Hempstead, Texas: The Crossroads of 290 and 6
This revamped page covers Hempstead and Waller County, replacing two pages on the journey between College Station and Houston. Version 3.0 absorbs the other half of the "290 - Hempstead to Grand Parkway" page. Joe's Italian Grill, DaVita Dialysis, Hempstead Seafood & Steak, Pilot Travel Center, McDonald's (FM 1488), Taco Bell (FM 1488), Sonic Drive-In (FM 1488), Shell (FM 1488), Jack in the Box (FM 1488), Shell (Prairie View), Exxon (FM 362), and 20797 FM 362 (former Swamp Shak) have been imported with updates applied as needed. New additions include Pipe & Valve, RCR Hempstead Rail Logistics Park (has its own entry now), Frazier's, and Walmart. Additionally, 29241 Hwy. 6 (now titled as "Buckin' Austin's") has been updated. Fountain Hill Apartments from the old page got merged in.


This starts at FM 2 and continues from the Navasota page.

29869 Hwy. 6
As I used to document this sort of thing on Wikimapia, this gas station at Cedar Creek Road was a "small gas station along Highway 6. Sometime in 2013 (plus or minus a year) this converted to a Citgo (from an Exxon). The Exxon-like sign for the convenience store Frank's Mini Mart remains. There's also a grill adjacent to the gas station that claims to be 'Now Open' but it's always shut." After the new gas station opened up practically across the street, though, the Citgo packed it in for good.

Chevron / 29442 Hwy. 6
The first of two new gas stations that opened along the route in 2020, this Chevron features "FuelMaxx" and a new Dickey's Barbecue Pit (despite the latter's trouble keeping restaurants).

Buckin' Austin's / 29241 Hwy. 6
Buckin' Austin's uses the alternate address of 29233 Highway 6 and claims to be a "family and kid friendly Establishment" (odd capitalization theirs) though is primarily a bar. In the recent past, this was Joe's Italian Grill which opened here around February 2019 but isn't there anymore and moved out sometime in 2020-2021). Other businesses I remember here in the last five years was AJ's Family Restaurant (early 2010s to 2015) and "Cliff Hanger's Country Cafe" (only open from 2/18 to 9/18). An earlier restaurant before even AJ's was Cedar Creek Cafe.

Hill Country BBQ / 27004 Hwy. 6
Opened around 2010 (the RV park behind it opened a bit later), this restaurant is closer to Hempstead's core and generally performs better than the former AJ's and the restaurants that followed it.

Chevron / 24880 Hwy. 6
This Chevron has Best Stop as the c-store and "Big Madre" tacos inside. It was built around the same time as the other Chevron.

Pipe & Valve / 24257 Hwy. 6
For an unknown reason, Google and others put Pipe & Valve at 25668, which would be across the street. This was constructed around 2009.

RCR Hempstead Rail Logistics Park / 23639 Highway 6
South of here is the RCR Hempstead Logistics Park. This rail-based industrial park will have various warehouses with rail connection. It displaced (though did not physically replace) a small farmer's market stand, DiIorio Farms & Roadside Market (Hempstead was once famous for growing watermelons). Sometime in the mid-2010s, this became "DiIorio Farms Partnership" before disappearing and consolidating with its sister operation in Hempstead proper.

Frazier's / 23200 Highway 6
Also known as "Frazier's Ornamental Concrete", this store and sprawling outdoor concrete showroom has been in this location since 2004.


Welcome to Highway 290! This road section predates the creation of Carbon-izer itself and was originally focused on right-of-way demolitions, but everything has gotten extensively rewritten over the years.
After driving on the section between Navasota and Hempstead, we would see it...a ramp, jutting three full levels up into the air and curving the entire way into 290 East. Today, they have little dividers to mark the ramp (those didn't appear until some point after spring 2008 but not much longer afterward). Symbolizing this great change from the rural Highway 6 to the wide, smooth environs of Highway 290 was the massive Lawrence Marshall Hempstead car dealership. "We clobber big city prices!", they bragged, advertising to Houston and College Station while giving the Hempstead economy a big boost. Well, that didn't work out when the auto industry imploded. LMH closed in February 2009 and over the next several years, I would watch sadly as the place started to deteriorate, as the banners of the auto makers faded and eventually fell off (you can see them with the slider feature on Google Maps Street View). There was also a large electronic sign to be seen as one accelerated onto the highway. As of August 2016, there is now BARRY Fleet Services taking up part of the Highway 6 side of the vast complex.

Still, you were able to see a large McDonald's/Exxon sign in the distance, and the adventure began.

Joe's Italian Grill / 260 Cottonwood Drive
Built around 2020, this restaurant relocated from Highway 6 heading north.

DaVita Dialysis / 220 Cottonwood Drive
Built here in spring 2015, I was expecting this (when it was under construction) to be a restaurant of some sort. That wasn't the case, unfortunately.

Hempstead Seafood & Steak / 210 Cottonwood Drive
This modestly popular restaurant opened in 2011, but it only occupies half of the building.

Pilot Travel Center / 2000 FM 1488
Originally known as Hempstead Truck Stop and opened in November 2000, this station combined an Exxon sign and a McDonald's on its fading dual-pronged sign, and it was a great reminder to the road trips I took with my family in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including (but definitely not limited to) the Houston area. Imagine the hole in my heart when I drove up around December 2017 to find that the Exxon sign and the price display was missing, leaving a lopsided lone McDonald's sign there.

While Exxon/McDonald's combos are relatively common, the Hempstead Truck Stop originally was combined with a Denny's, which had the address of 100 Cottonwood (the small access road between the truck stop and the westbound on-ramp) rather than 2000 FM 1488. The McDonald's is located next to it (and it appears to have been renovated between 2012 and 2014). From what I was able to figure out, the Denny's had the side closest to the freeway and had a doorway that faced Cottonwood (the freeway side) while the north side of the building was occupied by the convenience store portion.

From what I'd read on Yelp, the Denny's was bad even by Denny's standards (dirty, poor service, and smelled like cigarette smoke) and downsized in early 2016 (February or March, though construction probably started in 2015) for a Subway in the southeast corner of the building. The Subway shared the convenience store's address but did not open into the rest of the complex. At some point (I want to say near the end, because I didn't really notice it until then) the gas station also had a Krispy Krunchy fried chicken program going on.

The Denny's didn't open until 2003, probably why the Denny's didn't co-share the sign, but in spring 2017 it closed and was replaced with "Country Delight Cafe", which replaced the Denny's logo with a simple black and white logo and was a sign of things to come. Based on some tax records, it appears that both the gas station and Denny's closed at the same time, with Country Delight Cafe taking up Denny's space until it closed less than a year later. By January 2018, the whole gas station had been closed and gutted (except for Subway), which had its facade missing and could be accessed from Cottonwood.

Pilot Travel Center (#573) opened in May 2018. The center had a bumpy start (in June, the restrooms were out of service, and they told patrons to use Subway's) and the Dunkin' Donuts that it advertised is little more than a kiosk. (It also features Pilot Flying J's "PJ Fresh" concept). The center still doesn't connect to Subway and there's no entrance from the Cottonwood side anymore.

I should also note that FM 1488 does connect to the more northern suburbs of Houston, but it's not continuous (still very rural) and not used as a loop road.

McDonald's / 2100 FM 1488
McDonald's opened in November 2000 like Hempstead Truck Stop but it did not actually share the convenience store's space, just sharing signage with a separate building. It was renovated (to not have a mansard roof) around 2013-2014.

Taco Bell / 2150 FM 1488
Taco Bell opened in November 2019. It connects to the McDonald's parking lot (and by extension, Pilot Travel Center's).

Sonic Drive-In / 2045 FM 1488
The Sonic was built in 2001 and has highwayside signage but it doesn't connect to the freeway frontage road.

Shell / 1945 FM 1488
This gas station (opened 2002) included a Long John Silvers inside (a bit uncommon, especially for gas stations), though it was fully integrated into the gas station (there was a counter and some seating inside), which meant the whole store probably smelled like greasy fried food. An actual stop to the store in mid-March 2016 revealed that the store was in the midst of changing it to a Chesters Fried Chicken. Signage on the inside was gone, and there was an employee meeting going on. Despite that, there were a lot of LJS décor leftovers inside. (Furthermore, tax records indicate that LJS had been gone for a year at that point).

Chesters was not long for this world, by summer 2017, Chesters was already out, replaced with "Southern Kitchen Kountry Cooking" (also known as Southern Kitchen and More), a one-off which advertises barbecue. It appears to have closed during the COVID-19 epidemic, and it was eventually replaced by El Llanito Mexican Taqueria.

Additionally, a small storage shed was built between the drive-through and the highway in the late 2010s (replacing a much smaller one that did not block the view of the gas station).

Jack in the Box / 1925 FM 1488
Until September 2016, I never went to this Jack in the Box (built in 2002, so it's newer than Waller's, if that matters). When I did, I found it remarkably similar to the other one at Waller, and today I prefer this one on my Houston trips since it's much easier to get in and out, and less crowded. It was arguably cleaner, too.

Shell / 420 University Drive
This exit is also the access road to Prairie View A&M University, a historically African-American campus originally created as the segregated "colored" counterpart to what is now Texas A&M University in College Station, and because of that (and a comparatively fancy underpass (showing age, of course), which looked out of place compared to the rest of the stretch) seemed like it should've been a major commerical center.

This Shell, opened 2019, is one of the first installations of a commercial base at this intersection, has a Checkers sharing signage with it. However, Checkers isn't part of it, it sits next to it at 418 University Drive (and unusually has an eat-in area). The Shell itself has Fuel Maxx with a "Taco Corner" counter (and space for another restaurant inside where Checkers could've gone). It's about time--it's a significant university (and they are building lots of apartments around the area) but there was previously no commercial base at the highway; no gas stations or restaurants, except for a location of Williams Fried Chicken from 2003 to 2011 at 608 University on the other side of the freeway. Frenchy's replaced it and had a large colorful sign even though it closed about a year later and was reduced to rubble by the end of 2013. (The Frenchy's sign remained, though grew grimier until a tarp eventually covered it).

Just to the east is the Fountain Hill Apartments at 702 Santee Street, some rather unattractive-looking apartments built around 2019-2020, with a freeway view.

20797 FM 362
The Swamp Shak seafood restaurant appeared sometime in early 2015, though a Yelp review seems to indicate they've been active since April 2014. Normal activity stopped around 2016 (the Facebook page before it got defaced confirmed this), though current signage on the restaurant (defunct) indicates it is used as a fireworks stand seasonally, at last check. In better times the restaurant featured a sculpture of a man riding on a shrimp but this has also been removed.

Exxon / 20727 FM 362
FM 362 I've always felt (pre-widening) going eastbound that the road went way way too high with sharp dropoffs before adding guardrails at the very top (at least they have shoulders), moreso than other overpasses in this part of 290. In any case, this is where we'll stop before continuing on. This is a picture from February 2014 of Waller County Line BBQ from the highway (sorry for the quality).

Waller County Line BBQ, a large Exxon (as of summer/early fall 2019, formerly a Shell) station was built in December 1997. In 2002 a bar called Trails End was added in a second suite, around 2007 it closed and gave way to Cedar Creek Saloon, a smoky poorly-lit honky-tonk with pool and cheap beer.

290 continues beyond FM 362 at this link. From here on out, it's only going to get more populated.


There was a time before the bypass was complete, and I know that I was able to shake loose a few long-forgotten memories driving through Business 290. However, there's much I can report on Hempstead not already written down here, apart from this abandoned Shell station that was previously covered.

Walmart / 625 Highway 290 East
This "Division 1" Walmart store (previously bannered as "Wal-Mart", of course) opened in September 1986 according to Bluepages Wiki. While I have visited this store before I unfortunately do not have a picture of it, though I thought I did. (Bummer.)

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