CARBON-IZER PRESENTS FM 1960
Initially, I didn't want to make an FM 1960 page, mostly on the grounds that the website West Houston Archives did something similar with far more photos than I could ever hope to have.
Unfortunately, John abandoned his website due to the method he had used (through the way the website editor changed) being outdated, prompting this page. My initial idea was to correct the legacy of a certain restaurant, but it soon evolved beyond that, to make corrections/updates/additions that were not covered in the original version.
To try to provide a better "connection" to the original page the layout is similar.
US 290 TO ELDRIDGE PARKWAY
- The Steak N Shake
restaurant at 12611 FM 1960 Road West ended up closing in 2015.
- Sound Fitness
has since gone out of business, but the sign remains up. More history of the former Eckerd is on The Houston Files
ELDRIDGE PARKWAY TO JONES RD.
- The "Kroger filling station" mentioned at WHA section an Albertsons Express originally (the "Snacks" and "Beverages" signage is original to Albertsons) and of course, the Kroger behind it was an Albertsons as well. I visited the former Albertsons
#2790 back in 2015 (covered at my old Albertsons blog
) to find that Kroger still kept a lot of Albertsons' specialty flooring (even if the departments themselves no longer existed in those locations).
JONES RD. TO PERRY RD.
- Big Lots
was built as a Kroger "Super Store", originally opening in late 1978 or early 1979. Ultimately, the Kroger pulled out less than a decade later (closed by late 1986) and by 1988 it was Pic'N'Save and in 1992 it was Mac Frugal's, the new name of the chain. In 2002, the store was rebranded as Big Lots.
- This 1985 Wendy's
was the last Wendy's I knew of in Houston that had the original "solarium" roof. Unfortunately, in 2018-2019 the restaurant was renovated and doesn't look like that anymore.
Wendy's exterior, February 2017
Wendy's solarium, February 2017
PERRY RD. TO SH 249
- This section mentions a Sports Authority
(and former Oshman's) located at 8625 FM 1960 Road West and open when the picture was taken in 2011. However, it was more than just
an Oshman's, it was Oshman's SuperSports USA. An ad in a September 1995 issue of the Houston Chronicle
showcased all the features of the new store
. Sometime around late 2005 or early 2006, it was rebranded as Sports Authority until its closure in spring of 2016.
SH 249 TO CUTTEN RD.
- Opening in August 1994 as "Builders Square II" (a larger version of the Builders Square hardware store
, owned by Kmart). The Builders Square II name either wasn't used on the exterior or de-emphasized later, it was Kmart's plan to convert all the stores to the Builders Square II format, and it was not used in advertisements. In June 1999, the company (spun off from Kmart in 1997) filed for bankruptcy and closed the remaining six stores in Houston (the company would go out of business later that year after unsuccessfully trying to convert Builders Square to their other brand, Home Quarters). In 2001, the store reopened as a Sam's Club
Willowbrook Mall's chronology is largely correct with a few minor but significant changes.
- When the Macy's store became Dillard's, the exterior was almost completely changed as Dillard's did a massive expansion to the store.
- Joske's became Dillard's in 1987, and moved out in 1997 when they purchased the old Macy's space. Lord & Taylor moved into the original Joske's/Dillard's spot in 1998.
- In fall 2014, Nordstrom Rack opened at the former Lord & Taylor space. The 38,000 square feet store (one floor) was significantly smaller than the store it replaced. Adjacent to it (not connected to the main mall) was a Bar Louie, but it closed in January 2020
- In October 2016, a Dick's Sporting Goods opened in new construction adjacent to the food court.
- The Sears announced it would close in early 2020.
CHAMPIONS FOREST TO STUEBNER-AIRLINE RD.
At this corner is the Champions Village shopping center. This strip mall was unusual in that it featured similar tenants to a traditional shopping mall (including more upscale tenants) while hybridizing it with traditional strip mall tenants. While the shopping center even had a directory published in the paper
, there were a few notable tenants:
West Houston Archives never mentioned Empress of China, with the way I found it about it via Houston Historic Retail. Mike (of HHR) was doubtful that the restaurant was nearly as good as claimed, as the original author gushed about the restaurant, talking it up as "Houston's most elegant, word of mouth, high cuisine restaurants with extensive wine selection" and how it "truly" featured "culinary art". The earliest reference I could find to Empress of China (5419-A FM 1960) was in 1984. By the late 1980s it was considered to be one of the best Chinese restaurants in Houston with the restaurant also getting named in "Top Wine List" listings. The restaurant was different from other typical Chinese restaurants of the time, emphasizing healthier cooking methods (rarely frying) and other features. The restaurant was renamed Empress in 1996 (though the name Empress of China continued until its closure) and closed in March 2003. The owners reopened as "Cafe Empress" at 17505 State Hwy 249 in 2004 but it closed within a few years for Guayaba Latin Grill (which has since closed)
- Service Merchandise was a former Wilson's store, but it didn't last too long at Champions Village. It made it until 1991, but as of 1994, it was already gone and Stein Mart had filled in part of the space.
- Sakowitz II, a specialty store based after the larger department store, opened in 1978. It lasted until the chain went under in 1990, and even as the chain was in its death throes, was still mentioned as Sakowitz II and not as Sakowitz Destinations, which was the new "specialty store" chain name that new ownership created.
- Randalls was originally a Handy Andy opened in 1974. In 1979 (or even 1980), the store was closed and soon reopened by Randalls, which later expanded it and briefly had it under the Flagship Randalls name.
STUEBNER-AIRLINE RD. TO KUYKENDAHL
- There are a few pictures on WHA of Hunan Chef at 3655 FM 1960 West, which the website purports opening in 1980 as per the road sign. Unfortunately, only the original "Hunan Chef" was around 1980, not this location. Around 1989-1990, this was The Covered Dish
(one of my friends worked here in that era), and this also appears to be the first restaurant here (he also says it was a buffet). By summer 1994, HomeTown Buffet (of the same parent company that owns Old Country Buffet, but a merger had not yet happened at the time
) opened in the former Covered Dish spot. The last mention of HomeTown Buffet was in October 2002 (many area groups met there over the years), with the first mention of Hunan Chef (operating as "Hunan Chef III") in 2006. In 2012, the restaurant closed and was torn down. Chick-fil-A was built on the site a few years later.
- 2318 FM 1960 has a build date according of 1970 according to HCAD with the first recorded tenant being Sambo's
in 1974, a chain restaurant based out of California. Sambo's
(as a chain) collapsed in the early 1980s due to allegations of racist imagery (though those problems really stemmed from the illustrations of the book it was based after being geographically incorrect
) and poor corporate planning. By December 1981, this location had become an antique store (Antique Gallerie), which lasted at least a few years. By 1996 it was the home to sports bar and family restaurant Bleacher's All-American Grill and by 1998 it was Wings N More (so says the Houston Chronicle), yet it wasn't the Wings N More in Houston that later became BreWingz (it's a bit of a long story), and the store flipped back to Wings-N-Things by 2001.
- "Big Easy Burger" at Kuykendahl has since been demolished (15911 Kuykendahl Road). It also was a former Long John Silver's
KUYKENDAHL RD. TO I-45
opened at 2224 FM 1960 in June 1979, bringing the total number of Woolco stores in the Houston area (along with a store at 12586 Westheimer) to 13, only to announce its closing a little more than three years later, with going out of business sales underway in fall 1982 with the last of its fixtures being auctioned off in January 1983. Later that year, part of the space (only about 50,000 square feet) became Front Row, which remained through most of the 1980s to move to 2206 FM 1960 to make room for Fiesta Mart #15, which opened in late 1989. The store closed in 1997 for a Randalls
which opened in 1998. However, the store appeared to have been closed without much fanfare just a few years later. I previously wrote about this store at my old Albertsons blog
opened its only Houston location in 2006 and closed around 2012. It later reopened as Pollo Regio.
- In 1980, a gymnastics center at (17203 Bamwood) was built, known as "Gym-n-i Gymnastics Center". In the early 1980s, recently defected Olympics team trainer Béla Károlyi invested in the gym and ended up buying it
in 1982 (renaming it as "Karolyi's Gym") and spurring the creation of many similar facilities in the area. In 1996, the Bamwood facility was purchased by James Holmes of College Station
and renamed Acrofit Gymnastics. Károlyi continued to operate Karolyi Ranch until it was shut down
as part of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal. Around 2000 it opened a new facility at 2103 Anders Lane in Kemah, though I'm not sure if both locations co-existed at the same time (probably not) but this location was gone by 2004.
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