Local Denny’s franchisee Moody Aljadael has bought land adjacent to the Sam’s Club in Bellmead and hopes to have a new restaurant in place by May that could become popular with staffers at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative now under development.
Aljadael, formerly of Arlington and a longtime executive in the Denny’s chain, said he chose Waco as a territory when he made a career shift and became a franchisee. He owns Denny’s locations at 1100 S. Ninth St. near Baylor University and in the Flying J travel center at New Road and Interstate 35.
Aljadael said he is concerned that he could lose his location adjacent to Baylor as part of the Texas Department of Transportation’s continued widening of I-35 north and south of Waco and through the city.
TxDOT has prepared schematics for expanding I-35 near Baylor and the new $250 million football stadium under construction on the banks of the Brazos River, but it has not secured funding for all phases of the project.
But Aljadael said he did not want to take any chances. He said he thinks construction of the new stadium will benefit restaurants and hotels along the I-35 corridor. His new Denny’s will operate near a Sam’s Club, an H-E-B grocery store and the Collin Street Bakery, all on or near the
Doreen Plott, who brokered the sale of land to Aljadael, said she thinks restaurants on that side of town also will benefit from BRIC, the high-tech research complex and training center under development at the old General Tire plant at Business Highway 77 and Orchard Lane.
“The planners are expecting 500 people to occupy that place, and they will need to eat somewhere,” Plott said.
Plott also has acreage for sale adjacent to the Denny’s site and hopes to see a shopping center developed there.
Aljadael said he began his career with Denny’s as a dishwasher, and moved up the ranks to oversee operations in eight states.
“I fell in love with the Waco community, and when given the opportunity, I became franchisee for this area,” he said.
He said his Flying J location is performing well, but the Baylor-area site has suffered because of roadwork along the interstate.
The South Carolina-based chain franchises or operates nearly 1,700 locations and recently entered into a partnership to open units in South America. It bills itself as “America’s Diner,” and its units typically stay open 24 hours.
Aljadael said he will employ 45 to 50 when he opens his restaurant. He said he will keep his Baylor-area location open as long as possible. If TxDOT does not buy the site to accommodate its plans, Aljadael said he will weigh his options.