Crews for P.F. Chang’s China Bistro are putting the finishing touches on a 7,000-square-foot, pond-fronting restaurant at the Legends Crossing development at West Loop 340 and Interstate 35.

The restaurant was announced about a year ago and will open to the public Oct. 15, after a couple of invitation-only events, operating partner Calvin Leslie said.

Leslie’s resume includes a stint at the original P.F. Chang’s in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has seen the chain grow to more than 200 locations, and he senses enthusiasm among local residents as opening-day approaches.

“Absolutely, as I visit with people around town, there is excitement about P.F. Chang’s choosing Waco for expansion,” Leslie said.

He has Texas roots and moved back to be closer to family and to operate his own place.

Jess Dawson, who will serve as senior manager, said he has filled about 85 of the 160 full- and part-time positions he hopes to put on the payroll.

“There remain a lot of opportunities for servers, line cooks and bartenders,” Dawson said.

Anyone interested in applying should visit the P.F. Chang’s website.

Dawson said he is an Army brat who attended nine schools between kindergarten and high school. He has worked in management at P.F. Chang’s locations in Virginia Beach and Newport News, Virginia, and recently worked in Austin.

“Everybody at the management level chose to come to Waco, most from larger cities. It’s a pretty close-knit group,” Dawson said. “Honestly, I appreciated the opportunity to get out of the Austin traffic.”

With Waco’s tight labor market, hiring dragged during the first few weeks the employment sign appeared outside the construction site, Leslie said. But as the building has continued to take shape, interest has surged.

Waco’s restaurant reportedly is one of two nationwide being built according to the chain’s new styling, joining Daytona, Florida, in featuring the new prototype, P.F. Chang’s officials said during the local groundbreaking.

Spoetzl, Balcones collaboration

The makers of Shiner beer recently announced they will release a barrel-aged lager Oct. 1 that resulted from a collaboration with Waco’s Balcones Distilling, according to a press release. Spoetzl Brewery’s new limited edition Spoetzl Marzen is aged in barrels used to produce Balcones single malt.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Spoetzl Brewery’s team on this collaboration as it’s not every day that you find another brand that shares your dedication to quality, craftsmanship and flavor complexity,” Balcones head distiller Jared Himstedt wrote in the press release.

The beer will be sold in 750 milliliter bottles for $14.99, according to the press release.

“Tannins from whisky-soaked barrels naturally increase the clarity of the beer while also imparting a unique roundness and incredible color to the beer,” Spoetzl director of brewing Tom Fiorenzi said.

Restaurant roundup

  • Hat Creek Burger Co., which started as a food truck in Austin, continues its growth by opening a location this week on Woodway Drive, near the Regal Jewel Stadium 16 movie theater. In addition to burgers, Hat Creek offers fresh salads, grain burgers, gluten-free pickles and fries, gluten-free chicken flashers, and shakes, according to a company press release. The brand offers breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m., as well as lunch and dinner. The Waco location is hiring to fill about 40 positions.
  • Clay Pot, a Vietnamese restaurant at Fourth Street and Franklin Avenue, will host a Moon Festival celebration Sept. 24, during which it will serve an array of traditional dishes, “including the most sought after dessert in Vietnam, mooncakes and green tea,” according to a press release. Tickets are $50 for adults, $30 for children age 3 to 12. Visit for ordering details.
  • A new Smallcakes shop planned near the Bagby Avenue entrance to Central Texas Marketplace likely will open in the first week of November, co-owner Brandy Sandor said. The Salado resident said she and her husband have secured the Central Texas franchise for Smallcakes and have opened a shop in Temple. Smallcakes has 150 locations globally, Sandor said. She is collaborating with a Waco resident on the local venture.
  • Some count restrooms as a tell-tale sign for a business as a whole, especially restaurants. That in mind, it may be worth noting that Hoppenstein Properties has a building permit to enlarge the restrooms at Hecho En Waco, a Tex-Mex restaurant at 300 S. Sixth St., a short walk from Magnolia Market at the Silos.

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