A Swamplot reader writes in to report that the JCI Grill across I-45 from the Home Depot near Gulfgate Mall is now closed. No need to get too close in order to tell; the electronic sign fronting the feeder road gets the message across to highway drivers as shown above. Behind it, you can see the new ramp TxDOT’s been working on to connect 610 eastbound to I-45 northbound — as well as the shadow it’s cast on the restaurant’s parking lot.
A flyer posted on the building says the construction was in part what inspired the closure:
The ramp is labeled number 2 in the diagram below, which indicates a whole bunch of improvements the highway agency is making to the Gulf Fwy.-S. Loop junction. Among them: a new aerial connector on the opposite side of the road linking I-45 southbound to the 610 Loop west (number 1), reconstruction of the existing Reveille St. bridges to cross over the I-610 feeder roads (3), a few upgrades to the I-45 southbound feeder along Gulfgate Mall (5), widening the 610 westbound pavement from Woodridge Dr. to a bit west of Broad St. (4), and upgrades to the ramp between I-45 southbound and Reveille St. (7).
Five years ago, JCI downsized its anthropomorphic hot dog mascot as part of a chain-wide rebranding meant to give off more of a “premium, fast-casual” vibe, company president Darrin Staughan told the HBJ’s Shaina Zucker at the time. It also relegated its original name, James Coney Island, to a less prominent spot on store signage. Legend has it that JCI’s founder James Papadakis won the naming rights from his brother and cofounder Tom based on the results of a coin toss. Born in Greece, the pair started the company in 1923 and kept it in the family until filing for Chapter 11 in 1988 and selling it to a group of local investors.