Podcast: How the At Home deal was sealed

Home decor superstore At Home has announced it will occupy the property that was formerly Gander Mountain on Earl Rudder Freeway in College Station. That’s great news for consumers, but also for those in the economic development business since empty box stores along a major highway is not the image you prefer.

 

On this edition of Is This A Thing?, College Station’s Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and Oldham Goodwin Group EVP Clint Oldham talk about how the At Home deal came about, how fragile this deal – and all eco-devo deals, to be honest – really was, and how retail attitudes are no longer cowering from The Amazon Effect.

 

 

At Home superstore moving into old Gander Mountain building

A new business is moving into the old Gander Mountain building on Highway 6 in College Station.

At Home is a big box retail chain specializing in home decor products based in Plano.

Formerly known as Garden Ridge, the specialty stores carry more than 50,000 unique items across broad product categories including furniture, garden, home textiles, housewares, patio, rugs, seasonal decor, tabletop decor, and wall decor.

Read the full KBTX Story

College Station named one of America’s top places for small business

Small businesses thrive across America, but some towns are just perfect for a growing business. Topmanagementdegrees.com looked at all the cities in America with between 100,000 and 250,000 residents and ranked them on just how small business friendly they can be. College Station checked in at No. 15 on this list.

The 50 best towns for small business in America

Why doesn’t College Station have a Waffle House?

By , Economic Development Manager

On Monday, I received an email asking a simple question: Why has the City of College Station not reached out to Waffle House or made plans to build one in our community?

Since Waffle House is the mecca of waffle aficionados across much of America, the question is reasonable — and it’s one we hear a lot.

So why don’t we have a Waffle House?

Restaurants such as Waffle House are planned and built by private businesses. We proactively recruit many companies, including restaurants, and we’ve pursued Waffle House for several years. Unfortunately, its management has repeatedly said it has no plans to expand to College Station anytime soon.

The role of the city’s Economic Development department is to identify commercially zoned property with good visibility and access that companies such as Waffle House would find attractive. We then help that business navigate our development and permitting processes.

I’m a big fan of waffles and would love to see a Waffle House in College Station. If you have an influential contact who could change the company’s decision and bring a location here, you’d be a local hero.

Get to work!

Photo Copyright: dehooks/123RF Stock Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast: Chef Wade Barkman dishes on The Republic and Primrose Path

After 10 years of owning and operating The Republic Steakhouse in College Station, executive chef Wade Barkman is finally building his own restaurants – an updated Republic, plus a brand-new concept that shares a common slab – from the ground up.

In this podcast with Public Communications Director Jay Socol, Wade talks about life leading up to this point, and what people can expect with these new properties.

Total run time: 32:03

  • 00:00 – Show open.
  • 01:00 – PART ONE: Wade starts from the beginning, including how he found Texas A&M, moved on to culinary school, then California, Vegas (thank you, Aggie Network) and finally back to CS in 2006.
  • 08:20 – Wade finds his restaurant location — home to three or four previous ones. (Can you name them?)
  • 11:42 – The highs and lows of Chimney Hill: Why did Wade stay?
  • 14:30 – How he found a concept — The Republic — that the town needed, even if he wasn’t a steakhouse guy.
  • 17:48 – Why dozens of restaurants have come and gone in 10 years, but The Republic has survived. “I would not wish this business on anyone.”
  • 19:47 – PART TWO: The Republic is being recreated + Primrose Path, a “gastro-pub wine bar.”
  • 21:13 – The differences between the old Republic and the new one.
  • 24:14 – What is Primrose Path going to be?
  • 26:58 – Will you miss the old building, or take anything with you to the new place?
  • 28:07 – How was your development experience with the city of College Station?
  • 30:11 – Sometime in fall 2018: Republic will open, with Primrose Path doing so about a month later.
  • 30:49 – What’s your guilty pleasure in terms of food?
  • 31:49 – Show close.

 

Is This A Thing? What’s coming to CS and what’s not (Episode 6)

It’s been a long time since Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and Public Communications Director Jay Socol talked rumors versus reality in terms of restaurants, retail, and more. This episode of “Is This a Thing?” covers a lot of ground, including flip-flop scenarios about In-N-Out Burger.

Using examples of Academy and Gander Mountain, Nat also gives great insight into why vacant properties stay empty so long.

Total run time: 44:09

  • 00:00 – Show open.
  • 02:20 – University Drive: Kinds of businesses interested in University Town Center, its challenges; announcements by fall, then construction.
  • 05:45 – Chimney Hill: The Republic Steakhouse and Primrose Path; drive-thru Starbucks looks like a thing; what else has potential; the REAL story about In-N-Out Burger.
  • 10:36 – Burger Mojo update.
  • 11:50 – Century Square: Review of all the recent openings + what else is coming soon. How sustainable are all these businesses?
  • 15:43 – Northgate: Seeing more restaurants and retail interests. Food truck park. Small grocery has to be on the horizon.
  • 18:15 – Texas Avenue: Ace Hardware, Red Lion.
  • 19:15 – Pappadeaux status.
  • 22:05 – Honest talk about Harvey Road.
  • 26:15 – Why “available” buildings aren’t always…available. Example: The old Academy building.
  • 30:15 – Status of the Gander Mountain building.
  • 32:35 – Jones Crossing: Status of H-E-B and more.
  • 33:37 – Chef Tai’s Urban Table (I botch the name).
  • 34:15 – CapRock and Tower Point: Rx Pizza, Casa do Brasil, Ground Shuttle Transit, The Yard, Bottleneck Wine Bar, offices and more.
  • 36:05 – Gringo’s now has a building permit. Walk-On’s moving forward. TaD’s Louisiana Cooking.
  • 37:05 – Stella (from the owners of Harvey Washbanger’s).
  • 38:13 – New car dealerships.
  • 38:40 – Dunkin’ Donuts — anything?
  • 41:00 – Big boxes hit pause on new developments in 2017. Now, “the Amazon Effect” has forced brick-and-mortar brands to be creative with new online partnerships.
  • 43:51 – Show close.