The Waco Business Newsletter: May 29, 2019

A bi-monthly newsletter investigating the people, places, and policies shaping Waco’s economy.

I'm Austin Meek, Vox of Waco Business News and host of "Downtown Depot," the radio show and podcast tracking the ins and outs of Waco business. Listen live on Fridays at 11:30AM on 103.3 KWBU-FM or stream previous episodes of "Downtown Depot" anytime via Apple PodcastsNPR, and Waco Business News.

The Waco Business Newsletter: May 29, 2019


  1. Press Waffle Co., a gourmet dessert waffle company based in Dallas, will take space in Union Hall when it opens later this summer. Owners Bryan and Caleb Lewis recently accepted $300,000 in funding from Barbara Corcoran on the hit TV show, Shark Tank. Union Hall is an 18,000-square-foot food hall on Franklin Avenue currently under construction. According to Jonathan Garza of Turner-Behringer, the developers of the project, other inked tenants include Captain Billy Whizzbang's, a street taco concept from La Fiesta, and an upscale meat market. (Fast Casual)

  2. Hunter Harlow is El Jefe of Sendero Provisons Co., a local outdoor apparel retailer that has blossomed into an e-commerce giant. He joined me on Downtown Depot to talk about the brand's digital strategy and plans for growth. (Waco Business News)

  3. Escape rooms, putt putt golf...and hatchet throwing? Commercial real estate expert Gregg Glime examines the rise of family-friendly entertainment options in the downtown area, like Putters and Waco Escape Rooms. (Waco Business News)

  4. The Waco Regional Airport is flying high! A total of 5,873 enplanements (flights out of Waco) were recorded in April, which is a nearly 27 percent increase over the same month last year. I represent District IV on the Aviation Advisory Board and have been very impressed with the leadership of the airport's director, Joel Martinez. Depending upon the destination, it is sometimes less expensive to fly out of Waco than it would be to travel to Austin or Dallas, even when excluding parking and gas costs. (The Waco Tribune-Herald

  5. Mike Bidwell, CEO of Neighborly (formerly the Dwyer Group), has guided the company past the $2 billion mark in annual sales. Neighborly grew to a total of nearly 3,600 franchisees across nine countries in 2018, and the company sold a total of 325 new franchise units across its 22 home-service brands. (Neighborly)

  6. Lane Murphy, an October 2017 Downtown Depot guest, hopes to add the former St. James United Methodist Church to the National Register of Historic Places. He's pursuing the designation prior to construction, which is planned to begin in a month and last nearly a year. (The Waco Tribune-Herald)


  1. A bill that would limit construction regulations enforceable by cities is sitting on the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott in Austin. Many local governments have laws requiring that new homes be built with certain materials, like stone or brick, and those purchases are often funneled to the same handful of providers. According to State Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway), the current system restricts consumer choice, drives up housing costs due to materials requirements, and limits affordable housing stock. Opponents of the bill say it will inhibit cities' abilities to maintain a uniform look in residential areas and “make structures in Texas cities less safe and sustainable.” Personally, I think it's a good bill; cronyism is rampant, houses are more expensive than they need to be, and areas of historical, cultural or architectural significance would still be protected under the legislation. (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles will soon abolish its $15 entry fee, making the museum free for all. “Charging admission is counterintuitive to art’s ability and purpose to connect, inspire, and heal people," said Carolyn Clark Powers, a board member whose $10 million donation will offset the lost gate receipts. As Fiona Bond of Creative Waco always says: arts and culture spur economic development! My bet is that businesses surrounding the museum will see substantial revenue growth. (The New York Times)

  3. Five Houston industrial buildings will find new life as The MKT, a mixed-use development in The Heights neighborhood. The name comes from the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad which ran from that area, through Waco, on its way north. Much of the real estate from the defunct train track in The Heights has been converted into the Heights Hike and Bike Trail, which conceivably would be a use for Waco's defunct tracks as well. (Innovation Map)