Lula Jane's

Lula Jane’s was recently included on Yelp’s list of the 100 top-rated restaurants nationwide.

To quote Lula Jane’s owner and operator Nancy Grayson, “Woo Hoo.”

The breakfast, brunch and lunch destination at 406 Elm Ave. has made Yelp’s list of the 100 best places in America to grab a bite.

Yelp, the online ranking and review site that lets users grade local businesses and dining options nationwide, had Lula Jane’s at No. 71 on its ranking, the only local establishment to make the list. Fans of Lula Jane’s do not need Yelp to tell them how good Lula Jane’s is, but such recognition is icing on the cake.

Grayson and Lula Jane’s serves fresh veggies, pastries, salads, delicious pimiento cheese sandwiches, and mouth-watering dishes such as baked oatmeal and blueberries and buttermilk pie. The chocolate-chip cookies are worth writing home about, two or three times, say Yelp responders.

Topping Yelp’s list was Bangers & Brews in Bend, Oregon, with Tender Smokehouse in Celina, Texas, taking the second spot. Tommy Tamale Market & Cafe in Grapevine made the top 10, and is within easy driving distance.

Urban Air features

Five new attractions have arrived at Urban Air Adventure Park, the indoor bouncing complex located just beyond the Richland Mall parking lot — on what remains the Sears end of the mall until further notice.

Dallas-based Urban Air continues to grow, its website crammed with announcements of openings across the country. It arrived in Waco in 2015, taking over a building once occupied by Best Buy electronics.

Urban Air held a grand opening Saturday for its expanded version, which includes an enhanced Sky Rider Indoor Coaster, ProZone Performance Trampolines, a new Urban Air Warrior Course, Rock Climbing Walls and an Indoor Ropes Course, according to a press release.

Existing features include wall-to-wall trampoline arenas, dodgeball courts, Slam Dunk Tracks, a Runway Tumble Track, and a “tubes” playground.

“Parents want their kids off their phones, giving them less ‘screen time,’ and more time to play and engage with other kids their age the old-fashioned way. We’ve got them covered at Urban Air,” founder and CEO Michael Browning wrote in a press release announcing the opening of other locations.

EMSI building

Speaking of finding entertainment for teens and adults, Waco real estate agent Raynor Campbell is marketing the longtime EMSI building at Panther Way and Hewitt Drive with hopes of attracting something fun and family friendly. He tossed around such names as Dave & Buster’s and Pinstack, a bowling alley.

EMSI, a longtime operator of customer-contact centers, reportedly will leave the 32,000-square-foot facility on Hewitt Drive by spring, making the site available for leasing, Campbell said. EMSI has already sold the building to an investor he represents, Campbell said. He said he believes about 200 people work there but does not know if their jobs will be eliminated or relocated.

EMSI has not returned phone messages and emails seeking comment.

The building’s page on the Reid-Peevey Company Real Estate website shows the building positioned on a 3.3-acre site with 163 parking spaces. The listed lease rate is $8.25 a square foot, according to the website.

Travel agency

Chad and Ginger Jackson, founders of the Katie’s Frozen Custard shop in Waco, have spread their entrepreneurial wings, so to speak, and opened a new Expedia CruisShipsCenters retail travel agency at Crossroads West Shopping Center at U.S. Highway 84 and Hewitt Drive.

Chad Jackson grew up in Missouri and traveled frequently with his parents who were missionaries in Thailand and Indonesia, according to a press release. He worked five years as an audiologist before moving to Waco and starting Katie’s Frozen Custard, which is named after his niece. Ginger Jackson, meanwhile, traveled a lot as a medical sales representative.

They combined their passion for business and travel by launching the franchised agency, which opened Dec. 3. Expedia CruiseShipCenters has 255 branded locations across North America, according to the press release.

Ranger Museum visitors

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, like most tourist attractions locally, enjoyed a stellar year in 2018, according to its newsletter.

A total of 96,491 people visited the complex at Interstate 35 and University Parks Drive, “the best attendance on record since the doors opened 50 years ago,” according to the newsletter. And 93 percent of guests on TripAdvisor rate their experience at the Texas Ranger showcase “very good to excellent,” awarding 4.5 of 5 stars, the newsletter states. Meanwhile, the tourism guide ThreeBestRated selected it one of the three best places to see in Waco.

Building permit roundup

Several intriguing building permits already have been issued this year:

  • Plano-based New Era Partners, real estate developers with a multibillion-dollar portfolio, secured a permit to place an Oceans Behavioral Health Hospital at 5931 Crosslake Parkway, on acreage near the Legends Crossing mixed-use development and Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center. The permit places the estimated cost at $8.8 million. Oceans has 14 locations in Texas and Louisiana serving older adults suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and behavioral changes, according to its website.
  • A permit valued at $4 million was issued for renovations to the historic Stratton Building at Eighth Street and Austin Avenue, where developer Peter Ellis has proposed a five-story dining, arts and residential complex.
  • Murphy Oil USA, which typically opens fuel stations at or near Walmart locations, will place a $2.5 million convenience store at 8515 Imperial Drive.
  • James Avery Artisan Jewelry in Central Texas Marketplace has acquired a permit to modify the store for $450,000.

RG3’s house

Perhaps former Baylor University football star and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III should consider securing a real estate license.

That is if the talented but often-injured RGIII, last seen serving as a backup quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens, does not already have one. reported Griffin has placed his mansion on Lake Conroe, near Houston, on the market priced at $2.6 million. The gated-community property has seven bedrooms, seven baths, a smattering of half-baths, a wine grotto and a nine-car garage with space for a golf cart.

Griffin, originally drafted by the Washington Redskins but later a Cleveland Browns signee, also bought a 10-room mansion in Reunion, Florida, and a sprawling farmhouse in Leesburg, Virginia, with later reporting they had hit the market at $3.3 million and $2.74 million, respectively.

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