Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Railhead

Postcard from the early days. (Source unknown).


The first reference to 6400 Richmond appears in 1974 as the Railhead, a steakhouse themed to the golden era of American railroads. From what I've heard it had two portions of the restaurants, one focusing on steakhouse dining (serving a menu of prime rib and seafood) and the other toward live shows, which got increasingly more nightclubby as time went on. A January 1983 show with Dan Berry of Jan & Dean invited women to come in a bikini (and get their first drink free). Later that year it closed and the building received a large expansion to become Fizz, a popular nightclub, opening in spring 1986.

Fizz closed in October 1986 for a renovation, with a new theme and name, Hippo, opening in December. Hippo featured "a pseudo-artsy decor" where "abstract acrylics, animal murals and bad Picasso-esque paintings line the walls". (Yes, and for those keeping track, for a brief time you had "Hippo" down the street from "Crocodile"). By June 1988, however, the location had transitioned into a new concept, simply called "6400 Richmond" with alternative music (the new slogan - "Top 40 - We Ain't Playing It!"). This was done slowly, with some nights as Hippo and some as 6400 Richmond with black plastic covering the walls. You can see some of what was the nightclub in this video. It mentions a private club-within-a-nightclub with a quieter, more discreet atmosphere (this was likely the old Railhead portion) and you can see guests dance on the floor (note the very drunk man at five minutes) to Dead Or Alive's "My Heart Goes Bang" (Live in Japan).

"6400 Club" as it was known by late 1988, was destroyed in a fire in January 1989 and appears to not have reopened. The most extensive damage was at the former Railhead building, which was essentially rebuilt as a covered patio. The rest of the building was repaired/rebuilt and reopened as Back Alley in August 1991. Just over a year later, the club was closed and reopened around December 1992 as Texas Live, a new country western club, but it closed after four months, citing an oversaturated C&W nightclub scene. In mid-1993 it reopened as Rockefeller's West, a spin-off of Rockefeller's in the Rice Military area and designed to be primarily a performance hall rather than a dance club. Operations changed hands and eventually the "original" Rockefeller's managed to get exclusivity rights to the name back and Rockefeller's West was changed to Bayou City Theater (aka Bayou City Theatre) in December 1993.

In July 1994, Peter's Wildlife opened, turning it back into a nightclub. In November, the club faced some bad publicity with "Slash 'N Dash", to feature "was to feature a straw poll on [O.J.] Simpson's guilt or innocence; free valet parking for customers driving white Ford Broncos; free Simpson masks and a gift certificate for a hunting knife as a grand prize". Not only was the grand prize a knife but the winner was to "win an O.J. Simpson 'Slash N' Dash' night on the town to include dinner at McDonald's, a black stocking cap, a gift certificate for a hunting knife, a pair of sunglasses and a limousine ride to the airport". After there was an outcry from local womens' shelters about this, the club announced that the party would instead be "An Evening of Extremely Poor Taste" and "did not mention prizes". At some point around this time, there was a club-within-a-club, Florida Keys. Peter's Wildlife closed in mid-1997 shortly after a lawsuit was filed by a woman claiming she "almost choked to death" in a hot dog eating contest Peter's Wildlife had hosted in 1995. T-Town 2000, a Latino-themed nightclub opened in September 1998, not long after 6400 Sports Cafe made a brief appearance in the building. T-Town 2000 was successful enough to last seven years (something that every club, dating back to Fizz, couldn't manage) before closing/changing to Planeta Bar-Rio around 2005 (probably because "2000" anything became quickly dated after the year 2000). Around 2010 it was reformatted once more to Stereo Live, a live performance venue, which has remained since.

The billboard-esque sign for the club dates back to the days of the Railhead.

This post is researched through Houston Chronicle and Houston Post archives and expanded from what originally appeared on Carbon-izer.com at this page.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Studio 6 Northwest Freeway

Street View, 2014
This is an expanded version of what appears on Carbon-izer.

This (14255 Northwest Freeway) opened as Homestead Village in February 1994, a chain of extended-stay efficiency apartment hotels (not to be confused with Homestead Village Apartments at 9700 Homestead). In January 2001, it and others were sold to Accor, which converted them to Studio 6, Motel 6's new extended-stay hotel brand (it's worth noting the Studio 6 logo was much more colorful and interesting than it was prior to the early 2010s; you can see the hotel sign as it looked in 2005 from AARoads here). It changed signage in 2014. While "Studio 6 Houston, TX - Northwest Hwy 290" had a long run, it closed in 2022 and was converted into apartments along with two other Studio 6 properties and a Wyndham hotel.

The interesting thing to note is that at one time in the 2010s Studio 6 did some renovations, updating fixtures like cabinets and the sinks, and these were carried over to the apartment complex.

As an apartment complex, it appears that the main Northwest Freeway access is exit-only and that the main entrance is off of Rothway Street.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Barbecue Inn


116 West Crosstimbers Drive

Barbecue Inn's current building, according to both HCAD and newspaper records, was built in 1965. As of 1961, the 116 West Crosstimbers address was a private residence, with a fire reported in 1961 that damaged the roof.


It appears the "established 1946" was when current ownership took over--much like how what is now Domino's marks its establishment when it was new management that took over Ypsilanti, Michigan's "Domi-Nick's Pizza", but the original address of Barbecue Inn isn't clear, and establishments with that name in Houston have been around since the 1930s. Pictures from author, 3/2019.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Jack in the Box, The Heights

2001 North Shepherd Drive

Built in 1977 but replacing an older restaurant dating back to at least the mid-1960s, this Jack in the Box closed September 2018. The restaurant was poorly run, with employees actually refusing to serve hamburgers after around 7 pm citing the grill being shut off (likely a reason for its demise, as Jack in the Box stores usually thrive on night traffic). It reopened as Velvet Taco in January 2021 with a exterior major re-do (however, the "box" was kept). [Photo by author, March 2019]