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Bill Williams Chicken House Locations


roym

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Bill Williams Restaurant

6515 South Main

Postcard posted by Subdude:

BillWilliams.jpg

Bill Williams MacGregor House

5100 OST

Postcard posted by Subdude:

williamsmacgregor.jpg

billwilliams023nh.jpg

From the 1954 Rice Yearbook (I think someone here at HAIF originally posted this):

billwilliamsad1954riceyearbook.jpg

billwillams011ia.jpg

billwilliams032cm.jpg

billwilliamsashtray01a8mq.jpg

billwilliams06a2mj.jpg

billwilliams07a5fo.jpg

Some other Bill Williams threads at HAIF:

Defunct Houston Restaurants Post #43

Take A Walk Down Main Street Pt 2 Post #2

Photos I'm Looking For Post #105

Anyone Remember Drive In With Indians On Top Post #2

Some stories from the Usenet group Houston.Eats (all original authors credited):

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: Mike <mhurley@hia.net>

Date: 1999/01/26

Subject: Re: Restaurant of Yore - What Was It?

Kennon Baird wrote:

> I only ate there two or three times, back in '73 - '74.

> It was a seafood place, on the east side of South Main. It might have

> been fairly close to Rice.

Sounds like Christies, but it was closer to 610 on the west side of South

Main. But sureley you would have remembered the gigantic "Shrimp" on a pole.

That shrimp was still there about a year ago.

Your're probably thinking about "Bill Williams". It was on the east side

of main near Rice. Famous for it's fried chicken, but also had one of the

original "oyster" bars in it. Great place.

BTW, who remembers the "original" Captain Bennys on S. Main near the

Shamrock? It was actually in a "real" boat.

> The atmosphere was sort of diner-like. The decor was authentic

> threadbare 50s. Naturally, almost everything was fried. It was pretty

> doggone good.

> I recall it being a longish room, which ran parallel to main. Seems

> like there were formica-topped tables.

> I think it closed in the mid-70s.

-

/\/\ike

-----------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: digisrvs@spamenot.computize.com (John Moran)

Date: 1999/01/27

Subject: Re: Restaurant of Yore - What Was It?

In article <36AE38DE.516E0E44@hia.net>, mhurley@NOSPAMhia.net wrote:

> Your're probably thinking about "Bill Williams". It was on the east side

> of main near Rice. Famous for

> it's fried chicken, but also had one of the original "oyster" bars in

> it. Great place.

Bill Williams Chicken in the Rough, with the wonderful neon sign of 2

Indians cooking over a fire, and there was the curb service parking lot.

It's now underneath some of the Medical Center. The Curb Service lot was

a drag racers gathering place on Friday nites and on Saturday after races

were finished at Houston International Speedway. In the late 60s/early

70s, some very serious street iron and money on races was tossed around

that place.

> BTW, who remembers the "original" Captain Bennys on S. Main near the

> Shamrock? It was actually in a "real" boat.

Yep, it was next to Valians, and the boat tradition was carried on in

later variations; one on I-10West near Voss started life as a Captain

Bennys, then became just The Captains and it too is now gone. I think the

one on Gray, East of Shepherd was part of the same group, but it had a

fire and I'm uncertain what the exact status of that one is or who's

running it. The originals had Eggzellent oysters on the half shell,

boiled shrimp plus fried catfish etc. Texas/Louisiana sushi at its best.

o yes, Cash Only Please at the one on the Katy Fwy. !

--------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: vonroach@popd.ix.netcom.com (Professor Vonroach)

Date: 1999/08/19

Subject: Re: Order Errors - what would you have done?

Sevil's became Stewart's (now a blockbuster store I believe) Prince's

open across the road. They had others down on SMain and on NMain. The

Buccaneer was a big one on S Main. But, probably the champ was Bill

Williams out on SMain roughly across from Rice U (from whence sprang

Captain Benny) It remained a good Med Center Restaurant long after the

drive-in business cratered. Stewart's put in an elevated stage and

featured a black combo for a time. There was another further out SMain

that featured a screen showing animated comic shorts (later became an

ice house/convience store and trailer park - store part recently

demolished to make way for SMain modifications). First `McDonald's I

knew was a drive-in on Wayside Drive (unrelated to California

MacDonald's chain) Drive-ins were often site of impromptu `pep

rallies' after local football games, that spawned some trifling

violence - about the only violence associated with schools in those

old days. - The English writer was right - one can't `go home' !

Enjoy it while you've got; you've no idea of how great it will seem

when it's gone.

------------------------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: vonroach@popd.ix.netcom.com (Professor Vonroach)

Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 23:20:45 GMT

Local: Mon, Jul 23 2001 5:20 pm

Subject: Re: Recommendations wanted

Close to Anderson, on South Main, near OST: Captain Benny's. Benny

started as an oyster shucker for Bill Williams on SMain before Bill

closed. He latched on to Bill's recipes with Bill's permission and

opened his own place on SMain near Holcombe, moved to SMain at

Greenbriar, and then to present location. (Has others around town, but

SMain is the original). Little other than seafood. Not a fancy place

and may be a little crowded when it opens at 11AM til afternoon with a

local crowd, including quite a few from Med Center. If you want an

Italian flair try D'Amico's in the Village, also lots of seafood

dishes, and a crowd from the area including the Med Center around

noon. It's on Morningside Street a few blocks off Holcombe. Also a

long story here, but I won't bend your ear. It's also not too fancy.

Seabrook and Kemah are both on the decline and don't have much to

offer anymore other than overpriced run-of-the-mill food. If you are

going that far, might as well go on to Gaido's on the seawall in

Galveston - excellent seafood for decades.

---------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: john <nomail@this.address>

Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 21:34:17 -0500

Local: Wed, Aug 21 2002 8:34 pm

Subject: Re: Panjo's Locations, WAS:Re: Restaurants of Yore

In article <M5M89.320775$q53.10348105@twister.austin.rr.com>,

"Jack Tyler" <marketingpro@houston.rr.com> wrote:

> Sally and I had dinner last night with Sonny and Carole Look at Massa's.

> Sonny has had a pretty severe stroke.... has been in a wheel chair for some

> time and has difficulty speaking... but we had a mini-version of this thread

> during dinner and loved it.

that is so great that Sony is alive. talk about a link to the past, the

knight on the horse for the restaurant on Westhiemer which is now the

Palm was classic kitsch, and the 4 flavored butters and the ICE COLD

salad....... heheheh ahh the memories of foodstuffs

now here are a couple or three that you have to be old time houston to

know :

Bud Bigelowes Steak House on Westheimer, the site is now mini storage,

next to the old Molinas which moved down the street to the old Boston

Sea Party bldg. Bigelows made homemade bread, i helped as a kid and it

was one of the real deals. To that end, if you want a steak in Houston,

Brenners on Katy Fwy is the last remaining vestige of the glory days,

and simply kicks azz on anything else in town.

2Ks. Burgers and ICe Cream parlor.

Others will have mentioned it, but it wasn't in this thread. In the

Sakowitz center on Post Oak. You don't remember Sakowitz ? You are

new.... you probably think the Bellaire Broiler Burger wasn't

Brittain's Broiler Burger in a previous life. Place hasn't changed much

at all, and i'm glad. It's like going to Burbank, the land that time

forgot; step in and it's 1962 again.

Across the Street. hamburgers and such, also ordered over the phone

like Gourmet. ( Gawd, Hamburgers by Gourmet was *good*) Across the

Street was on Hillcroft, next door to the original Jack in the Box, when

it was striclty a drive thru. Great burgers and onion rings in the

early 70s.

And last but not least, especially in light of the recent HPD follies at

Kmart and James Coney Island and Sonic;;;

Bill Williams Chicken in the Rough

a classic drive in with curb service on Main and Fannin, was destroyed

to expand the Med Ctr circa 1972, it had great food and was a mecca for

street racing in the old days. AFter Saturday night at Houston

International Speedway, folks would meet back there for some money races

on the empyt streets out by the Dome. Murworth was dead empty with

nothing around it.

Bill Willimas also had later on the Steakhouse in the Sky, advertised

all night long on KILT 610 from 12midnite to 6 am.

I can come up with more, but tell me some folks remember these gems, or

I really am gettin' to damn old

jm

---------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: "hermitt4d" <hermitt4d@burgerlicious.org>

Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 18:30:25 -0000

Local: Wed, Oct 22 2003 12:30 pm

Subject: Steak Fingers (Was: Re: Burgers on the south side of town?)

"Robert E. Lewis" <rlewis@brazosport.cc.tx.us> wrote:

>hermitt4d <hermitt4d@burgerlicious.net> wrote in message

>news:vpbus014h4gc4a@corp.supernews.com...

>> "Robert E. Lewis" <rlewis@brazosport.cc.tx.us> wrote:

>I remember my mother describing eating at a place owned by family-friend

>George Valian in the 1930s in Houston, and it being known, among other

>things for 'fried chicken, savage style,' meaning it was ok to eat it with

>your hands. Apparently this was a novelty - it's the way people ate fried

>chicken at home, but not in public.

I remember Valians, tho I never had fried chicken there. There was a legendary

restaurant on S. Main near where the Diagnostic Clinic now sits, Bill Williams,

which was a fried chicken place, as I recall (never went there; they advertised

heavily). Difficult to believe anyone ever ate fried chicken any way but

with the fingers.

I remember my parents coming home from a Dow banquet ca. the late 50s laughing

about the fact fried chicken was served and folks were trying to eat it with

knives and forks until someone, maybe A.P. Beutel himself, got up to the

mike and announced it was okay to eat it with your fingers! I never knew

there was any other way, at home or eating out.

>I'd guess at steakfingers being a logical offspring of other food served in

>a 'basket' - a burger and fries in a basket, chicken in a basket... makes

>sense to work out a way to serve the ever popular CFS in a basket. Maybe

>back to the '30s - but at chicken shacks, or drive-ins?

>Then again, I don't know how far back Roland Travis goes in the food

>business. Lake Jackson was only built in the '40s, as a Dow company town,

>but Roland was old enough, I'd guess (older than my parents, at any rate,,

>meaning probably his 80s or better) to have been serving food from the

>beginnings of the town, or possibly before, in Clute or Freeport... or

>somewhere else, for that matter.

As best memory serves, I first heard of Roland operating a 'steak house'

in Angleton, just north of the RR trax on 288. I think he operated such a

restaurant in several different locations in Angleton. We had a family friend

who insisted on going there regularly and dragged us along on a couple of

occasions. I was never very impressed with 'country' steak houses; it was

probably just supermarket T-bone; I remember lots of fat - not marbling -

and gristle. I remember when Rolands opened on Plantation Dr., which was

not until ca. 1960, I was surprised when I learned it was just a hamburger

joint as I associated Roland's name with the steak house.

I don't believe I ever went to the Bright Spot.

I remember the A-frame on the road to Surfside. I once tried to convince

some of my buddies we should lease the place (it was closed at the time)

and run a hamburger/hot dog joint - I thought we could get rich in one summer

with a hamburger/hot dog joint on the road to Surfside. My dad was not impressed

with my business idea and it went nowhere.

>And of course, this still leaves the obligatory diagonally-sliced Texas

>toast needing its origins delved into. <G>

>--

>Robert

I believe Mrs. Baird's was the only bakery to offer TT for a long time, but

there's nothing about it on their website. The idea of thicker sliced pieces

of bread undoubtedly antedates the invention of pre-sliced bread ca. late

1920s, early 1930s.

-----------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: vonroach <hadrainc@earthlink.net>

Date: Mon, 08 Nov 2004 16:01:08 GMT

Local: Mon, Nov 8 2004 10:01 am

Subject: Re: Restaurants of Yore

I regretted the destruction of the Shamrock more than all the others.

Also the strip where many restaurants flourished, especially College

Inn and Bill Williams.

I recall one night at Tidelands when a friend got into a shouting

match with performer Mort Sahl over his jokes directed at Germans

shortly after WW2. Among the silly things that were `serious' in

those days.

-------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: tvwebb@ev1.net (tomv)

Date: 2 Dec 2004 21:39:12 -0800

Local: Thurs, Dec 2 2004 11:39 pm

Subject: Re: restaurants of yore

A few places from my childhood-

Lum's on Bellaire near Hillcroft. "Hot Dogs Steamed In Beer"!!!. I

think the building is still there. It might even be Pico's Mexican

Restaurant.

Jamie's on S. Main near Braeswood. My first experience with "gourmet"

hamburgers. Along with your burger came a little copper bowl of

beans. I think the building's still there, I'm not sure. It housed a

mexican restaurant for years afterward.

Weldon Cafeteria on Main in what is now Midtown. It was huge! Two

stories as I recall, with multiple serving lines.

Also the original Cleburne Cafeteria also in Midtown. I remember as a

child being terrified by the decor-as I recall it was decorated like a

European hunting lodge or something like that.

Jetton Cafeteria in Greenway Plaza. (My parents liked cafeterias!)Lots

of different serving lines, very different for Houston at the time.

Bill Williams out on 90 in Richmond before you got to the bridge.

They had this neat arcade game when you walked in that had a lady

telling fortunes. Bill Williams had other restaurants in the area

that were closer. However, my parents loved places where they could

drive to on a weekend afternoon and enjoy a cocktail or two along the

way, and this location fit the bill perfectly.

Another favorite drive- Jimmy Walker's in Kemah. Now Landry's

----------------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: w5ezm@pdq.net (A.C. Spraggins)

Date: 3 Dec 2004 07:14:33 -0800

Local: Fri, Dec 3 2004 9:14 am

Subject: Re: restaurants of yore

Hi Julia and the HE gang:

We ate many times at that Romano's in T&C years ago. And, originally,

the skating rink was actually an ice rink before the post office took

it over.

As I recall, Bill Williams was on South Main, somewhere near Rice

Institute.

An old family friend, George Dentler, owned and ran Pier 21 at 7000

Fannin for decades. I loved the fried shrimp and yummy red sauce.

The neighborhood changed demographics drastically in the 70's-80's so

it closed. George became the GM at Boca del Rio on I-10 and Shepherd,

or was it Washington. Later, he opened another fish place called Pier

6 in Sugarland. We ate there once, but it was too far for us to go.

I heard that it closed and George then began running Magic Island.

I can't seem to find George anymore. He may have died, but once was

part of the Houston seafood restaurant pioneers. My mom and dad knew

his parents who owned the Dentler Maid Potato Chip company, now part

of Lay's. If anyone knows or has seen George, please let me know.

Thanks,

A.C. in Houston

------------------------------------------

Newsgroups: houston.eats

From: vonroach <hadrainc@earthlink.net>

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 2004 15:28:47 GMT

Local: Fri, Dec 3 2004 9:28 am

Subject: Re: restaurants of yore

Hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut on a section known as franchise

row,

>Jamie's on S. Main near Braeswood. My first experience with "gourmet"

>hamburgers. Along with your burger came a little copper bowl of

>beans. I think the building's still there, I'm not sure. It housed a

>mexican restaurant for years afterward.

Now just a vacant lot for sale next to multistory. The Mexican place

had little flags on table to raise if you needed additional service.

Private club and bar upstairs.

>Weldon Cafeteria on Main in what is now Midtown. It was huge! Two

>stories as I recall, with multiple serving lines.

There for decades. Owner died and daughter not interested in business.

Now a business school I think. Building is still a landmark. I was a

regular there for a few years.

>Also the original Cleburne Cafeteria also in Midtown. I remember as a

>child being terrified by the decor-as I recall it was decorated like a

>European hunting lodge or something like that.

I get it confused with the Alabama. Both relocated, quite a distance

from S. Main. I thought Cleburne had a spanish or mexican decor at one

time.

>Jetton Cafeteria in Greenway Plaza. (My parents liked cafeterias!)Lots

>of different serving lines, very different for Houston at the time.

>Bill Williams out on 90 in Richmond before you got to the bridge.

>They had this neat arcade game when you walked in that had a lady

>telling fortunes. Bill Williams had other restaurants in the area

>that were closer. However, my parents loved places where they could

>drive to on a weekend afternoon and enjoy a cocktail or two along the

>way, and this location fit the bill perfectly.

Original Bill Williams was on South Main, now absorbed into Medical

Center. It predated the Medical Center except for old Herman Hospital

now part of UT Medical School. He also had a restaurant on OST near

McGregor Park. The third was just before the bridge in Richmond. All

now gone, Bill retired and is now deceased. About all that's left is

Cap'n Benny who was a long time oyster opener and employee at S. Main

location.

>Another favorite drive- Jimmy Walker's in Kemah. Now Landry's

And slowly slipping below the water of Galveston Bay with land

subsidence in Kemah, Nice second floor with excellent view of boating

on Galveston Bay at one time.

Edited by roym
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$20,500 for a steer in 1964, equate that into today's money, Mattress Mac wouldn't even touch that ! I'll bet that was a really good hamburger. Bill obviously was raking it in. How do I know you ask, go look at the postcard of the Macgregor House location, look at the line of people coming out the door ! I would kill to own a place of business like that.

Edited by TJones
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Well I understand the fried chicken was pretty awesome...

$20,500 for a steer in 1964, equate that into today's money, Mattress Mac wouldn't even touch that ! I'll bet that was a really good hamburger. Bill obviously was raking it in. How do I know you ask, go look at the postcard of the Macgregor House location, look at the line of people coming out the door ! I would kill to own a place of business like that.
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Wow! Great post! Excellent research. :D

Bill Williams ("the Chicken King") was well known for his charitable work, especially for underprivileged children. He was sort of the Mattress Mac of his time and was supposed to have donated more than $3 million to charity and purchased a number of prize steers at the rodeo.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Bill Williams Restaurant

6515 South Main

Postcard posted by Subdude:

BillWilliams.jpg

Bill Williams MacGregor House

5100 OST

Postcard posted by Subdude:

williamsmacgregor.jpg

billwilliams023nh.jpg

From the 1954 Rice Yearbook (I think someone here at HAIF originally posted this):

billwilliamsad1954riceyearbook.jpg

Just looking at these photos of old restaurants brings a pleasant aroma to my nostrils. Oh, the smell of the chicken fried steak emanating from one of those places!

billwillams011ia.jpg

billwilliams032cm.jpg

billwilliamsashtray01a8mq.jpg

billwilliams06a2mj.jpg

billwilliams07a5fo.jpg

Some other Bill Williams threads at HAIF:

Defunct Houston Restaurants Post #43

Take A Walk Down Main Street Pt 2 Post #2

Photos I'm Looking For Post #105

Anyone Remember Drive In With Indians On Top Post #2

Some stories from the Usenet group Houston.Eats (all original authors credited):

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  • 1 year later...

I think this came up before but I can't find it. Anyway, does anyone know if the Bill Williams restaurant building in Richmond is still standing? As is happens, I was in Richmond this morning and I went to look around for it, but I wasn't sure of the location.

Thanks!

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I think it's where the veterinary hospital is now, 502 Main. I'm not sure, but I believe they are using at least some of the original builidings. There was a motel there too, behind the restaurant. After Bill Williams closed, the building was a country bar called the Wounded Armadillo. Yes, this has been discussed before on this forum.

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Subdude, I'm going back some 30 or 40 years, and possibly more, but if I recall, it would have been on the south side of old 90 between Pitts and FM359. I seem to recall it was at or just before a curve in the road right before you crossed the (very scary and dangerous) Brazos River bridge at Richmond. Looking at an old Key Map, the above location seems right.

My granddad knew Williams pretty well, and we went to that location many times, usually on the way down to Granddaddy

Edited by Heights2Bastrop
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If I ever win the lottery I'm going to open up a museum in Houston that's just going to be filled with the bits of Houston history collected by HAIFers. You people are great. Houston needs its own history museum.

We have, er had (?), one: Museum of Houston.

It hadn't been added to since it's inception last time I looked and it's getting an error right now. Don't know if it's permanently down or what...

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  • 1 month later...
I have one of the fiberglass Indians from atop Bill Williams Restaurant (the skillet holder). I would like to refurbish him if anyone has a photo or info on how he looked. The restaurant was supposedly on South Main near the present day Medical Center, and I would like to keep him as authentic as possible since he is on public display. Thank You.

My contact info

Does anyone have a picture of the Indian?

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...
When and why did Bill Williams shut down? I see a bunch of threads about his restaurant and the infamous Indians, but I haven't seen discussion about the shutting down of this restaurant.

Tragic. I had been to Bill Williams at Main St as a kid ca 1964 from out of town with my parents and their Houstonian friend. Started college across the street, fall 1973. Bill Williams closed down about the end of October, 1973 when mysteriously contaminated (certified) raw oysters devastated many of the Houston scene's restaurants, Oct-Nov 1973 for weeks on end with at least 268 Hep-A victims. Big liability suits were just coming into vogue and forced many famed restaurants into bankruptcy or reorganizations...

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1251833

http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/103/2/181

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  • 12 years later...
  • The title was changed to Bill Williams Chicken House Locations

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