Drive
Grand Prairie, TX 980 West Pioneer Parkway
McKinney, TX 920 North Central Expressway
Irving, TX 2250 Walnut Hill Lane
Tyler, TX 2829 West Northwest Loop 323
Mesquite, TX 24315 L.B.J. Freeway
Garland, TX 3255 Broadway Boulevard
Arlington, TX 701 North Watson Street
Orange, TX 4040 IH-10 West
Houston, TX 6704 Highway 6 South
Lewisville, TX 2401 South Stemmons Freeway
Fort Smith, AR 6201-A Rogers Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 601 West Bell Road
Tucson, AZ 7140 East Rosewood Street
Mesa, AZ 1404 South Longmore Street
Glendale, AZ 5285 West Bell Road
Oklahoma City, OK 3800 North MacArthur Boulevard
Tulsa, OK 115 East 15th Street South
Tulsa, OK 3140 South Garnett Road
Memphis, TN 5240 Summer Avenue
Memphis, TN 6705 Winchester Road

 

In addition I also found a shorter list of locations that had closed prior to the March 31, 2003 date.

 

Amarillo, TX (closed first week of March) 2101 South Coulter Drive
El Paso, TX (closed first week of March) 7825 North Mesa Street
Fort Worth, TX (closed March 24) 7624 Grapevine Trail
Albuquerque, NM (closed first week of March) 4710 Montgomery Boulevard
Nashville, TN (closed first week of March) 1501 Gallatin Pike North