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Defunct Dunlavy Fiesta, Its Previous Incarnations, Its Neighbors


Libbie

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Has anyone been connected to the defunct Dunlavy Fiesta (1994-2012), its strip center neighbors, and its past lives, during any subset of the past five or (nearly) six decades? From my earliest memory until maybe 1959, the location was known to Branard street dwellers as "the vacant lot at the end of the block," or to some neighborhood children as "The weeds."  It was a sort of untidy but pleasant unofficial park. Then, some time between mid and end-of decade, the construction started, and the lot was vacant no more.

 

The Weingarten's that had been at 1420 Richmond Ave (The building's still there; in the '70s it was a country-western dance hall) closed and relocated to the Dunlavy Fiesta site.  To its right, little by little, there grew up a T.G.&Y store, a Mading's Drug (Does anyone have a picture from that era? ) which later became an Eckerd's, a Supermatic Cleaners, and a barber shop. There was a Junior Achievement building a little to the south, sharing the same big parking lot. (The latter MAY have been the first thing constructed, on the site, pre-Weingartens. Memory fails on that point).  Thus, instead of "The vacant lot at the end of the block," there was the Weingarten's at the end of the block, along with its companions.  At first it was possible to walk from Mandell down Branard to Weingarten's, but crime started to increase on that dead end street, so the roadblock was made imprenetrable to foot traffic as well as car traffic.  (It helped).

 

I don't know the year that the Weingarten's became a Safeway.  It and most other Safeways became Apple Tree in the early '90s, of course, and then in '94 the Dunlavy Apple Tree became Fiesta. I liked it because it was one of the few supermarkets still small enough to just run in, grab a few things, and run out. And I especially liked it because it represented a chain of continuity with my childhood: the grocery store, whatever its name, at the end of the block.

 

So I was sorry two years ago when it and its companion businesses fell to the wrecking ball. The HEB across the street is pleasant and well-stocked, although pretty big for the park-and-run-in-and-run-out sort of shopping that Fiesta/Apple Tree/Safeway/Weingarten's permitted. I was sorry to see it go. It was, for me, at least, the end of an era.

 

 

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I don't have any history to add but out of all the grocery stores in Houston that little Fiesta was by far my favorite. I only started shopping there in 2005 but I loved its small size and selection. I suppose the eclectic items reflected the clientele along with stocking the regular everyday staples we all need.

 

The only grocery store like it that I know of is Fresh Market in terms of small footprint but they're catering to a more high end consumer. Along with the history of the shopping center, does anyone remember much about the old apartment complex across the street that is now the HEB? It looked so old before it was torn down. Does anyone have any history on it?

Edited by atomictelephone
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I don't have any history to add but out of all the grocery stores in Houston that little Fiesta was by far my favorite. I only started shopping there in 2005 but I loved its small size and selection. I suppose the eclectic items reflected the clientele along with stocking the regular everyday staples we all need.

 

The only grocery store like it that I know of is Fresh Market in terms of small footprint but they're catering to a more high end consumer. Along with the history of the shopping center, does anyone remember much about the old apartment complex across the street that is now the HEB? It looked so old before it was torn down. Does anyone have any history on it?

 

The old apartment complex was called Wilshire Village. It was there when Fiesta was still a vacant lot, and it was there till it was torn down for the erecting of HEB.  In the early sixties its manager was a Mrs. Davis. I went to school (Montrose Elementary) with her daughter, and I played with her there a time or two. In recent years it declined greatly.

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Wilshire Village was an apartment complex built in 1940 and torn down in 2009. H-E-B didn't actually buy it until around mid-2010, and the whole transfer went down in some shady real estate shenanigans, which can be read on Swamplot by digging deeper into the past (2010, 2009). The new H-E-B opened in fall 2011.

As far as I know, the grocery store at Dunlavy opened in the mid-1960s as a Weingarten, became Safeway in 1984 when the then-owners of Weingarten, Grand Union, dumped the chain (one carried on a few more years as an independent, but that's irrelevant), that became AppleTree in 1989 after Safeway spun off the Texas stores, and finally in 1994 AppleTree shut down and it was converted to Fiesta. And you know the rest...

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The old apartment complex was called Wilshire Village. It was there when Fiesta was still a vacant lot, and it was there till it was torn down for the erecting of HEB.  In the early sixties its manager was a Mrs. Davis. I went to school (Montrose Elementary) with her daughter, and I played with her there a time or two. In recent years it declined greatly.

Libbie, sounds like you have vivid memories of the place. The thing that always struck me about it was even in its neglected state which is only how I knew it to be, that complex had a charm about it and I had the sense back in its heyday it would have looked really nice and certainly well built. I don't necessarily mean luxurious or anything, but nice. And I dug those courtyards.

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Wilshire Village was an apartment complex built in 1940 and torn down in 2009. H-E-B didn't actually buy it until around mid-2010, and the whole transfer went down in some shady real estate shenanigans, which can be read on Swamplot by digging deeper into the past (2010, 2009). The new H-E-B opened in fall 2011.

As far as I know, the grocery store at Dunlavy opened in the mid-1960s as a Weingarten, became Safeway in 1984 when the then-owners of Weingarten, Grand Union, dumped the chain (one carried on a few more years as an independent, but that's irrelevant), that became AppleTree in 1989 after Safeway spun off the Texas stores, and finally in 1994 AppleTree shut down and it was converted to Fiesta. And you know the rest...

 

Fascinating stuff. I remember after the complex had been torn down and it was vacant for some months, a sign appeared posted somewhere, on a tree perhaps, that said something along the lines of "this would make a great park". That sign didn't last very long.

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Libbie, sounds like you have vivid memories of the place. The thing that always struck me about it was even in its neglected state which is only how I knew it to be, that complex had a charm about it and I had the sense back in its heyday it would have looked really nice and certainly well built. I don't necessarily mean luxurious or anything, but nice. And I dug those courtyards.

 

You dug those courtyards? Wow!

 

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If I had to guess, the Weingarten opened in '64 or '65, because the Fiesta's lease was supposed to expire in 2014, which would give the grocery store a full 50 years lease.

HCAD (link) says the shopping center was built in 1962 (the Wilshire Village Shopping Center, that is, which is what was built and the Susanne replaced), and the "Economic Obsolescence" being "Very Poor". However, that may or may not be the date Weingarten opened. Maybe '63.

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Libby, did you live on Branard? We lived on the next street over at 1525 Sul Ross. I well remember the vacant lot but after graduation in 63 I left for college and don't remember a lot about the area after that time period. I did notice in later years passing through the area that a grocery store had went up at that location. I have lots of fond memories from the fifties and early sixties of that area.

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Here are a few photos I took of the Wilshire Village apartments back in June of 2009. Sorry for the 2009-era smartphone quality. It appeared that there were still a few folks living there at the time. I also recall a blog somewhere where someone posted photos of the inside of some of the units before demo. 

 

http://s378.photobucket.com/user/chipdigits/slideshow/HAIF/Wilshire%20Village

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Libby, did you live on Branard? We lived on the next street over at 1525 Sul Ross. I well remember the vacant lot but after graduation in 63 I left for college and don't remember a lot about the area after that time period. I did notice in later years passing through the area that a grocery store had went up at that location. I have lots of fond memories from the fifties and early sixties of that area.

 

Yes, I did. I lived on Branard from 1951 to 1969.

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If I had to guess, the Weingarten opened in '64 or '65, because the Fiesta's lease was supposed to expire in 2014, which would give the grocery store a full 50 years lease.

HCAD (link) says the shopping center was built in 1962 (the Wilshire Village Shopping Center, that is, which is what was built and the Susanne replaced), and the "Economic Obsolescence" being "Very Poor". However, that may or may not be the date Weingarten opened. Maybe '6

Regarding the year 1962 and the timeline:  I know that for a short time after  the closing of the 1420 Richmond Ave. Weingarten's, there opened (for a year, maybe, or less?) a store--indistinguishable from Weingarten's--called Texas Serve-all.  And I'm fairly sure it was before 1962: maybe 1961 or 1960.

 

In fact, my memory tells me that the sequence of events were  (1) the closing of the Richmond Ave. Weingarten's  (2) the opening of the new Dunlavy Weingarten's where the vacant lot was no more

(3) the new Weingarten's suddenly and briefly changing its name to Texas Serve-all 

(4) the "Serve-all," after a year or less, changing its name back to Weingarten's.

 

This last change would have ocurred about 1962, I feel sure. And before too long, there appeared the T.G.&Y and the Mading's drug, converting the place, as it were, into a strip center, where at the very beginning (I think) it had been just a grocery store.

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I think I remember the Kinkaid private school being across, or almost across, the street from the Richmond Weingarten's.  Correct??

 

Yes, it was. I know because, as a small child I was taken along with my parents to the polling place when they said, "We're going to Kincaid to vote." (I was too small to know what a kincaid was, but I took them at their word). 

 

Then in maybe 1958 or so, the Kincaid building was bought by the Seventh Day Adventist church, and it was a church and religious school from then until at least the end of the '60s.

 

The house next door to mine on Branard was purchased to be their parsonage; the pastors were apparently transferred frequently, and I played with--and later babysat--the children of the pastors of the church-that-was-located-where-Kincaid-used-to-be.  Without exception, the families were excellent neighbors.  Is  the Richmond Ave.  Post Office what's on the site now?

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  • 1 month later...

I have some fond memories, it was the little neighborhood store my wife and I shopped at when we first got married in 2004. Sad to see it go, but what they have done since at that intersection is really nice. I agree about HEBs, nice selection when you really want to shop, but when you run in for a few things, I find the maze annoying, feel like I am a cow in a shoot designed by Temple Grandin.

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I agree about HEBs, nice selection when you really want to shop, but when you run in for a few things, I find the maze annoying, feel like I am a cow in a shoot designed by Temple Grandin.

 

:lol: Well, that's one way to look at it.

 

Central Market's much worse in that regard than the "regular" HEBs, IMO. Except Ms. Grandin probably wouldn't have insisted in passing out organic free-range grass samples to cows at endcaps, thus ensuring a traffic chokepoint as the herd stops dead in its tracks and begins mooing contentedly. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Weingarten's on Richmond later became the Texas Opry House, I think. I am pretty sure that the property is now a gallery that is part of the Menil Collection. According to HCAD, the building (at 1416 Richmond) was constructed in 1930.

After it was a Weingartens it became Van's Stamped Ballroom, later the name changed to Make Mine Country. The order of names may have been reversed and it could have been MMC first. I was a regular there throughout both incarnations. It could have later become the Texas Opry House after I quit frequenting the place.

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After it was a Weingartens it became Van's Stamped Ballroom, later the name changed to Make Mine Country. The order of names may have been reversed and it could have been MMC first. I was a regular there throughout both incarnations. It could have later become the Texas Opry House after I quit frequenting the place.

 

I was also a gay disco in the 80's named the Parade.

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Yes, Wilshire Village was quite desirable even up into the early 80s.  I know people who lived there and loved it although some of the buildings were starting to show their lack of maintenance.  Hardwood floors, carefully considered ventilation from metal windows, and stainless steel kitchen cabinets as I recall.

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'Twas the Opry House.  I lived around the corner from it during my student days in the late '70s - we considered it to be quite the neighborhood amenity (older, closer neighbors perhaps not so much).

 

But in the very early 70s it was Van's Stampede Ballroom.  Girlfriends and I went there during that time.  By early '72 I moved out of the area.

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