A Shipley Near River Oaks Where ‘Large Marge’ Served Up Much More than Donuts, Coffee, and Kolaches


“We went there the very last night they were open and ended up on the TV news,” remembers reader Laura Friedl Jones of the 24-hour Shipley Coffee Shop and Grill that stood for years at the corner of W. Gray St. and Dunlavy St., where the Office Max above squats today.

While you could pick up a dozen glazed there, the fare at this Shipley ranged far afield of the norm for the homegrown chain:



T-Bones? Veal Cutlets? Open face trout sandwiches? At a Shipley?


“I had a fried egg sandwich and french fries,” remembers Jones, who believes the restaurant closed down in the early 1990s. “Everyone called the waitress who worked there ‘Marge’ after Large Marge from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. [Though] that wasn’t her real name the TV channel that did the news story identified her as ‘Marge.’ Oopsie.”

The grill was operated by the Demeris family of local BBQ renown. It provided round-the-clock competition for the original location of Bibas’ One’s a Meal, across the street at 2019 W. Gray St. In 1996, One’s a Meal migrated east along West Gray, then, in 2008, south to 812 Westheimer Rd., where it became Theo’s Restaurant in 2011.

Photos:Camden Securities Company (Office Max); Laura Friedl Jones (menu)

Memories Of Old West Gray

13 Comment

  • You could walk in any time, day or night, and eat chili and doughnuts, and no one could stop you. At the time we had no idea how special that was.

  • certainly sounds interesting, and kind of depressing to think how long it’s been since i’ve heard houston called space city, but what we really want know is could it compete with house of pies on the food and christy’s on the donuts?

  • I remember it growing up, but I thought is was long gone by the early 90s..

  • Decades ago I had friends who thrilled at going to this place in the wee hours to watch newborn donuts flowing down the ‘river of grease’. My friends were easily amused.

  • Thanks for the reminder, I ate there, Ones a Meal and Captain John’s many times. Also used to get fresh bear claws from Mrs. Baird’s Bakery.

  • When I read the headline I immediately thought there was a gruesome murdering waitress that served up “more” than Donuts, Coffee, and Kolaches”.

  • The grin and wink on that chefs face would have sent me running out the front door. Looks like he may be up to something more then donuts and chili!

  • It was well before the 1990s that it disappeared – that center ate the entire block, and the Cineplex Odeon anchor at the other end of the center was WELL established by 1991.

    (I’d also quibble on the semantics for the One’s A Meal move – Omonia was One’s A Meal in all but exterior signage by 1993, really.)

  • Yep, that complex was built in the 80’s. Shipley’s was gone way before the 90’s. It was late 80’s or very early 90’s when One’s A Meal moved. There was also a Black-Eyed Pea on the corner of Gray and Shepherd in the since torn down and replaced with ugly ROC. Also remember a Birraporetti’s, Chilies, and a El Patio. ROC is way to “upscale” now to support those types of places.

  • That place had a terrific neon sign of a cup of coffee, too.

  • Biraporetti’s is now California Pizza Kitchen (or CPK whatever their branding is now). Shipley’s was definitely gone by 1991.

  • The Shipley diner was torn down in 1989 or 1990. The strip center with the Cineplex Odeon opened in 1990.

  • I remember that place. If I recall correctly there was also a large red neon donut (really two irregular circles.) I think there were vacant lots all around it. Were there even a few cows grazing? I could be way off here — I’m thinking around 1980 or 81. Saw it all the time going to Birraporetti’s from Rice.