For more than 60 years, the Crestview Shopping Center has been part of our community. A. B. Beddow and Ray Yates, developers of the Crestview neighborhood, built it in 1952. This week, we share a few stories about the center and some of the special people who have worked there and keep it thriving. We’ve also added links to the businesses that have websites and to related stories on our website. (Many also have tiles on the mosaic Wall of Welcome, along the east side of the shopping center.)
Two businesses have been in continuous operation since the early 50s: Crestview Barber Shop and Crestview Beauty Salon. Crestview Pharmacy was owned by the Harper family from 1964 until 2017. Crestview Minimax IGA opened in 1953 and became an Arlan’s in early 2016. Perfecto Cleaners opened in the early 50s and was owned by three generations of the Custer family. More recent businesses include BriteLites Acting Studio, Little Deli, Project Transitions, and Ricky Wilson Manufacturing.
Brentwood neighbor Mona Lee Fultz opened BriteLites Acting Studio in the shopping center in 1992. She’s been an actress for 40 years, with roles in six of Richard Linklater’s films, including Bernie and Boyhood; in NBC’s Friday Night Lights; and in many other productions. She also coaches actors, including Ellar Coltrane in Linklater’s Boyhood, and is a screenwriter.
Pam Harries became the new owner of Crestview Barber Shop (left) in late 2002. Two months later, a car accidentally drove through the front window. No one was seriously injured, but the building sustained significant damage. Pam wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to reopen; she was back in business in six weeks. Roger Beck was a longtime musician and barber at the shop. (Learn more about Roger Beck and his good friend Kenneth Threadgill here.) Diane Bennett helped coordinate and promote the Violet Crown Festival for many years, beginning with the first one in 2003.
Crestview Beauty Salon owner Kathy Dunn has worked there since 1971. The salon opened in 1953. (See its tile from the Wall of Welcome, above.)
Herb Prellop and a business partner purchased Crestview Food Mart in 1953. Herb became sole owner of the store in 1956, and it became Crestview Minimax. In 1985, it joined the Independent Grocers’ Alliance—IGA. After Herb died in 1991, his son Ronnie managed the store until it was sold and became an Arlan’s Market in March 2016. In our film A Community Mosaic, longtime Crestview neighbor Bill Williamson spoke of how he remained a loyal customer of the store through the years because of Herb’s kindnesses to him and other neighbors during hard times. (Read more about Minimax and Ronnie’s involvement in music here.)
Kay Swenson Ramsey grew up in Brentwood and spent lots of time at the shopping center, especially when she was a teenager: “The stores I remember are the pharmacy and the Minimax. The pharmacy had fountain drinks, and you could get cherry limeades there. The Minimax had cute grocery sackers, so all the girls went up there to see who was workin’.”
Sisters Sabrina Becker (left, below), who owned Perfecto Cleaners (once between the grocery store and the pharmacy), and Lucretia Doyer (right, below), who owned Little Deli, are remembered for always knowing customers’ names. It’s something they learned from their parents, Joyce and A. J. Custer, who owned the dry cleaners after A. J.’s parents, Dora and Felix Custer. In 1993, Lucretia and her husband, Jonathan, opened a food trailer in the south parking lot of the shopping center. In a few years they opened Little Deli. About 2007, they sold it to Tony Villani, who owns it today.
Since 1988, the nonprofit Project Transitions has provided compassionate hospice, housing, and support services to people with HIV and AIDS in Central Texas. Its Top Drawer Thrift Store has two locations—at 4902 Burnet Road and, more recently, in Crestview Shopping Center, next to Little Deli. All proceeds of sales of items donated to Top Drawer benefit the programs and clients of Project Transitions.
The newest business in the center is Ricky Wilson Manufacturing, which opened in 2007 next to the barber shop. Ricky Wilson is one of five Certified Master Bench Jewelers in Austin.
You can see early (1956) photos of Crestview Shopping Center—and many other Texas-related photos and documents—on the Portal to Texas History website, created and maintained by the University of North Texas Libraries’ Digital Projects Unit.
Special thanks to the barber shop, beauty salon, and pharmacy for helping sell copies of our film A Community Mosaic and history booklet From Abercrombie to the Violet Crown; to BriteLites Studio and Crestview Pharmacy for providing space to show our film during the Wall of Welcome dedication in 2008 and the fall Violet Crown Festival at the shopping center in 2008 and 2009; and to Project Transitions, for providing display space for our neighborhood history exhibit during the Crestview Neighborhood Association Ice Cream Social in July 2015 and 2016. (A segment about the shopping center is featured in our film A Community Mosaic at 5:31.)
More stories to come on Voices of the Violet Crown!