Sunday, May 13, 2007

The End of an Era on Fry Street

In just a little more than thirty minutes after I've started this post, the Tomato will close the doors of its original Hickory and Fry location for good.

I went up there yesterday with some friends, and of course I took pictures:

View from across Fry St.

The traditional view from across Hickory
(And for a really old picture of that block, go here.)

It was pretty crowded inside the whole time we were there.

Headed out the door one last time.

Thinking back, I should've taken some pictures of the Graffiti Wall. There used to be murals along the wall in the non-smoking section where I often sat, and the most recent one was painted over a few months ago to allow patrons to sign their names and offer their memories, but as Becky, the co-owner, told me a few weeks ago, it sort of turned into something else entirely. Seeing as how I lack Mad Photoshop Skillz, I doubt I could've cleaned up a picture of the wall enough to use in this blog; some of what was written really was quite, umm, "interesting."

My favorite (clean) graffito carved into a table? "TOBIAS LOVES BROCOLI [sic]." That would also be a cool name for a rock band. My favorite (also clean) graffito from the wall itself? "ALL MY BASE ARE BELONG TO THE TOMATO." (Raise your hand if you knew that "graffiti" was plural and "graffito" was its singular. "Broccoli"--at least when spelled correctly--is also plural, with the singular being "broccolo," though my radio audience in college never could tell me if the singular form would apply to an entire stalk or each individual branch of said stalk. These are the kind of thing one thinks about in idle college moments...and a lot of those idle moments for me were spent at the Tomato.)

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I couldn't disagree more with what the developers are doing to this historical block--an area which really has been a major part of the heart and soul of Denton. Perhaps nothing sums up my frustration with the whole thing better than the following sentence from this story in Friday's paper:
The company plans to tear down the existing strip center, built in the mid-1920s, and replace it with a retail center featuring 1920s-style architecture.
Got that? They're tearing down buildings from the '20s and replacing them with...umm, buildings that look like they were built in the '20s. Am I missing something here, or does that make no sense at all?

It sure seems like they could've gotten off on the right foot with the locals (and loyal alums like myself) by incorporating the original buildings into the new development and making room for some of the stalwart local businesses to join the new ones. But despite all the preservation efforts and petition drives, the developers decided to bow to the almighty dollar and nothing else.

They may yet regret that decision. I for one harbor not the slightest bit of enthusiasm for anything that gets built in this new project, and most of my friends who are current students feel the same way. I think I even convinced a future student to drive across town for his Starbucks--or patronize the local Kharma Cafe across the street (in the part of Fry Street that hasn't been targeted by "renewal"--yet) to satisfy his coffee jones, rather than visit the Starbucks that's supposed to be built in the new area. (Yes, I normally think that it's bad to indoctrinate college students with propaganda before they even start classes, but I'll happily make an exception in this case.)

As I finish this post (lengthened by the process of remembering how to get pictures off my phone), it nears midnight; the aforementioned doors are closing. So I will close this post as well, with three simple sentences:

Good night, Tomato. Thanks for the pizza and memories. I eagerly await your rebirth.


Anonymous said...

Great pictures. Brings back a lot of memories. Hate to see the place go.

Kev said...

Yeah, as you may have read in the articles, they're moving to a location near Golden Triangle Mall (a huge shopping center with a Best Buy has been built on the other side of the old railroad tracks since you left Denton), but I really hope they'll be able to find a permanent home near the campus again.

As bad as it will be to see a big gaping hole on that block, I think it will be even worse when a generic chain drugstore is eventually built on that site.