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Lazy Restaurant Conversions
August 24, 2006 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Not Fooling Anybody. You know that new Chinese Restaurant that still looks like the Pizza Hut that shut down last year? How about that sandwich shop that still has a Taco Bell-shaped sign in front of it? Ever feel like a family-sized bucket of back repair? Find all of these, plus a guide to identifying them in your own home town.
posted by CrunchyFrog (44 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
pretty sure this is a double...
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson at 9:24 PM on August 24, 2006


yup.
still a funny site though.
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson at 9:25 PM on August 24, 2006


They're the hermit crabs of retail.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:31 PM on August 24, 2006


ya, I remember this one from a few years ago.
that "Kembass" (used to be Embassy) cleaners is right down the street from me.
posted by chococat at 9:38 PM on August 24, 2006


Somewhere in San Jose is a taqueria which previously housed a Foster's Freeze. Instead of his chef's hat and ice-cream cone body, Little Foster is now festooned with a sombrero and a serape and a thin pencil mustache.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:54 PM on August 24, 2006


Ha! Pizza Hut went out of the restaurant business around these parts a few years ago, instead concentrating on pick-up and delivery only, necessitating a move into smaller premises. The result has been dozens of Pizza Hut shaped buildings with new occupants. It's fantastic.
posted by Jimbob at 9:56 PM on August 24, 2006


Didn't catch this the first time around. Glad I did. There is an old taco bell turned car dealership by me. Like many of the examples on the site, they didn't really bother to change much; just slapped a new sign on it.

Any thoughts on what is going on with the dunkin' donuts though? Same things happening here. Same owners, but they're no longer Dunkin Donuts, they're now a bunch of small businesses with some other donut name. Did DD change their franchise policy or something? Its all happened in I'd say the last 5 years.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:34 PM on August 24, 2006


I highly recommend Teriyaki Bell in Seattle near King St. Station.
posted by newton at 10:51 PM on August 24, 2006


I thought this one was pretty good. EXACO - brilliant!
posted by junesix at 11:13 PM on August 24, 2006


After 2-and-a-half years, I'm wondering why they still haven't found any of the Formerly Foster's Donuts.
posted by wendell at 12:15 AM on August 25, 2006


In Milwaukee - I think it's on Good Hope, but I'm not sure - I believe someone opened a funeral home in a former pizzeria. Or maybe it's the other way around.

Anyways, while looking for a picture of that place, I found this: a funeral home which is now a hot dog joint (also in Milwaukee).

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, we were also named the drunkest city in America today.
posted by anjamu at 12:23 AM on August 25, 2006


OMG!!! Small businesses are using real estate!!! News at 11!!
posted by sourwookie at 1:24 AM on August 25, 2006


So who exactly is trying to fool anyone here? Last time I looked the shape of the building had nothing to do with the quality of the product in question.
posted by telstar at 2:06 AM on August 25, 2006


a funeral home which is now a hot dog joint (also in Milwaukee).

Okay, there's no fucking way I'm going to eat a hot dog from that place.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 2:29 AM on August 25, 2006


I believe someone opened a funeral home in a former pizzeria.

In my hometown, the funeral service for my grandmother was held in the same room where I'd eaten a Taco Platter a few years before. They had turned a mexican restaraunt into a funeral home.

And yes, they parked the hearse(s) round by where the drive-thru window used to be...
posted by mrbill at 2:55 AM on August 25, 2006


[insert clever name here], are you here in Baltimore, by any chance? Because we're either thinking of exactly the same place, or there's more than one Taco-Bell-to-car-dealership in this great nation.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:18 AM on August 25, 2006


I once saw a used car dealership running out of an old McDonalds restaurant in Barbados. The story was that they had boycotted McD's and forced it to close in under 6 months, and there are still no McDonalds restaurants in Barbados.
posted by Acey at 3:32 AM on August 25, 2006


The McDonalds we use to goto lunch while in highschool moved to another street. And the building was converted into a beauty salon school.
posted by Dreamghost at 4:14 AM on August 25, 2006


I saw a defunct McDonalds which the company had painted in pastel colors to try to hide the fact that it was a defunct McDonalds. Just the trim and stuff, not the whole building. And ALL golden arches and signage was long gone. They are very protective of that 70s era McDonalds design.
posted by punkfloyd at 4:28 AM on August 25, 2006


In a related story...

Here in Atlanta, in a sad, dilapidated shopping mall, a local furniture store, "Rhodes" went out of business. The store that replaced it? A furniture store named "Shoder." Yep. The same letters, rearranged (barely).
posted by jpburns at 4:40 AM on August 25, 2006


One of my favorite Atlanta conversions is Cottage, a (delicious and inexpensive) mid-range Ethiopian restaurant in a former Burger King. They turned the serving counter into a bar (packed full of men watching imported music videos), kept the ornate frosted glass "Burger King" logos on the swinging doors to the kitchen, and thriftily provided Burger King - branded hand towels in the bathroom. I think they still even open up the drive-thru during lunchtime, although you wait for a pretty long time in your car.
posted by xthlc at 5:28 AM on August 25, 2006


In Garland, TX, there is a funeral home that was once a Red Lobster. For almost 2 years, they didn't even bother to change the way the building looked.

Given the way seafood restaurants smell, I can imagine what the place was like inside.
posted by bradth27 at 6:01 AM on August 25, 2006


They need to add Used to be Rax, as well. Lots of those up here.

I've eaten at that Pineda Tacos. Once. Made the mistake of getting a torta that turned out to have everything on it. I asked the bored high school girl behind the register what it was, she said "Ees got meat...and stuff." So, why not?

It had pressed ham, half an inch thick fried on the grill. And a slab of chicken fried steak. And sliced hot dogs. And bacon. And a thick slice of manchego cheese. Beans. Avocadoes. Peppers. Buttered, grilled bread. Mayo. And some tomato, a reminder that someone, somewhere, was eating something that didn't require a followup at a cardiac clinic. There may have been more things lurking, I could only work my way through a quarter of it.

It's worth seeing, sort of like the two-headed sheep at the fair, but like the sheep, you wouldn't want to eat it.
posted by gimonca at 6:03 AM on August 25, 2006


The signs are funny and sometimes ballsy. But the buildings? According to that logic, Pizza Huts and other typically-shaped buildings could never be sold to anybody. Or would the new owner be expected to completely rebuild it?

It would be funny, though, if Pizza Hut would sell its buildings and then successfully sue the new owners for copyright infringement or something.
posted by uncle harold at 6:11 AM on August 25, 2006


Heh... I live literally around the corner from EXACO. The site's correct, it's not selling gas at the moment... it seems as though some renovation is happening, but slowly.
posted by the_bone at 6:51 AM on August 25, 2006


There's a place in Annandale, VA, that we call Pizza Hut Korean Barbecue. My favorite Indian restuarant is housed in what used to be some sort of steak house, and until recently still had wagon-wheel light fixtures; the outside still has a fake-adobe look. My favorite retro-fit, though, was Oxford Books in Atlanta, which took over a car dealership.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:56 AM on August 25, 2006


Sadly the "International House of Blockbuster" just off of North Avenue in Chicago is now closed. Made me happy every time I saw it...
posted by true at 7:03 AM on August 25, 2006


Not fooling anybody ....

... that sandwich shop that still has a Taco Bell-shaped sign ...


Especially since that sandwich shop purports to sell "Philly Cheesesteaks" in Phoenix, AZ.

They're really not fooling anybody.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2006


Sadly, the Hertz Rent-A-Car in the former Wendy's in my town has closed. The Enterprise in the former Burger King is still open.

A former Hardee's in my town became a video store and is now a Dunkin Donuts.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:24 AM on August 25, 2006


Buildings get reused. News at 11.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:25 AM on August 25, 2006


McDonald's actually is pretty careful about their buildings. When they close oned, a crew comes around and makes some subtle alterations to the buildings rooflines and removes any corporate "flair".
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:46 AM on August 25, 2006


My favorite is a bank in Santa Clara, CA that still looks like the Sizzler's it once was. Who the hell wants to keep their money in a Sizzler's?
posted by wolftrouble at 8:37 AM on August 25, 2006


We used to have an Indian restaurant in an old IHOP building -- the kind with the enormous peaked blue roof.

For the first year or so, the place smelled like a weird mixture of curry and maple syrup.

It closed recently. Now it's a Thai restaurant.
posted by ook at 9:41 AM on August 25, 2006


Oh, there was a Dr. Katz gag about this sort of thing (Ray Romano? I hope not, maybe Dom Irrera?), with a former IHOP being made into a bank. Actually it may have been a parodically distinct pancake house.
posted by zusty at 11:04 AM on August 25, 2006


There's a Pineda Tacos over in West St. Paul that's in a former Embers--one of the old ones, not the fake-retro variety. Looks cool from the outside, but I've never actually eaten there (yet.)

There's an ex-Hardees that got turned into a bank in Hastings, Minnesota. Sadly it still largely looks like an all-brick Hardees (they refaced the building with lighter brick but did nothing else.) There are a lot of ex-Hardees in Minnesota, but most of them have been converted into vacant buildings.

Cottage Grove had a old Taco Johns that was converted into a driving school. The building was about the size of a car itself.
posted by Electric Elf at 12:15 PM on August 25, 2006


Over in Sterling VA there was a Hookah bar called Falafel (or something similar) that opened in an old Milano's Pizza, which wouldn't have been out of the ordinary... except they never bothered to take the Milano's signs down... or change the menus (although I think they put a sticker over them or something), in fact, the only time you knew what the place was called when you got the receipt.

But holy crap, Pizza and Subs AND Hookahs? it was the greatest place ever, unfortunately I only got to go twice before it closed down again (i think)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:23 PM on August 25, 2006


Not fooling anybody ....

... that sandwich shop that still has a Taco Bell-shaped sign ...


That sandwich shop is down the street from my old high school. Before the Philly place moved in, it was a burger shop, something like Galaxy Burger, and the same sign was painted black with stars and galaxies on it.

There's a lot of useless history in that sign.
posted by darksasami at 1:31 PM on August 25, 2006


I forgot, until we drove past it today, about the Denny's in Milwaukee that was converted into a plastic surgery clinic. So there's that, too.
posted by anjamu at 2:05 PM on August 25, 2006


"I highly recommend Teriyaki Bell in Seattle near King St. Station."

I don't think that one was ever an actual Taco Bell. It was a Mexican restaurant, yes, but not Taco Bell. My earliest memory of it was sometime in the late 70s and I'm pretty sure it was just an independent Mexican place then.

Having said that, the ancestry of that building is pretty obvious. :)
posted by litlnemo at 2:40 PM on August 25, 2006


the Denny's in Milwaukee that was converted into a plastic surgery clinic

From Grand Slam breakfast to lipo, and you don't even have to leave your booth!
posted by gimonca at 6:41 PM on August 25, 2006


Along the same lines (ish, anyways) in Kerrville TX there was a funeral home that closed and was reopened as a Sportys Bar & Grill. 'I'll take a cheeseburger but ketchup rather than embalming fluid please."
posted by CwgrlUp at 7:02 PM on August 25, 2006


Faint of Butt, it seems there must be more than one taco-bell-car-dealership. I'm in Milwaukee. The thought of there being a second one had me laughing out loud.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:40 AM on August 26, 2006


My favorite conversion was a former Oakland, CA Pioneer Chicken restaurant that had been converted into yet another chicken fast food place called Fineer Chicken.
posted by dantsea at 8:51 PM on August 26, 2006


Here in Atlanta, in a sad, dilapidated shopping mall, a local furniture store, "Rhodes" went out of business. The store that replaced it? A furniture store named "Shoder." Yep. The same letters, rearranged (barely).
Understand, please, that I will be chortling to myself over this for probably years to come. My boyfriend and I had a nightmare experience with Rhodes Furniture, and we ... weren't surprised to hear that they were closing. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same staff, same stock, all that ...

They really aren't fooling anyone. Thanks for the laugh.
posted by anjamu at 11:31 PM on August 26, 2006


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