After enjoying bargains at the gasoline pumps for much of 2016, Waco motorists are ringing in 2017 staring at prices about 35 cents higher per gallon than a year ago.

The petroleum market in recent weeks has been reacting to plans OPEC announced to curtail production, thus driving up the prices of both oil and gas. Whether members of OPEC will do what they say or flinch, as they’ve done so often in the past, has fueled speculation and spooked speculators.

What we know for sure is that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Texas increased 5 cents to $2.11 per gallon during the week ending last Thursday, which is when AAA Texas released its most recent gas-watch report. Statewide, motorists are paying 34 cents more than they were this time a year earlier.

The AAA report speculated that gasoline use would drop significantly during January, with the end of the holiday driving season. But AAA would not say if the declining thirst for gasoline would translate into lower prices. The world will be watching to see if OPEC indeed cuts crude production by 1.8 million gallons per day, according to AAA.

“Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab Gulf countries will stick to the deal, while Libya and Nigeria could potentially increase their production output if conflict in both countries continues,” according to the AAA report.

In Waco on Friday, motorists were paying an average of $2.11 a gallon for regular unleaded, about 6 cents more than the going rate a week earlier, according to That compares to an average of $1.76 a year ago and $1.88 just a month ago, a time of year when prices are typically going down, not up.

“The gas prices, of course, are being driven by somewhat higher oil prices, which in turn reflect largely the efforts of the OPEC and non-OPEC countries to cut oil production,” Waco-based economist Ray Perryman said by email.

“Given the difficulties that lower prices were causing in many of these economies, it is likely that they will maintain discipline. The increase in prices is, on balance, beneficial to the Texas economy. Rig counts and other measures of the oil and gas sector are already picking up, and prices are getting close to the point, in terms of both pricing and duration, where substantial drilling activity becomes feasible.”

Perryman said petroleum prices affect more than our attitude at the pump. They circulate throughout the economy.

“People often forget that petroleum is a fundamental part of plastics, adhesives, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fibers, paints and many products, as well as a source for heating and cooling in many parts of the country,” Perryman said.

“Higher petroleum prices are typically a drag on the economy of the United States, although Texas is a net winner. Central Texas does not have a large presence of the oil and gas economy, and thus response is more like the U.S. as a whole.”

On the bright side, AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved about $27 billion at the pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year.

And though gas prices have been creeping up in recent weeks, “U.S. drivers are expected to pay the second-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.”

2 new restaurants

Greater Waco has seen the arrival of two new restaurants, including Te’Jun the Texas Cajun, a seafood restaurant now operating at 711 N. Robinson Drive.

Te’Jun serves Alaskan snow crab, lobster, Texas Gulf shrimp and large Atlantic white shrimp, according to its website and a Facebook posting announcing its arrival in Robinson.

The business operated out of a food truck in Robinson for years before choosing to build a permanent location. It also will serve Cajun sausage and farm-raised crawfish when available.

Hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Restaurant manager Ashley Roper said the restaurant is owned by Joe and Tammy Reid, of Teague, who operate mobile food trucks in Corsicana, Fairfield and Mexia.

“Robinson is the first community to have a brick-and-mortar restaurant opened by the Reids,” Roper said.

Business so far has been good, she said.

Meanwhile, Mary Sue’s Diner has opened at 1001 Enterprise Blvd. in Hewitt to serve Southern comfort food and traditional Mexican dishes, said Monika Salinas, who owns and operates the restaurant with her husband, John Salinas. She said Mary Sue’s offers chicken-fried steak, burgers, hot tamales, menudo and daily specials.

Hours of operation are from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. or later Sunday.

Restoration 1 grows in ’16

A venture local franchising veteran Gary Findley launched in 2008 has made waves around the country this year, reaching 100 franchising territories in 26 states.

Restoration 1 specializes in emergency services related to water extraction, mold remediation, drying and dehumidification, fire and smoke damage restoration, storm-response services and general maintenance and cleaning services, according to a company press release.

Findley founded the company in 2008, and it hit a growth spurt in 2016. Seventy-five of its 100 franchising territories have been sold in since January 2016, It hopes to add 100 locations a year for the next four years, according to the press release.

“This milestone is a true testament to the brand’s appeal and the ever-growing demand for restoration and mitigation services,” Findley said in the press release. “Even as we grow, customer satisfaction is still our biggest priority, and we are excited to bring our reliable service to more communities throughout the nation.

“It’s been a great year for the company, and we anticipate many more milestones in 2017.”

Entrepreneur magazine has named Restoration 1 as one of its promising brands in its “10 Hottest Franchise Business Categories” list.

Findley, who serves as CEO of Restoration 1, has been involved in several franchising success stories, including that of Waco-based Curves International, founded by Gary and Diane Heavin.

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