Taco Cabana / 705 Bay Area Blvd.
This opened in 1987 as Two Pesos. In 1993, the chain was purchased by Taco Cabana and the restaurant was converted to it.
Black Rock Coffee Bar / 702 Bay Area Blvd.
This was built as a short-lived Pollo Campero and opened in 2011 but closed sometime between 2013 and 2014. In 2015 it reopened as Barbazzar, a coffee stand. Barbazzar closed sometime in late 2019, and became its current tenant in 2021. It replaced a bank that closed in 2007 (opened as Columbia Savings around the mid-1980s).
HTeaO / 481 Bay Area Boulevard
This was built in the late 1980s and is first mentioned to have signed Outback Steakhouse for a "6,000 square feet building" in November 1990, so it opened in 1991. In 2016, Outback Steakhouse relocated to 1503 Bay Area Boulevard and the building was torn down for a new El Pollo Loco. This opened in February 2017 but closed around January 2018 (clearly "Latin American-style grilled chicken" is not popular in this corridor) and reopened as HTeaO in February 2020.
Ghengis Grill / 510 Bay Area Blvd.
This originally opened as the second Houston location of the first-gen Krispy Kreme stores in 1999, before the contract ended in 2006 and it was rebranded as "Jumble's Doughnut Factory" for a matter of months before it went under. Ghengis Grill would open here in 2009.
Schlotzsky's / 1521 Bay Area Blvd.
This chain sandwich shop opened in 2016 next to a Dunkin' Donuts (1525 Bay Area Boulevard) that opened in fall 2015.
Star Stop / 1300 E. NASA Pkwy.
This gas station opened in 2017 as Omaha-based Bucky's (with a car wash behind the store, same structure!) but in 2022 the stores were sold to Star Stop following the purchase of the chain by Casey's. A McDonald's (1320 E. NASA Parkway) opened next to the gas station in 2021.
Previously, the lot was a Holiday Inn that dated back to 1966. From what I can tell, it was initially a two-story exterior-corridor motel with a six-floor interior hotel built later (sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s). By 2001 it had 233 rooms, a banquet room to hold 300 people, Brewsky's Lounge, and Duncan's Restaurant, though sometime around 2005-2006 pulled out and the hotel, now called Brentwood Inn, closed about a year later.
Arlan's Markets / 4614 East NASA Parkway
Arlan's Market #2 is the currently oldest Arlan's in the chain and the "flagship" of the small-town market. This opened as Safeway in 1973, transitioned to AppleTree in 1989, and finally was sold to Big Chief Supermarkets in late 1993, before selling to Arlan's Market within a matter of months. Around 2010-2011 an expansion was built to the east side of the store.
Walmart / 150 West El Dorado Boulevard
This Walmart Supercenter (#1062) faces Gulf Freeway (roughly in the 18100 block) and opened March 2002 (branded as "Wal-Mart Supercenter" and replaced an older store at 20810 Gulf Freeway). More info can be seen at Bluepages.
The Home Depot / 18251 Gulf Freeway
This location of The Home Depot has been here since 2008 when it relocated from 20251 Gulf Freeway.
Baybrook Mall / 19000 Gulf Freeway
Baybrook Mall actually is officially located at "500 Baybrook Mall". Even as Houston was booming and retailers had pie-in-the-sky ideas about how many department stores Houston could support, Baybrook Mall opened in 1978 as a modest, compact center with just Joske's, Montgomery Ward, and Sears. By 1984 it gained Macy's and Mervyn's, and by the time a major lifestyle center/power center was built, it had five department stores, Dillard's (former Macy's), JCPenney (former Wards), Forever 21 (former Mervyn's), Macy's (former Joske's), and Sears (the only original anchor, but it closed in 2017 without replacement).
Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse / 19901 Gulf Freeway
This was the site of Boater's World Marine Center from 1993 to 2009 (the whole division was liquidated). After sitting vacant for a few years, the building was demolished and replaced with Bone Daddy's House of Smoke (opened January 2013). In 2017 it was closed and converted into Pappa Delta Blues Smokehouse.
Pappas Seafood House / 19991 Gulf Freeway
This was built as Juarez Bar & Grill in 1985, and became Pappas Seafood House within a year.
Houston Garden Centers / 20050 Gulf Freeway
This garden center was built in 2013 in previously undeveloped space. Wolfe Nursery, an older garden center chain where HGC did pick up a few locations, had been located behind Baybrook Square, but that was long gone before HGC built a new location here.
Costco Wholesale / 1310 West Jasmine Avenue
Costco is set a bit back from the road (it has an address referring to the side street but is in the 20000 block, approximately) but it opened October 9, 2018 and features a liquor store operatied by WB Liquors & Wine, as well as a Costco gas station.
Luby's/Fuddruckers / 20001 Gulf Freeway
A combo Luby's/Fuddruckers restaurant (if it's anything like the one I visited in Austin, the seating areas are separate, only some common things like restrooms are shared) that opened in August 2014. It was built at a time when those restaurants were under common ownership. The previous building was demolished in the mid-2000s.
20251 Gulf Freeway
The Home Depot operated here from late 1994 to late 2008 when it moved to 18251 Gulf Freeway. After being vacant for about a decade (by this time the roof needed to be replaced), Urban Air Adventure Park opened a large location in 2019 with the rest of the space taken up by D-Bat Baseball & Softball Academy by 2022, and Goldfish Swim School to open sometime in 2023. The building still has the orange awnings of Home Depot.
20740 Gulf Freeway
Fiesta was going places in the late 1980s and early 1990s, building large, upscale stores in suburban areas, with their Webster store (Fiesta Mart #19) was the biggest of them all, opening in October 1989 with about 200,000 square feet of space (numbers were quoted from 180k to 236k square feet). It made industry headlines with a hydroponic garden, with produce later sold in the store grown in liquid and an artificial growing environment. Unfortunately, once things settled down, the customer count was not able to offset high overhead of the hydroponic garden. In 1991, 45,000 square feet was cut out for a new store, which SportsTown (20750 Gulf Freeway) occupied from early 1992 to fall 1995 when the chain went under.
Fiesta closed entirely by the end of 1993 and was replaced by Burlington Coat Factory (later just "Burlington") in 1994, but in 2020 Burlington relocated to a former Toys R Us on Bay Area Boulevard (having gradually shrunk its size over the years as well), with Floor & Decor taking its place by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the former SportsTown was replaced by The Book Market, a discount bookstore in fall 1996, which in turn was replaced by The RoomStore furniture store. It went out of business after midnight on Memorial Day 2012 when it closed its Texas stores as part of its bankruptcy. In fall 2013 it became Sears Outlet (leasing about 33k square feet of space), which was rebranded as American Freight in 2020. Other tenants also took up space around the former Fiesta Mart space as well.
At Home / 20780 Gulf Freeway
This has been here since 1996 (formerly known Garden Ridge until a 2014 rebranding). In October 1989 it opened as Pottery Mart, a store similar to Garden Ridge, owned by local businessman Larry L. Ham. It closed as late as January 1996 but probably closed sometime in late 1995.
Given the similarity between the two stores it is entirely possible that Garden Ridge purchased Pottery Mart and closed it for conversion to its own brand, but there is no proof of it.
Cinemark NASA and XD / 20915 Gulf Fwy. CinemaTreasures noted this 18-screen movie theater (with the XD screen added later for a total of 19) was opened August 2000 but doesn't offer much information beyond that.
21300 Gulf Freeway
Fry's Electronics opened its second Houston-area store in December 2004 in a newly-built 145k square feet location facing north. The access to the store was a little strange (only way in were two back entrances off Kobayashi Road South behind the store, no access from the frontage roads nor NASA Bypass Road) but nevertheless was a fixture of the area before closing with the chain in early 2021 (it will be missed). In 2022 it was announced Axiom Space would take over the building for offices, but would keep the ISS-themed décor of the interior.
To see the continuation of Gulf Freeway into Galveston County, check this page out.
McDonald's / 2800 Bayport Blvd.
This was built on the site of a CVS drug store (it was built as an Eckerd in December 1998, then sold to CVS in 2004). The CVS was evicted for highway right-of-way (moving nearby to 2242 Repsdorph Road) and in 2019 it was replaced by a McDonald's which relocated from 2164 Bayport Boulevard. The McDonald's has been covered on this website before and of course the old store is much more unique than the current one.
Kroger / 1905 El Mar Lane
Kroger HP-342 was opened in 1983 and kept its Greenhouse facade for many years but in 2023 it was announced it would be renovated. We have previously covered the store in all of its Greenhouse glory before. Originally, there was a Walgreens between the store and the highway, but widening made it have direct highway access.
Tookie's / 406 Texas Avenue
Kettle opened here in January 1996 (possibly 12/95) but was converted to "Skillet's" (same ownership) before closure in 1999 and replaced with Ichibon Japanese Seafood & Steakhouse, which was here until 2017 (though may have closed briefly in 2006). Since 2018 it has been the home of Tookie's Hamburgers & More after its old location at 1202 Bayport Boulevard was closed in January 2018 for the widening of Highway 146.
Nauti Mike's / 625 N. Highway 146
Jack in the Box (#3916) was built here in 1999 but closed around 2011, being replaced with The Nautic Group, a boat dealership. By January 2019 the Nautic Group had evolved into Nautic Marine & RV Superstore, with a grass hut-style pavilion next to it, but it closed in 2020. In early 2021, The Twisted Parrot Bar & Grill opened (despite it saying "Est. 2020") but it closed within a year or so. Nauti Mike's opened August 2022.
Bombshells Restaurant & Bar / 13965 South Freeway
The Pearland location of this restaurant chain is particularly large, with a 10,000 square foot building and a massive parking lot. It was under construction for nearly a year but opened in April 2018.
Redemption Church / 14011 South Freeway
Formerly Southway Community Church, in 2019 it merged with Covenant Community Church (operating in a transient location) to form Redemption Church at this location.
Philips 66 / 3331 S. Sam Houston Pkwy. East
This was a Corner Store Market (#1912) when it opened in late 2016 and was one of Corner Store's "flagship" stores with an expanded assortment of grab-and-go foods. In late 2018 it was rebranded as Circle K.
Valero/Golden Chick / 14191 Fayridge Drive
This Valero faces Beltway 8 (despite the Fayridge address) and was built around 2017-2018 with a "KroozIn" convenience store. Around late 2019 Golden Chick joined as a restaurant co-brand in the empty space meant for a drive-through.
Shell/Burger King / 7745 South Sam Houston Parkway East
I've been to this store before...I wrote back in Wikimapia that "the convenience store is somewhat more expensive than average and has a bulletproof glass-enclosed cashier area, and the service at the adjacent Burger King is slow" but both have been around since 2002, though the Burger King did update its facade in the mid-2010s. The convenience store is Handi Stop (#93).
Kroger / 11701 S. Sam Houston Pkwy. E.
Albertsons #2761 operated here from 1999 to spring 2002, anchoring this strip center. Kroger bought the store when the chain closed its Houston stores and its been here since.
AMC Gulf Pointe 30 / 11801 E. Sam Houston Parkway South
Opened in December 1997 (more detail at Houston Historic Retail or of course CinemaTreasures), this 30-screen movie theater had space for five restaurants to be developed in front of the movie theater, but only two ever opened. Outback Steakhouse (12130 Dickinson Road) opened in early 1998 but closed in 2018. "The Famous Crab" opened to replace it in 2020. Texas Land & Cattle Steakhouse (11900 Dickinson Road) opened in 1999 but closed in January 2017 and was later demolished.
Joe V's Smart Shop / 6100 W. Fuqua Street
This was actually planned as an H-E-B since the mid-2000s and dirt work was done so you could actually see the footprint of the store from the air. Not only did not actually open on the footprint that was previously graded, it didn't open as an H-E-B at all when it was completed and opened in 2015, rather, Joe V's Smart Shop, H-E-B's discount grocer concept.