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 TxDOTâ€™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 â€œpremium, fast-casualâ€ vibe, company president Darrin Staughan told the HBJâ€™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 JCIâ€™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.