Look Back @ It: Thayer Street edition

As we transition from #fallfoliage to the cruel reality of a real New England winter, it’s easy to forget that College Hill sheds more than just its leaves every season. Shops and restaurants are constantly opening their doors, followed by a review by yours truly, and continue to exist for a period that ranges anywhere from 1 year to a century. The initial shock that inevitably hits Brunonia when a store is closed, followed by the sweet anticipation of a new franchise, is all part of the emotional rollercoaster that students experience during their time at Brown. Maybe I’m drawing too much from my own personal meltdown when Shades Plus went “out of business,” which for me really reaffirmed that nothing lasts forever.

Thayer Street in particular has witnessed a hefty amount of storefront makeovers, recently bringing a new Sushi Cafe (review to come!) into the old location of the beloved Spats, and spontaneously kicking out City Sports in an eight-day period of “EVERYDAY WE SELL IS BASICALLY FREE.”

After all of its ups and downs, Thayer deserves a post dedicated to its transformation through the years. Thayer Street, you may not realize it because you’re just asphalt, but we’ve known you since you were a baby.

Let’s look back at @ it

249 Thayer

Store 24 to Tedeschi to ???

The only online review of Store 24 is scathing, a direct quote being “You get a dirty feeling just walking into this place.” Tedeschi Food Shops eventually took its place and quickly gained a cult following with its bizarre yet price-friendly selection of goods. Tears were shed when it closed, and its disappearance even inspired a “ghost of Tedeschi” Halloween costume in Fall 2012. Now the storefront next to Chipotle is completely vacant.

257 Thayer

Esta’s to Toledo: Pizza in a Cone to 257 Thayer

The funky atmosphere at Esta’s included a gift shop, video rental business, and bike shop … but unfortunately the demise of video renting in general ended its reign in 2004.

However, Esta’s was soon replaced with Toledo: Pizza in a Cone. Reviews of this place ranged from “Hidden gem!” to “I had the misfortune of downing one of these pizza in a cone’s in January 2011.” Now the area is dominated by the 257 Thayer apartment complex … an arguable downgrade from pizza cones.

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271 Thayer

IHOP to Laguna to The Gap to City Sports to ???

The IHOP chain back in the 70’s was a 24 hour business, so it’s entirely possible that a couple generations ago I would have alternated my all-nighters between there and Loui’s. Apparently they made custom orders for regulars despite being a chain. Next came Laguna, a California style restaurant and bar, followed by The Gap, City Sports, and now, another empty storefront.

273 Thayer

Arthur Palmer to Spike’s Junkyard Dogs to Baja’s

Arthur Palmer was a clothing store in the 70’s that was rumored to house the world’s biggest pair of Levi’s — I’m not sure if that refers to length or overall size. In any case, Palmer shut down and relinquished its property to Spike’s Junkyard Dogs, a joint that offered “cheap and ridiculously good” hot dogs. The space was apparently covered wall to wall with Polaroid’s of the ambitious patrons who completed their 6 hot dog challenge.

Despite its alluring junkyard vibe, Spike’s folded its Thayer branch in 2008. Not long after, we were given the gift of Baja’s Tex-Mex, which has bestowed us with their incomparable burritos and chicken fingers since then.

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275 + 277 Thayer

Dunkin’ Donuts and Details to Shark Sushi Bar and Grill

Apparently the Dunkin’ Donuts that used to occupy the space next to the Army/Navy Surplus Store was referred to the “temple of lost donuts”, occasionally serving rare flavors like Chocolate Kreme, Vanilla Kreme, and Butternut. Details was an accessory store next door that sold merchandise equivalent to Claire’s products but with a wider selection of socks. Together, the two stores became Shark Bar and Grill, a franchise that does not serve donut-filled socks.

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291 Thayer

Thayer Street Market, a deli and butcher to CVS

CVS replaced the quaint Thayer Street Market in 1985, where college students used to buy fresh groceries and visit the deli and butcher.

More on Thayer’s glorious upbringing … 

A once vibrant music scene, Thayer Street was home to several record stores like student-run Mother Records, Tom’s Tracks, Goldy’s Records, Fast Forward Records, and In Your Ear Records. All small, all cheap, and on a good day, you could scavenge a rare Grateful Dead album with some persistence.

There used to be a McDonald’s on Angell Street near Thayer. Let the weirdness sink in for a second.

College Hill Books, a better version of the Brown Bookstore that sold affordable books to college students, was frequented by many and closed down to eventually reemerge as Spectrum India. The same owner of CHB owns the Avon Cinema.

Andreas used to be called The Hungry Sheik, and was promised as a yummy alternative to the Ratty and the old IHOP.

Geoff’s Superlative Sandwiches, home of the famous “Twofer Tuesdays” and hilariously blazed workers, used to have a spot at 233 Thayer.

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6 Comments

  1. Hayward Vereen Jr.

    What? No mention of Taco Maker??? It was next to the Army Navy store (or a few buildings away) mid 80s.

    Always a long line on weekend nights!

    Maybe you guys are too young??

  2. Chris - 115

    I believe that the gimmick at Geoff’s for a while was that the people working behind the counter were mean to customers (think Seinfeld Soup Nazi, except they wouldn’t go so far as to not make your food), but that ended when people – get this – didn’t like it when the people making them food were mean.

    F’real though, I’d recommend to those of you who are still there to check out the Geoff’s on Benefit. It’s not that far a walk on a nice day. The sandwiches are fantastic and the delicious deli pickles are free.

  3. benjamin levitt

    I miss Taco Maker – their steamed cheese fries were awesome.

  4. John

    Spectrum- India has been on the st. since 1967. Same owner, great store!

  5. Russ

    Peebodys? Awesome coffee spot.

  6. rob

    not to mention, no more skateboard shops on Thayer. RIP Watershed, LunaSea, Skateaway, Savage Bros.

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