For years, residents have hoped the Texas-based Pappas family would bring one of its popular restaurants to Waco, either Pappadeaux, Pappasito’s Cantina, Pappas Seafood House or Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, just to name those mentioned most.
Those dining options seemingly always make the list when people talk about what Waco needs or wants.
Local real estate agent Bland Cromwell has said he once invited a Pappas brother to Waco, gave him the grand tour of the city and touted what he considered some of the prime development sites.
As Cromwell tells it, the Pappas family member was polite but mentioned his doubts about whether Waco could support the chain’s lunchtime price points. Dinner? Any restaurant in the Pappas chain likely would attract a sizable evening crowd, but lunch was a sticking point that neither Cromwell nor other local suitors have overcome.
But Cromwell said during a recent interview he’s going to take another stab at enticing the Pappas clan to reconsider the city. Much has changed since he last put on a full-court press, he said. Baylor University’s McLane Stadium now rises gleaming on the banks of Lake Brazos; downtown has come alive with new shops, restaurants and lofts, with promises of more development to come; and Magnolia Market, “Fixer Upper” and Chip and Joanna Gaines have become national hits.
The Dallas-based Stainback Organization is also taking steps to develop a 200-acre site on Interstate 35, right across the highway from Central Texas Marketplace. Chairman and CEO Kent Stainback, a Baylor University graduate, reportedly joined Cromwell in meeting recently with Waco City Manager Dale Fisseler, among others, to talk in general terms about what they envision for the development.
Fisseler said he was impressed with the presentation. Cromwell said some head-turning, upscale names in the retail industry are being tossed around, and Kent Stainback is pursuing prospects like someone on a mission. He expects exciting announcements in 60 to 90 days.
With that scenario as the backdrop, Cromwell said he believes the Pappas family would look with favor on joining Waco’s momentum. He said interstate traffic would generate potential customers from all over, a good percentage of whom could afford steak or seafood at the noon hour.
The Tribune-Herald reported last week that P.F. Chang’s will open a restaurant on the lake at Legends Crossing, the upscale development at West Loop 340 and Interstate 35 that already features a Chuy’s, a Saltgrass Steak House and a Heitmiller’s.
Many readers mentioned P.F. Chang’s affiliation with Pei Wei, a chain with a location near Valley Mills and Waco drives.
True, P.F. Chang’s launched Pei Wei in 2000, hoping to make inroads in the fast-casual industry. It has grown to having a presence in more than 200 markets, making it comparable in size to P.F. Chang’s, and both are headquartered in Arizona.
P.F. Chang’s creates a more formal setting for dining on dishes prepared on a wok heated to 2,000 degrees, according to the chain’s website.
P.F. Chang’s, by the way, is named for founders Paul Fleming and Philip Chang. Besides serving entrees such as Chicken Lettuce Wraps, a favorite of several people who have written emails, P.F. Chang’s offers Asian beers, sake, specialty drinks and espresso.
It is expected to open in Legends Crossing next summer.
Pinot, Pizza & Policy
The public is invited to a meeting called “Pinot, Pizza & Policy” at 5 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce headquarters downtown, according to a press release from the chamber.
Speakers are Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver and local attorney Rick Brophy, who chairs the Waco Business League Appointed Office Committee.
They will discuss the work of the Governor’s Office of Appointments and the process for being named to boards and commissions in the city of Waco.
For more information, call Jessica Attas at 757-5600. Registration is appreciated but not required.