Carbon-izer Presents Waco - Baylor Area Fast Foods
Baylor Area Fast Foods

One of the more interesting things I discovered fairly early on in Waco, long before the establishment of this website, was a cluster of fast food restaurants on the north side of I-35. This "fast food alley" originally consisted of four blocks but has since expanded to six. Its 1972 origin brings back some humorous comparisons to The Simpsons' "Fast Food Boulevard" and serves much of the same purpose. A contemporary Google Maps screenshot is above, showing the general area. I should note that as of this writing it partially replaces Other Waco Roads as well as taking a bit from the I-35 page.

Starting with Valero at 901 South 5th Street, this is not technically a food establishment but still serves a similar function. This was built in 1985 and for years was Diamond Shamrock with a "Corner Store", though at least it was Payless Gas from 1985 to 1991. By late 2007 it was converted to a Valero (the convenience store getting a turquoise-themed facelift as well) and in 2019 converted to a Circle K (the convenience store portion).

Next to Valero is a McDonald's (906 S. 6th Street). This restaurant dates back to 1972 (built shortly after the original Valley Mills store) but it was torn down in 2007 and rebuilt, with the above photo showing the 1972 restaurant. Click the above picture to see the full picture (courtesy McLennan County Appraisal District).

Directly behind the Valero and McDonald's are Wendy's and Taco Bell, respectively. The Wendy's originally opened in 1978 (inside and out renovation done in the early 2010s) and has the address of 811 S. 5th Street, but has no access from 6th Street. This Taco Bell's sign is very visible from I-35 but not directly accessible from it and originally had the address of 824 S. 6th Street when it opened in 1984, as well as an old "Mission" style facade (which has since been expanded/renovated out). Likely it no longer has the 6th Street address due to no longer having accessibility from it (it now has the address of 500 Cleveland Street), though there's nothing preventing anyone from driving into the parking lot from the parking lot of CAVA.

Finally, directly behind Taco Bell and Wendy's is CAVA and Torchy's Tacos, respectively. CAVA (812 S. 6th Street) opened in December 2023 and replaced McAlister's Deli, which closed in March 2023 after being open since 2002. It was previously Raymond's 6th Street Grill (2000-2001), Wimpy's Hamburgers (1998-2000), Golden Fried Chicken (1995-1997), and Archie's Hamburgers (1985-1995). I did find a commercial for Archie's in its later days, found here.

Fazoli's at 919 S. 6th Street was built in 1974 as Pizza Inn, which it still was as of 1991. At some point in the 1990s it closed and became a Fazoli's, complete with a building renovation. Behind it is Dutch Bros Coffee (901 S. 6th Street). This drive-through coffeeshop replaced a Long John SIlver's restaurant that operated in this spot from 1975 to 2018, when it was torn down and replaced with Dutch Bros (opened October 2021). The block after that features Hawaiian Bros Island Grill (801 S. 6th Street). This chain restaurant opened in May 2022. From 1994 to January 2020, this was Taco Cabana. By the time it closed it may not have been 24 hours anymore as the chain was originally known for.

Next to Hawaiian Bros on 6th Street is Sonic Drive-In at 801 S. 6th Street here since 1993. It's not the oldest Sonic in town, that honor goes to the one in the Robinson area, open since 1985. The vacant building next to it (723 S. 6th Street) was built as the two level Tres Mexican Restaurant, a two level restaurant, which operated from summer 2011 to summer 2015. The top level was a bar, the bottom part was the main restaurant. It closed in 2015 after being open for about four or five years. In December 2016, Fortune Cookie Express opened in the spot, with the top level now being a milk tea bar, but closed in 2021. (This was adapted/based on from a Wikimapia description I wrote a long time ago).

Next up is Whataburger at 928 South 7th Street (which has I-35 access). This Whataburger (#140) opened in October 2016 to replace an older restaurant (from 1975), which it tore down and rebuild. The original lot was smaller, with some older parking north of the restaurant at Cleveland and 7th that was used for Sul Ross Elementary School across the street. Chick-fil-A at 901 South 7th Street opened October 2014 and took the address of Sul Ross Elementary School, which once occupied this entire block (save for a few houses at the southwest corner), but it closed in 2012, and met the wrecking ball a few years later (along with aforementioned houses). Interestingly, this is referred to the Baylor University Chick-fil-A (officially) even though Baylor is across I-35. When the Chick-fil-A was built, a pedestrian walkway existed to connect it to Baylor, though this was torn down in highway widening. I'm not sure when Sul Ross Elementary School was originally built. The rest of the Sul Ross space was filled with Panera Bread (1000 South 8th Street, opened summer 2016) and Andy's Frozen Custard (900 S. 8th Street) opened in 2019.

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