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HK Dodgen Loop




Unless I'm cutting through to Belton or Killeen more directly, Loop 363 is the "introduction" to Temple, and I've always kind of liked it. Maybe it was because it was associated with road trips, maybe because it bore a passing resemblance to the way College Station used to be (including an extant Mazzio's that lasted for well over a decade after the College Station store closed), maybe it was because it acted as an extension of Waco (the greater area is sometimes referred to "Waco-Temple-Killeen"), and I like Waco too.

Today, most of SW HK Dodgen Loop is a modern freeway with frontage roads, exits, shoulders (inner and outer), overhead signs, and concrete barriers, far better than the dowdier Earl Rudder Freeway. Until around the late 2000s, this wasn't the case, as the highway was hardly a freeway at all, with crossovers between the mainlanes, outdated exit geometry (if it even had exits at all), and poor lighting. This section covers 363 between I-35 and the South 5th Street overpass. Odd numbered buildings are on the south side of the freeway, even numbers on the north.

Going south, 363 turns into TX-95, which intersects 290 in Elgin (the 95 designation jogs east along 290 before going south again), while to the east, eventually intersects with US-79 in Milano.

This is Version 2.1 of this page, fixing a critical error relating to the closure of the Burger King.

VETERANS MEMORIAL DRIVE

The highway begins here, even though there's a stoplight at Veterans Memorial. It used to have ramps and flyovers, though in both directions, Loop 363 squeezed into one lane for the bypass part.

Saigon Cafe / 220 SW HK Dodgen Loop
My mid-1990s restaurant listing mentions that this was "Emperors of China" in 1995, and in the early 2010s I visited it with my brother and father as Saigon Cafe. At the time I thought it was pretty good but otherwise I can't remember much of it, including what I actually ordered. Next to Saigon Cafe, across from Fryers Creek Lane, is the sad and strange tale of Cactus Jack's.

Gather 'round for the tale: Cactus Jack's at 300 SW H.K. Dodgen Loop was built in 1976 as a different business (in the mid-1990s it was "Market Street Cafe") but the history of Cactus Jack's has a truly bizarre history. It was founded as Cactus Jack's Steak House in 2005 (though BBB indicates the year 2003) by a woman named Donna Passentino. Before Passentino's death in 2011, the restaurant had a dinner menu with steaks and other entrees, but despite the restaurant attempting to carry on, by 2012 the restaurant dropped the food options and was simply a bar with no mention of food. (The "Steak House" remained on the signage). Signage outside mentioned looking for a new food partner to convert it to a Mexican restaurant, and in 2013, it became Cactus Jack's Sushi Bar & Japanese Restaurant (that was short lived), and became Cactus Jack's Sports Cantina in 2014. A few years after that, Brody's Steakhouse moved in (from a different location) as a restaurant-within-a-bar moved in, before the whole place burned to the ground in November 2019 from an improperly disposed cigarette, and there's video evidence to show for it. The general manager vowed to rebuild, though as of this update (3/21), I don't believe anything has happened yet.

Sunny's / 321 SW HK Dodgen Loop
I'm not sure if it's related to the Sunny's convenience stores in Houston (in fact, I'm not sure if the Houston stores are related to each other) but this gas station, formerly a Mobil, converted to a generic gas station that basically resembles an ersatz Exxon with yellow instead of red, almost like a royalty-free version of more famous brands.

The Barrington / 401 S.W. H. K. Dodgen Loop
The Barrington Suites and Apartments sounds like a winner in theory, with its close-to-Scott & White location for long-term (month) stays but reviews are mixed. It does not seem to really run with the idea of a motel/apartment hybrid, there's a shared pool but no on-site restaurant/coffee shop.

Lowe's / 605 S.W. HK Dodgen Loop
The Lowe's here was built in '96 and adjacent to its own named road, Lowes Drive, which actually goes into residential neighborhoods and has several houses off of it.


SOUTH 31ST STREET

One of the two main overpasses on the highway, and busy due to being the main access to the Scott & White hospital.

Starbucks / 1313 SW H K Dodgen Loop
This Starbucks was opened as a Golden Chick (Golden Fried Chicken) and became Starbucks Coffee at some point in the 2000s.

Whataburger / 1415 SW H K Dodgen Loop
I remember stopping at this Whataburger sometime in late 2016 or early 2017 after a day of outside work at a ranch. While the cold drink and the protein of the hamburger revived my spirits, I was intrigued by the large, "Playplace" part of the building, as if it had a playground at one point. The room was closed to the public (it was used as employee offices/storage, apparently) and while the thought of Whataburger having a playground wasn't out of the question (I seemed to recall a kid's meal mascot, for instance) it hadn't actually occurred to me that it was in fact not a Whataburger to begin with, having been a Burger King built around 1999 but closed within a decade. It was seized by U.S. Marshals in November 2004 and by November 2007 was operating as a Whataburger.

Kohl's / 3170 S. 31st Street
One of the main anchors of the "MarketPlace" shopping center (the other being an H-E-B), this Kohl's was originally a Montgomery Ward, shuttered at the end of the chain's life but remained with signage up into the early to mid 2000s. The Kohl's opened in September 2011 according to this article.

Denny's / 1420 SW H K Dodgen Loop
I need to make a Mazzio's page sometime in the near future but this used to be one of their stores, and maintained their old 1980s logo into the late 2000s. A Facebook question asks why it closed so abruptly, and that's dated to November 2013. The new Denny's opened in fall 2020 and is the first in Temple since the one off I-35 (the old Kettle) closed. (See the I-35 page for that one).

902 SW H K Dodgen Loop
This restaurant opened as an Olive Garden around 1991 and closed in 2002, with the replacement, Yank Sing Chinese Restaurant, opening soon after. It resembles its sister restaurant in Killeen (a former Luby's where 23 people were killed in a 1993 shooting), but closed recently; the last Yelp review was January 2019. The Killeen location remains open.

2416 S.W. H.K. Dodgen Loop
A former Fazoli's, see our in-house Former Fazoli's list! It has yet to be reopened as anything else.


SOUTH 57TH STREET / OAKDALE STREET

Bob Mills Furniture / 2100 S. 61st Street
This former Lubbock-based Lacks Furniture (closed at the end of 2010) reopened as Bob Mills in spring 2012.

Jack in the Box / 3608 SW H K Dodgen Loop
Jack in the Box was originally at 3606 until the highway was widened to be a full freeway in this section, and the original had to be demolished. The current restaurant was built in 2006.


SOUTH GENERAL BRUCE DRIVE (INTERSTATE 35)

Interstate 35 east of the highway was recently widened and depressed as part of a major I-35 rebuild. See our I-35 page here.
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