koko ramen

Union Hall, at Eighth Street and Franklin Avenue, is part of a rapidly changing stretch through downtown Waco.

At long last, the Union Hall food hall at Eighth Street and Franklin Avenue has set a date for its formal opening, though several places already are serving.

The project of developers Shane Turner and Todd Behringer, marketed by Turner Behringer Real Estate agents Jonathan Garza and Clay Fuller, involved packing a remodeled sports bar with wall-to-wall food and drink places. Sam Castillo, with the La Fiesta Tex-Mex family, holds liquor rights, and also will operate a main watering hole dubbed, appropriately, Sam’s Bar. In all, visitors can avail themselves of stalls and common areas spread over 18,000 square feet. Only the federal courthouse and Eighth Street stand between Union Hall and the Tribune-Herald offices, and reporters give the fare high marks.

The list of foodies with a spot in Union Hall includes Whizzbang’s Burgers, Koko Ramen, Unshakeable Milkshakes, Press Waffle Co., Huaco Eatery, Around The World, Ceviche Del Mar, Luna Juice Bar, Blasian Asian, Wacool Tacos & Tamales, Kurbside Coffee, and Wings of Waco, according to the Union Hall website.

“We are currently in negotiations with the larger retail spaces on the corners of Union Hall,” Garza said in an email response to questions. “We only have four stalls total left and have generated a lot of interest in the spaces since announcing our grand opening. In the meantime, we will utilize the spaces as extra seating and may have some pop-up vendors as well.”

The three-day unveiling will last from Jan. 23, when local media will be invited to tour Union Hall and meet with vendors, to Jan. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when additional hall users will be introduced and the public is invited to attend. The first 50 guests will receive a free Union Hall T-shirt.

“This is our formal opening and an opportunity for the community to come see Union Hall,” Garza wrote.

Meanwhile, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Union Hall at 11 a.m. Jan. 24.

Oil prices

A U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Friday in Iraq, and now questions have arisen over Middle East tensions and oil prices.

Crude oil prices increased 3.42% Friday, to $63 a barrel, but experts are saying the U.S. is better able to forestall long-term price increases than it was in 1990, during the first Gulf War, and during the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and 1980, according to reporting by marketwatch.com.

For one thing, the U.S. now produces more oil.

“We’ve added 7.5 million barrels a day of oil production versus a decade ago,” Gasbuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan told Marketwatch.

Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally, “literally has switches they can pull, and within a week they can have over a million barrels a day of additional production available,” DeHaan said.

AAA Texas, meanwhile, is reporting a statewide surge in gas prices. Its Texas Weekend Gas Watch released Thursday shows gasoline rose 7 cents, to $2.29 for a gallon of regular unleaded, during the previous week. That is 36 cents per gallon more than the same day last year, according to AAA Texas.

‘State of the Year’

Texas is Business Facilities magazine’s “State of the Year” for 2019, winning the award a fourth time, according to a Governor’s Office press release.

“Business Facilities is a national publication that has been the leading location source for corporate site selectors and economic development professionals for more than 50 years,” the press release states.

“Thanks to our unrivaled workforce and our commitment to economic freedom, Texas continues to shine as America’s center for job creation, innovation and economic development,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote in the press release.

Tax break proposal

The Waco City Council and McLennan County Commissioners Court are scheduled to vote Jan. 21 on tax abatements for a Canadian company hoping to build trailers in Greater Waco. The arrangement would be with Timber US Inc., which proposes an office complex and 54,000-square-foot warehouse on about 17 acres now owned by the Waco Industrial Foundation.

Aspen Custom Trailers US Inc. would lease the space from Timber US Inc., according to information provided the council and commissioners. About $8 million would be invested in real property, $3.2 million in personal property. No word yet on the number of jobs the company would create locally, though county officials have said there would be demand for welders.

Aspen makes trailers to accommodate 25-ton to 300-ton loads for use in the oilfield, mining and heavy-haul sectors, according to its website.

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