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Bill Williams Chicken House At 6515 South Main St.


MarthaG

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In the early 60's my mom and dad would load up by brother and I and drive thru downtown to their favorite place to eat shrimp. It was a "drive-in" restaurant and I remember it had huge wooden indians sitting cross legged on the roof.

My mom told me many years ago that at first they would pack by brother and I PB&J sandwiches to eat while they had "Fried Shrimp". Money was tight! Then it got to where my brother and I wanted hamburgers and would be able to talk my mom out of 1 shrimp for each of us. When it got to when we both wanted shrimp, that was the time we stop going there.

Anyone know the name of this place?

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Only one I can think of, with the Indians on top, would be Bill William's on South Main where University Blvd intersected near the Rice U. campus. They had a dining room as well as the drive-in area. The Indians were cooking over a campfire. There was a sign that read, "Fried Chicken, Savage Style".

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Only one I can think of, with the Indians on top, would be Bill William's on South Main where University Blvd intersected near the Rice U. campus. They had a dining room as well as the drive-in area. The Indians were cooking over a campfire. There was a sign that read, "Fried Chicken, Savage Style".

TBird, you hit it right on the ol'noggin. That is the place. I have an excellent reference, my mother. Memory like a steel trap, it's a little rusty, but once you jog her around a little bit, BOOM, she's got it. :D

Edited by TJones
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well, she just turned 57. so maybe by a couple of years.

Well...My glory years there were the early-mid 50's, so I have her beat by a lot more than a couple of years. Tradition was to go to Bill William's if you had a date...usually after a movie. Then, depending on, shall we say, how well you and your date were acquainted, you might go to Hermann Park, park by the lake, and "watch the submarine races". ;) If you didn't have a date, then you would go out to Stuart's and park on the back row and talk cars with other guys and maybe a car full of girls would cruise by looking for some nice boys to buy them a Coke. B)

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BillWilliams.jpg

Great illustration - postcard?

Were there Indians on top of the building at one time, or just the sign? I don't think I ever saw the building; we came to town on Almeda/288, across on Holcombe, then up Fannin to Montrose, and seldom went on Main.

Bill Williams had other restaurants, too.

Anybody have an explanation of what 'fried chicken, savage style' meant? I've heard something from another source but would like to confirm it. Actually, I'd heard it was 'savage skillet style.'

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Great illustration - postcard?

Were there Indians on top of the building at one time, or just the sign? I don't think I ever saw the building; we came to town on Almeda/288, across on Holcombe, then up Fannin to Montrose, and seldom went on Main.

Bill Williams had other restaurants, too.

Anybody have an explanation of what 'fried chicken, savage style' meant? I've heard something from another source but would like to confirm it. Actually, I'd heard it was 'savage skillet style.'

The postcard there says it all, and it says fried chicken SAVAGE style. Those postcards were usually paintings over photographs, so that they would be pretty acurate. B)

Subdude... Thanks for the photo. I have noticed you a a great collection of old photos. What a treasure.

You are right Martha. Subdude's collection is astounding. My bet is that he used to frequent alot of "Stuckey's" roadside marts as a kid on family vacations. Any hints as to where all these come from, Sub.

:D

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Speaking of Stucky's, does anyone remember that now abandoned one on I-10 about half way to Louisiana? I don't know why they thought they could make money way out there in the middle of nowhere.

That was usually the whole point of Stuckey's, :lol: Have them out on the open road, so you could buy the ashtrays and t-shirts saying, whichever state you were about to leave, that mom and dad went there, and all you got was that crappy souvenir. :blink:

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The postcard there says it all, and it says fried chicken SAVAGE style. Those postcards were usually paintings over photographs, so that they would be pretty acurate. B)

I can see what the post card says. I can also see that it does not depict Indians sitting cross-legged on the roof, as described in MarthaG's original post. The restaurant probably was there for a couple of decades; the post card shows it at one point in time. Restaurants have been known to change signage, menus, recipes and menu descriptions over time.

In another forum a couple of years ago a fellow who seems to be very knowledgeable about Houston history, and particularly restaurants, stated that Bill Williams signature dish was Fried Chicken, savage skillet style. I was merely asking if anyone else could confirm that. The answer cannot be divined just by looking at this one post card.

The connection with Indians is curious, anyway. Fried chicken is not a Native American dish.

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I can see what the post card says. I can also see that it does not depict Indians sitting cross-legged on the roof, as described in MarthaG's original post. The restaurant probably was there for a couple of decades; the post card shows it at one point in time. Restaurants have been known to change signage, menus, recipes and menu descriptions over time.

In another forum a couple of years ago a fellow who seems to be very knowledgeable about Houston history, and particularly restaurants, stated that Bill Williams signature dish was Fried Chicken, savage skillet style. I was merely asking if anyone else could confirm that. The answer cannot be divined just by looking at this one post card.

The connection with Indians is curious, anyway. Fried chicken is not a Native American dish.

You don't see the indian sitting crosslegged by the fire there ? Oh, wait, you thought they might be statues sitting on top, I gotcha. No, it was just a painting on top of the building. I've talked to several people who have actually been there, and that's what it looked like.

Edited by TJones
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I remember them being three-dimensional figures, and they were kneeling, one on either side of the fire. They were not on top of the building, rather on the overhand of the entrance. I believe they were on the Fannin Street side, so you wouldn't necessarily see them from Main.

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OK... This from one who actually went there. I can only speak of the mid-late 50's era. There were two, larger than life, Indians sitting/kneeling by a campfire on the roof/overhang. The campfire at night, had glittering lights, such that it appeared, with the technology available at that time, the fire was burning. There were lights shining on the Indians. This display was primarily for the Main Street side, but could have been visible from Fannin. The phrase was "Fried Chicken, Savage Style". No "skillet". See an ad I found in my Rice yearbook of 1954... http://tinypic.com/e99p2v.jpg I also had the pleasure of my first encounter with raw oysters there after a few beers. Absolutely delicious!!

Edited by 57Tbird
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Thanks everybody for the info. I sure wish I had seen the three-dimensional signage and 57TBird - love that 'chicken savage' in the Rice ad! I guess that means BW's opened in 1939, according to the ad, so maybe I'll come across something on it in the old newspapers I'm reading.

I'm sure the guy on the other forum isn't infallible so maybe he misremembered or it was just a typo. Maybe I'll try to rouse him - he doesn't post anymore.

I'm guessing the 'skillet' just meant the chicken was skillet fried rather than deep fried like the fast food joints do today. As famous as Bill Williams was it must've been pretty good. I grew up in Lake Jackson and never ate at BW's but I always heard about it.

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OK... This from one who actually went there. I can only speak of the mid-late 50's era. There were two, larger than life, Indians sitting/kneeling by a campfire on the roof/overhang. The campfire at night, had glittering lights, such that it appeared, with the technology available at that time, the fire was burning. There were lights shining on the Indians. This display was primarily for the Main Street side, but could have been visible from Fannin. The phrase was "Fried Chicken, Savage Style". No "skillet". See an ad I found in my Rice yearbook of 1954... http://tinypic.com/e99p2v.jpg I also had the pleasure of my first encounter with raw oysters there after a few beers. Absolutely delicious!!

57tbird is right, after consulting my references again, mom said,"oh yeah !, there were some indians on that roof, I forgot." she also went on to say how the fire looked like what 57tbird described. That place was apparently very popular. Hey,57tbird, which was delicious, the BEER or the Oysters, or Both !? :lol:

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I remember the Indian cooking over a fire...He was a statue, outlined in neon. That is about where that big clinic and garage are now, between Fannin and Main, at Dryden.

Anyone remember VALLIAN'S near the Shamrock? They had a great ceiling with twinkling stars...like the Hobby Center.

My favorite was Trader Vic's at the Shamrock.

And the SirLoin Inn, on Main at 610, with a Knight on a White Charger out front.

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T-Bird, were you at the Alabama game that year?

No, but a bunch of us were watching it on TV at Kay's on Bissonnett. I'll never forget it. Didn't realize what had happened, at first, when Tommy Lewis of Alabama came off the sideline and decked Dicky Moegle as he was running in the clear for a TD at about the 50 yard line. It happened so fast. No instant replay then. Didn't take long for everything to get straightened out though, and Moegle was given the TD. It made Tommy Lewis an instant celebrity. I think I remember him being on the Ed Sullivan show the next Sunday.

Edited by 57Tbird
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Hey,57tbird, which was delicious, the BEER or the Oysters, or Both !? :lol:

Well.....I'd have to say both. I really miss the raw oysters now. Haven't had any in a long time because of the health issues associated with where they might be harvested. However, I've gotten hungry for some just talking about it, so I just might sneak one or two down on my next visit to the coast.

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Well.....I'd have to say both. I really miss the raw oysters now. Haven't had any in a long time because of the health issues associated with where they might be harvested. However, I've gotten hungry for some just talking about it, so I just might sneak one or two down on my next visit to the coast.

You can go right over to Sam's Boat on richmond. Fresh Oysters and they shuck 'em right there in front of you. When they are in season.

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You can go right over to Sam's Boat on richmond. Fresh Oysters and they shuck 'em right there in front of you. When they are in season.

Would that place be near Weslayan? Is it a restaurant or meat/seafood market? A good friend of mine has mentioned a good meat market in that area, but I don't remember the name. I know this one sells beef, but I'm not sure about the seafood.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Great illustration - postcard?

Were there Indians on top of the building at one time, or just the sign? I don't think I ever saw the building; we came to town on Almeda/288, across on Holcombe, then up Fannin to Montrose, and seldom went on Main.

Bill Williams had other restaurants, too.

Anybody have an explanation of what 'fried chicken, savage style' meant? I've heard something from another source but would like to confirm it. Actually, I'd heard it was 'savage skillet style.'

Here's another one of the Bill Williams restaurants I dug up that was on OST.

williamsmacgregor.jpg

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Here's another one of the Bill Williams restaurants I dug up that was on OST.

williamsmacgregor.jpg

Thanks, Subdude, (and welcome back). I had driven by that intersection a couple of times of late trying to remember the Bill Williams there. I think that curved front strip center on both sides of MLK was there in the 50s.

In my childhood memories I always confused that intersection with Waugh at what is now Allen Parkway, where the Buffalo House stood. Seeing the name Macgregor House on the Bill Williams helps me understand why.

Re: your OST Motel thread - Alamo Plaza is still standing, now 'efficiency apartments.' Doesn't look too bad from the outside. Further east, at 5810, next to Fire Station 40 where OST becomes Wayside, stands the Big State Motel and not far away, around the corner on Telephone, the Sunset Motel. Both were there in the 50s IIRC and are still in operation. I saw another one between 288 and Griggs on OST that's real old, now shuttered, but can't find the scrap of paper I wrote it down on.

Someday I'm going to get over there and get some pics.

Edited by brucesw
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  • 8 months later...
The postcard there says it all, and it says fried chicken SAVAGE style. Those postcards were usually paintings over photographs, so that they would be pretty acurate. B)

You are right Martha. Subdude's collection is astounding. My bet is that he used to frequent alot of "Stuckey's" roadside marts as a kid on family vacations. Any hints as to where all these come from, Sub.

:D

Yes, Stuckey's had racks full of postcards. Subdude needs to try to find out if he's in possession of some "treasures." Who knows? There might be some postcard collectors out there who would pay a good price for some of them.

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Yes, Stuckey's had racks full of postcards. Subdude needs to try to find out if he's in possession of some "treasures." Who knows? There might be some postcard collectors out there who would pay a good price for some of them.

Ash, I believe it to be one of Subdude's hobbies, he doesn't get out much you know. But don't tell him I told you that, ok. ;)

Edited by TJones
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Ash, I believe it to be one of Subdude's hobbies, he doesn't get out much you know. But don't tell him I told you that, ok. ;)

What do you mean "don't tell him"? He can clearly see everything that you, I, and everyone else posts.

Speaking of Stucky's, does anyone remember that now abandoned one on I-10 about half way to Louisiana? I don't know why they thought they could make money way out there in the middle of nowhere.

The one that is now closed down and abondoned is located on IH-10 and FM 1136 just outside of Orange, not far from where I live. The building is still there. To the best of my knowledge, the one on IH-10 between Anahuac and Winnie is still open. But my belief is that its days are numbered. I think that Cracker Barrel and other roadside places will eventually take over. "Stuckeys.Com" says that there are only two Stuckey's on IH-10 in the entire state of Texas: the one between Anahuac and Winnie and one in El Paso.

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As I recall, there were actual wooden indians (painted red) like statues that sat on top....

Does anyone else remember them?

I remember them being three-dimensional figures, and they were kneeling, one on either side of the fire. They were not on top of the building, rather on the overhand of the entrance. I believe they were on the Fannin Street side, so you wouldn't necessarily see them from Main.

Martha and H2B are correct. There were 3D injun savages cookin up Savage Fried Chicken on the roof.

Do either of you remember the buffalo on the Town House at Waugh and Allen Parkway?

townhouse1.jpg

townhouse2.jpg

B)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow! What a cool site. Glad I found it. I'm a native Houstonion, age 50+ so I remember Westbury Square, Gateway Pool and all the other cool places y'all have mentioned here.

Anyway, does anyone have a photo and/or memories of the old lady fortune-telling machine that was inside Bill Williams restaraunt on South Main back in the 50's?

Thanks,

Becky

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Anyway, does anyone have a photo and/or memories of the old lady fortune-telling machine that was inside Bill Williams restaraunt on South Main back in the 50's?

Thanks,

Becky

I have vivid memories of the old lady fortune-telling machine. In fact, I may have mentioned it in an earlier discussion on this website.

However, the Bill Williams that I went to with my parents back in the 60's was the one on Hwy 90 in Richmond. Since 90 becomes South Main, maybe you meant that one (they had several locations)

or maybe the old lady was at all their restaurants!

My parents liked to take a leisurly drive somewhere out of town on the weekend to a favorite restaurant. They brought a cocktail for the road (it was different then, pre-MADD), and we would get drinks and snacks too. Our favorites were Bill Williams in Richmond and Jimmy Walkers in Kemah.

The Bill Williams we went to often had an older lady (another old lady!)playing organ in the dining room. The Fortune Teller was up front near the cashier, next to the baseball game that my brothers and I loved to play. We didn't put much money into the old lady fortune teller, but she stared at us while we played baseball!

Good memories. Houston was different then, but we all knew it was destined for great things. I'm a native.

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I have vivid memories of the old lady fortune-telling machine. In fact, I may have mentioned it in an earlier discussion on this website.

However, the Bill Williams that I went to with my parents back in the 60's was the one on Hwy 90 in Richmond. Since 90 becomes South Main, maybe you meant that one (they had several locations)

or maybe the old lady was at all their restaurants!

The Bill Williams we went to often had an older lady (another old lady!)playing organ in the dining room. The Fortune Teller was up front near the cashier, next to the baseball game that my brothers and I loved to play. We didn't put much money into the old lady fortune teller, but she stared at us while we played baseball!

Good memories.

We went to the Bill Williams near Richmond often, also. That location was beautiful. It was a resort on the river with giant oak trees all around the restaurant, motel, and pool. The fortune-telling lady in the glass box was creepy. I thought she was real at first. We were never allowed to waste any money on the machines. Do you-all remember the wash basins/sinks located in the foyer of the restaurant? There was a tile counter with several basins, soap and towels. I think that was an excellent idea. All restaurants should have that. That way you were clean and ready to eat as soon as you were seated. They placed orange plastic giraffes in our iced tea and had the best rolls with real butter and honey. Bill Williams, Jimmy Walkers, Captain John's, Kaphan's, and Christies were/ are my favorite restaurants.

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  • The title was changed to Bill Williams Chicken House At 6515 South Main St.

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