Tuesday, July 11, 2017

[Suburbia Lost] Texas Roadhouse - Terre Haute, IN

The citizens of Terre Haute, Indiana apparently really love Texas Roadhouse and got an upgrade, but what exactly do you do with such a purpose built building once it's been replaced?

I've heard, but haven't seen it confirmed anywhere, that the Texas Roadhouse in Terre Haute, Indiana is the most popular location in the nation for the restaurant chain that's actually headquartered in the Bluegrass State as opposed to the Lone Star State. You won't find long wait times at the building in these photographs though, this building was apparently too small, too crowded, and too outdated. In 2016, a brand new location opened up just 0.2 miles down the road featuring a larger kitchen and more parking spaces. 

An article by the local Tribune Star covering the relocation had some online comments that spoke to the chain's popularity: "Woo Hoo and Yee Haw!!," wrote the first commenter. "Hopefully this made it big enough for Terre Haute !!!!! Tired of never being able to get in !!!!!," wrote another. "Hope there are more parking spaces! Love TRH," chimed someone else. While most comments celebrated the move, one asked a very poignant question:
"What's going to happen to there old building?"
- Direct quote from online comment section, typo of "their" is not mine. 

I like that question, because it reminds me of a great satire post by The Onion, one often referenced in the Suburbia Lost series and one that makes a valid observation. Entitled "You Can Tell Area Bank Used To Be A Pizza Hut," the lone photo shows a financial institution with a roof incredibly similar to those once found on Pizza Hut restaurants, like the many already seen in this photo series. Judging from the layout of the building, the bank was probably never actually a Pizza Hut, but the architectural detail immediately calls to mind visions of stuffed crust and a business model that wained in the early 2000's.

I like The Onion piece because it brings up something that makes these Suburbia Lost photographs so different from the other abandoned places I've documented: these locations are often purpose built. It's a pretty smart marketing technique employed by chain restaurants all over the world: give all your locations a familiar look, structure, and feel so that they're easily identifiable. At some point though, a problem emerges when the business shuts down, or in Terre Haute's case, relocates. What do you do with a building that clearly used to be something else and maintains that iconic look? There's a great blog that explores this phenomenon, once again centered around Pizza Hut. "Used to Be a Pizza Hut" shows businesses all around the world that have opened up in the carcasses of what was once America's most beloved pizza chain. Entrepreneurs get creative and have turned these things into everything ranging from local restaurants to strip clubs to pharmacies and churches.

So to get back to the original question: "What's going to happen to there their old building?" Well as of May, 2017 when I passed through Southern Indiana, nothing has happened yet. So what exactly do you do with a building that clearly used to be a Texas Roadhouse, even if you did a halfhearted job of covering up the old logo?

It's a question I'd like you to answer in the comment section below and I mean that seriously. What exactly do you do with a purpose built restaurant that while so popular with the locals it needed a new location, but is still a rather large and specific type of building. Do you open up something local? Renovate into a retail store? Demolish it and start anew? Run your own independent family friendly, western themed steakhouse ala McDowells in "Coming to America?"

One thing you know for sure is that this won't ever be a Texas Roadhouse again, but you can tell this area building used to be one.

So, what are your ideas?

Ideas that have come from social media:

"Would make a cool brewery."
- @djbarnett

"I should think that O'Charley's would be interested in such a fine looking, non square building."
- @MikeBowman3

"Honestly, the only question we should be asking is WWJD."
- @LegendOftheHall

"I'd make it a cowboy boot and 10 gallon hat emporium. Maybe sell pop-guns too."
- @wildcat_walker

"A pager store, clearly."
- @CincinnatiPhil

"Perhaps a Longhorn Steakhouse? It's too bad a place like this is lost to history."
- Phil A.

"I say turn it into a country bar with mechanical bull riding!"
- Katie

"Turn it into Rex's Toadhouse."
- Randy

"Americana kitschy antique mall."
- @the_book_of_silas

"Depending on Terre Haute's needs, I'd maybe turn it into a small office building or emergency doctor's office kinda like they did with the Fuddruckers on Fields Artel (Mason, OH)."
- @Cincinnasty

"Turn it into one hell of a house or nice sized apartments depending on size and condition of it."
- @gmnahm

"They turned ours into a sports bar."
- @yepjusthep

"Doomsday Bunker. Also, peanut shell storage."
 - @leveibethune

"Turn it into the @hollonarts media studio!"
- @hollonarts

Suburbia Lost takes a look at the ruins left behind in American suburbs locally and found on travels throughout the country. 

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