A group of Richardson residents with the support of those across the region are looking to preserve what’s left of an iconic piece of the city’s history.

In June, when rumors were circulating that the Como Motel—once a staple of the community and now a boarded up Googie architecture building along the access road of US 75—could become a parking lot, Richardson resident Lindsey Sherritt began the Save the Como preservation campaign, which has since garnered more than 5,200 signatures in support.

“You have to think about what it stands for, what it used to be and what it can be in the future,” said Sherritt, who started the campaign and is the administrator of its website. “All of that is lost if you bulldoze it for parking.”

Now the group is waiting to hear the fate of the formerly longest-running motel in the city from its new owners, Houston-based Pappas Restaurants.

Pappas Restaurants officials did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication.

How we got here

Built in 1956, the formerly 35-room Como Motel was once a large part of the community, sponsoring Little League baseball teams and breaking racial barriers at the time by allowing Black kids to swim in the pool during the summer, according to a since-deleted post on the Richardson Chamber of Commerce’s website shared by Sherritt.

“These kinds of cool, old places, they have historic value; they have a place and a presence that give character to a city,” said Reid Robinson, owner of Beyond the Bar and supporter of the campaign.

In the '80s and early '90s, the motel gained notoriety as an unsavory place and was most famously the scene of the Candy Montgomery-Allan Gore affair, the story of which was made into the HBO crime drama “Love & Death.” However, City Manager Don Magner said the motel was not any more crime-ridden than any other area of the city in recent years.

The motel closed in July, according to the Save the Como campaign's petition.

“It's more than that though; that's just one chapter in its history,” Sherritt said. “You just can't focus on the negative, and you don't need to see it for just what it currently is. I see the Como as being the future, too. It’s absolutely something that can grow with the city of Richardson.”

Previous owner, Judy Cash, closed a deal with Pappas Restaurants that month, after Sherritt said they found the cost of repairs and maintenance on the 67-year-old building unsustainable. In 2023, the property was valued at $769,000, according to Dallas County Appraisal District records.

“It's really kind of the last of the great, old roadside motels that are actually still standing in Dallas County,” Robinson said.

What’s next?

Sherritt and Robinson said their initial fears were that the Como Motel property would be turned into a parking lot. They added that when the Save the Como campaign first started, they hoped the property would be restored into a boutique-style hotel.

Since Pappas Restaurants bought the property, officials with the company have signaled a willingness to engage with Sherritt and the community on options beyond what is typically built by the restaurant group, Sherritt said.

“People go to cities because they have interesting architectural features and historic places,” Robinson said. “We thought about different adaptive reuse ideas for the property, [so] it can possibly be part motel, part community space.”

Options presented by Sherritt to the company include maintaining a portion of the property as a hotel and converting other parts for restaurant use and communal space. Sherritt and Robinson see hope in their support from their online campaign and from Pappas Restaurants' Dot Coffee Shop property in Houston, which was the Pappas family’s first location in 1967 and still maintains the era’s flair.

Sherritt said she has not heard back from Pappas Restaurants officials on her proposals and has not received any indication on when that might happen.

“The fact that they themselves hold onto their own history and could have torn it down, could have moved locations or upgraded, but are still located in the same location in Houston—that gives me hope,” Sherritt said. “Hopefully, they can extend that to what we're trying to do here in Richardson with our [history].”

Magner said the company could still put a parking lot on the property by right, though the issue would need to come before City Council for the property to be replatted. He added a number of other uses would be allowed due to the property’s commercial zoning. However, there are some uses, such as a drive-thru, that would require a special hearing, he said.

“There is not much left that has been maintained, which is really sad. And it's not even just that you should care about this because you like architecture, you like history or you like old buildings,” Sherritt said. “[The Como] is part of the history of the fiber of Richardson. I think that's why we should care. It speaks to a time that is gone. ... It is still useful; it still has a purpose.”

Editors note: This article has been updated to reflect that Judy Cash was the previous owner of the Como Motel before the property was purchased by Pappas Restaurants.