At the new Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers on South Eighth Street on Tuesday, the first 20 dine-in customers ages 13 and older will get free food for a year.

The third Greater Waco location of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday at South Eighth Street and the Interstate 35 frontage road, according to a press release Thursday. It will open near the restaurant row formed by Chick-fil-A, a new Whataburger under construction, a new Panera Bread under construction and Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers.

The first 20 dine-in customers ages 13 and older will get free Raising Cane’s food for a year, and the first 100 customers ages 13 and older will get free Cane’s Waco T-shirts and a voucher for a free box combo, according to the press release.

The company has hired 60 people to staff the new location.

Other Cane’s locations do business on other restaurant rows on Franklin Avenue and Hewitt Drive.

Waco radio station 97.5 FM, the Baylor University Spirit Squad and Baylor’s mascot, Bruiser, will perform at various times throughout the day Tuesday, according to the press release.

Since its founding in 1996 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the chain has grown to more than 280 locations in 21 states, according to the press release.

Compressed natural gas vehicles

An event called Lunch-N-Learn will offer information about the use of compressed natural gas in fleet vehicles from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Region 12 Education Service Center at 2101 West Loop 340, according to a news release from the Texas Natural Gas Foundation.

Following the presentation, attendees are invited to tour ampCNG’s refueling facility at 1606 Exchange Parkway.

Several Waco-area companies already use compressed natural gas in most or all of their vehicles, including Central Freight Lines, the city of Temple and Western Dairies Transport. They will have representatives at the meeting to discuss refueling options for CNG vehicles in the Waco area.

Information will be provided about the latest incentives available for transitioning to compressed natural gas and new maintenance and training programs for the use of natural gas offered by Texas State Technical College in Waco, according to the Texas Natural Gas Foundation, which is hosting the event.

State Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson will attend the program and discuss how state fleets can improve their bottom line by using CNG.

Balcones tops in USA Today poll

USA Today, the national newspaper, polled its readers on their favorite craft distilleries, and Waco-based Balcones Distilling finished No. 1 among whiskey distilleries, beating out Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. of Louisville, Kentucky, for the top spot among 10 finalists.

The newspaper recruited a panel of craft spirits experts to nominate 20 distillers in each category from which respondents could choose. These authorities included bartenders, spirits journalists and competition judges. The categories included whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, tequila and specialty spirits.

“When you pick up a bottle of Balcones whiskey, you’ll notice it has been individually stamped in wax and labeled with a handwritten batch number,” USA Today wrote in announcing Balcones’ win. “Balcones Distilling’s lineup includes a Texas Single Malt, Baby Blue blue corn whiskey and Brimstone Texas Scrub Oak Smoked corn whiskey. Limited-release single-barrel whiskeys highlight unique variants and experimental whiskeys found nowhere else.”

Of the top 10 craft whiskey distillers in the U.S., two are in the Lone Star State. Besides Waco’s Balcones, the other is Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, which took sixth.

H-E-B Partner of the Year

H-E-B recognized 27 employees from Central Texas during its 17th annual Partner of the Year luncheon at Wildflower Country Club in Temple, according to a press release.

Those honored from the Greater Waco area include Ethan Horton, a checker at the H-E-B at Wooded Acres Drive and Bosque Boulevard, and Rafael Ponce, who has worked at the Woodway H-E-B Plus! for four years. Meanwhile, Tin Bien has worked at the H-E-B in Gatesville for 20 years and serves as a food service specialist.

“Nonmanagement individuals were nominated by fellow partners and selected by H-E-B’s Heart of Texas Diversity Council based on their accountability to uphold H-E-B’s ‘Bold Promise’ and had previously been selected by their store’s management team as ‘Partner of the Month’ within the last year,” according to the press release.

Keynote speaker at the event was John Kitna, the former Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback who filled in for an injured Tony Romo in 2010.

Blink Fitness looks to expand

Blink Fitness is looking to enter the Waco market, according to a news release from the company that has opened or is developing 60 locations in New York and New Jersey.

It is pursuing franchisees, and anyone interested is asked to contact Ed Yancey, vice president and director of franchise development, at 212-359-8780.

Blink Fitness reportedly has created a brand by applying what it calls the “Feed Good Experience.” It says it achieves this goal by providing “a respectful and friendly staff, bright and open gym design using colors that are scientifically proven to enhance mood, a spotlessly clean facility and music specifically selected to motivate members.”

“The moment has arrived to bring Blink to Waco. Our membership numbers and our ability to consistently open new gyms is perfect proof that Blink is ripe for expansion,” President Todd Magazine said in the press release. “Our members relate to the Mood Above Muscle approach that Blink Fitness fosters, creating an environment and ethos around the importance of feeling good instead of just looking good.”

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