A look into Houston's retail past

Steak N Shake

Company History:
Steak N Shake was on a expansion binge during the 1970s. Fueled by a exponential growth in the decade prior, the Mid-Western company had their eyes set on  the West Coast. With multiple states standing between Indiana and California, the oil rich state of Texas was an attractive option to continue Steak N Shake’s phase of expansion. To help build their foothold, Steak n Shake chose to hit two major cities at once Dallas, and Houston.

Although it looks more like the Grandy’s which later occupied it, this building was originally built as a Steak N Shake.

Local History:
Steak N Shake debuted in the Houston area in August 1976. Corporate decision makers seemed to put full faith into their Texas expansion, by opening six locations in the Houston throughout 1976. An additional three would open by early 1977. The chain advertised heavily attempting to attract both employees and customers. Just as quickly as Steak n Shake entered Texas, it exited the market. With the last mention in Houston being a Chronicle ad searching for management, run in June 30th of 1978. Making it just a month shy of the two year mark, there is little information on what exactly went wrong. Although the advertisements towards the end make it seem likely that staffing issues were a contributing, if not major factor.An interesting side note, of the 9 locations built, 7 were sold to Grandy’s. Which was a Southern Comfort restaurant chain, somewhat similar to Black Eyed Pea. Coming from Dallas, the former Steak ‘n Shakes made easy conversions. The only major building modification was the addition of a metal mansard roof which is a feature of all Grandy’s locations.

This is the Katy location in early June of 2020. The Biglari era stores have a distinct compact feel to them.

In 2008 San Antonio Entrepreneur Sardar Biglari purchased the chain which had only shrunk further after leaving Texas. He began another wave of expansion including news stores in Houston. These would be built at a much slower place with construction lasting from 2008-2013. When they first opened, Steak n Shake was well received. Bigger issues within the company would make their way down the chain of command. The stores would develop a reputation for slow and often poor service, albeit good food. The expansion undertaken by Biglari was comprised of company owned stores which were becoming unprofitable. Throughout 2018 and 2019 the Houston locations would sporadically close while attempting to switch to franchised locations. During the COVID crisis the final blow was dealt with all Houston locations permanently closing by the end of June 2020.

Photo Gallery:

2227 Gessner Rd Houston, TX1976-1978 Sold to Grandy's, Now Taqueria Cancun
8111 S Gessner Rd Houston, TX1976-1978 Sold to Grandy's, Now Taqueria Arandas
5322 Farm to Market 1960 Rd W Houston, TX1976-1978 Sold to Grandy's, Demolished 2018
3730 Kirby Dr Houston, TX1976-1978 Sold to Grandy's, Later Demolished
5745 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX1976-1978 Sold to Grandy's, Now James Coney Island, Highly remodeled
14508 Memorial Dr Houston, TX1976-1978, Became Farm and Home S&L Then Ta Hua Chinese
8321 Broadway St Houston, TX1977-1978, Became Sugar's Club Later Demolished
1005 Bay Area Blvd Houston, TX1977-1978 Sold to Grandy's, Later Demolished
806 Southmore Ave Pasadena, TX1977-1978 Sold to Grandy's, Later Demolished
12611 FM 1960 Houston, TX2008-2016 Currently Vacant
20950 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 2010-2020 Egcellence Cafe
3030 Business Center Dr, Pearland, TX2012-2020 Currently Vacant
20971 Gulf Fwy, Webster, TX2013-2020 Currently Vacant

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