No, this H-E-B was not in Austin

Reader Steven Swinnea spotted some contradictions in a H-E-B promotional piece, material taken from the grocery chain’s website, that ran in the American-Statesman earlier this summer. The image in the piece shows a streamlined supermarket, but the clues in the caption and in the markings on the photographic print do not match.

The information on the photographic print and the caption don’t match. Contributed by H-E-B

“The writing purports it to be ‘Austin #1, 18th & Austin,” Swinnea writes. “Where is 18th and Austin? Where would a supermarket fit on 18th — unless it was in the pre-Interstate-35 days?”

He also wonders how the pictured market could be “Austin No. 1,” since the accompanying text says that the earliest H-E-Bs here were elsewhere in town, including at least one on East Sixth Street.

In fact, H-E-B’s homepage reports that the company, founded in Kerrville, then based in Corpus Christi before it settled in San Antonio, purchased three Austin markets in 1938. Based on the car models in this image, the photo, also incorrectly identified on the H-E-B site, was taken in the late 1950s.

Also, several Texas cities do come with Austin streets, some named after the colonist, others after the road toward the state capital.

More Mysteries: Time travel to 1973 on the Drag.

We posted the mystery on three Facebook pages. Two readers solved the puzzle almost immediately, using different methods.

Sam Sargent located the surviving building at 18th and Austin in Waco. How did he find out?

“Googling ‘HEB Food Stores’ and ‘Austin’ to see what came up,” Sargent writes. “I just knew we didn’t have a building like that … in Austin.”

On another page, Donald Spradlin picked the same location.

“I worked through a Google Image Search and TinEye (a reverse image search tool) to get to old images of a close-up of the tower,” he writes, “and went backwards from there.”

Reader Gentry McLean found a KXXV.com article that says the Waco building opened in 1949. It’s now a Sedberry Furniture store.

Next week, we follow the subsequent online discussion about where those first three H-E-Bs, reportedly purchased from the Piggly Wiggly chain, were located in Austin.

1940-2018: Joe Lung of longtime Austin eatery family is dead at 77

Joe Lung, whose family operated popular Austin eateries for three generations, died of complications from a stroke at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House on Wednesday evening. He was 77.

Joe Lung’s family came to Austin in the 1880s. They owned a series of diners, restaurants and sandwich shops. Late in life, Lung welcomed visitors from around the world at the State Capitol gift shop. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

Austin has more to say about Stallion Drive Inn

Our story about the Stallion Drive Inn, a comfort food spot on North Lamar Boulevard, stirred strong memories among our readers.

The Stallion Drive Inn on North Lamar Boulevard. Contributed

Steve Hamlett remembers cheap, good food and lots of it. He describes a sign on the side of the building that read: “Flash Your Lights.”

“Were diners supposed to flash their car lights to let the people inside know that more customers were arriving?” Hamlett writes. “Seemed very strange.  I don’t think I ever actually did it or saw anyone else do it.”

Might have been a relic of the Stallion’s curb service days. Hamlett also remembers a Stallion jingle set to the tune of the “Bonanza” theme.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Don Valk usually stopped by the Stallion on the way to the Skyline Club.

“They had a special: For 35 cents got you a couple of chicken wings, small salad and a couple of french fries,” Volk writes. “To get in the Skyline was around 50 cents and there was 10 cent beer from 8 to 9:30 plus plenty of fine looking ladies to dance with.”

Mike Steele dropped into the Stallion often.

“There was a cook there named Willis Earls who had been a professional boxer,” Steele writes. “He had an intimidating presence but was super nice. Biggest hands I’ve ever seen. You could pass a quarter through one of his rings. Not only did he cook, he kept the peace there.”

The color of the cream gravy concerned several readers.

“I remember the gravy being a little green, not orange,” writes Jake Lorfing. “But I ate lots of it!”

“The gravy was yellow green and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen gravy that color again,” writes Mark Peppard. “Just remember how good it was.”

“The gravy wasn’t orange,” Harry Thompson writes. “It was the light from the beer signs.”

As for exactly when the Stallion closed, we received three crucial messages.

Jeanette Breelove recalls that her husband, Mack Breedlove, was the commercial broker who talked the owners, Bill Joseph‘s family, into selling the tract to Macdonalds in the early ’80s But she did have a specific date.

Bill Joseph, son of the owner, said his father operated the Stallion from 1949 until his death in December 18, 1981. His mother kept place open for another year, then it was managed by an uncle, E.C. Mowdy.

Retired and living in Fredericksburg, Joseph, part of the extended Lebanese-Texan family, recalls the spot as a place where World War II veterans gathered to tell stories they wouldn’t talk about elsewhere. (He kept notes!)

Stewart Smiley says the Stallion closed unexpectedly the day before Thanksgiving 1984. “No notice was given ahead of time,” Smiley told us. “It just closed and that was it.”

Mixed memories of the Stallion Drive Inn eatery on North Lamar

Reader Gary Vliet asks of our Answered Answered project: “In the 1970s there was a great restaurant on North Lamar, the Stallion. Could you give a little history and when and why it closed?”

Night view of Stallion Drive Inn Restaurant and parking lot as photographed by Neal Douglass in 1950. Contributed by Austin History Center ND-50-235-01

The Stallion Drive Inn Restaurant was located at 5534 Dallas Highway (now North Lamar Boulevard).

We know that the Stallion, which served comfort food such as chicken fried steak, veal cutlets, hamburgers, malts and liver and onions, went back at least as far as 1950. That’s because of a fine Neal Douglass photo taken Oct. 4, 1950. It was part of a strip of highway businesses — the Chief Drive-In Theater, which opened in 1947, road houses, diners, etc. — that served the new suburbs or Allandale, Crestview and Brentwood, etc.

Austin Answered: You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

“It was still open in the mid-1980s (’83-’85),” says beloved broadcaster Fred Cantu, “because I used to join in as Sammy Allred did live radio spots for the Stallion when we did mornings at KTXZ’s ‘All Star Rock & Roll.’”

Don’t yet know exactly when and why it closed. Hold that thought for another column.

Two Facebook pages, “Old Austin Dives, Greasy Spoons, Etc.” and “Dazed and Confused/Keeping Our Austin Memories Alive w/Its Rich History,” regularly feature the Stallion. While some contributors relish memories of certain dishes as well as employees and other guests, others walked away from the Drive Inn perplexed by the food, which included cream gravy poured over salad.

“I never figured out how they got the gravy to be that orange color,” posts Bubba Stark. “Great cheap food, though.”

The atmosphere sounds pure Austin

“I loved the Stallion!” posts Mark Lind. “The most eclectic mix of clientele of any restaurant in old Austin: hippies, bikers, ‘kickers,’ families, etc. Bar downstairs, restaurant upstairs. And a great neon sign.”

“It was good, cheap eating,” posts Frank Tomicek. “Had triple-patties there on many occasions with a three-buck pitcher of Lone Star. I miss that place.”

UPDATE: Fred Cantu’s memories were added to the original post.