Call it bad timing, bad memories or bad business. Whatever the cause, the Scotty’s Brewhouse sports bar that opened in March in the former Twin Peaks building in Waco will close by year’s end, a casualty of poor performance.
Court documents show Indiana-based Scotty’s Brewhouse and Scotty’s Thr3E Wise Men Brewing have filed this week for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that allows the company to operate while trying to pay off creditors.
Those same documents say Scotty’s Brewhouse will close Indiana restaurants in Carmel, Muncie and Indianapolis, as well as in Waco. The company website shows Scotty’s operates 20 locations, most of them in the Midwest. The Waco location represented its first investment in Texas.
“The process we have initiated today will allow us the opportunity to emerge stronger and better position the company for growth,” said Chris Martin, brand president, in a news release. “We will close locations that are not profitable by the end of the year.”
Local management declined to comment, referring questions to corporate headquarters, which had not responded by Wednesday evening.
The first Scotty’s Brewhouse, which opened in 1996 in Muncie, Indiana, is among those scheduled to be shuttered, the company reported.
A bloody shootout in May 2015 left nine motorcycle bikers dead at the former Twin Peaks sports bar at Central Texas Marketplace. Nearly 180 bikers were originally charged with engaging in criminal activity, though most charges later were reduced or dropped entirely as cases made their way through the McLennan County criminal justice system. Some suggest public outcry over District Attorney Abel Reyna’s handling of the Twin Peaks episode contributed to the two-term incumbent’s primary election loss to Barry Johnson earlier this year.
Twin Peaks opened in August 2014 at the marketplace, the sprawling center at Interstate 35, West Loop 340 and Bagby Avenue. The more than 7,000-square-foot club, built to resemble a hunting lodge, quickly became a popular hangout and watering hole, with local beer distributors reporting it had become among the largest local buyers of wholesale product.
After the shootout, Texas-based Twin Peaks yanked the license of the franchisee and said it could no longer operate in Waco. Real estate agents, most from outside Waco, tried their hand at marketing the building, much of which was wrapped in plastic for more than a year.
Scotty’s Brewhouse confirmed last year it had secured use of the building, though it would not comment on whether it was leasing or buying. It received a building permit to renovate the place. The permit placed the estimated cost of improvements at $250,000, though that figure, like many preliminary estimates on commercial products, may not reflect all costs associated with the transformation, said K. Paul Holt, president of the local office of the Associated General Contractors of America.
Whatever the case, Scotty’s Brewhouse opened in March to the curious and the thirsty. Now, fewer than nine months later, it confirms it is closing.
Kyle Citrano, managing partner of George’s Restaurant & Bar No. 2 and longtime president of the Waco Restaurant Association, said he was disappointed to hear of Scotty’s demise, but not necessarily surprised.
“I literally just got a couple of text messages telling me the news,” he said Wednesday. “Really, I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been there, so what I would say is conjecture, and would be based on what I’ve heard from other people. I do not want to be saying anything bad about the place, but honestly, others did not have much good to say about it.”
He said Scotty’s Brewhouse represented a new name in the Texas market, and he’s not sure Waco ever warmed to what it had to offer. He added the local restaurant and club scene is becoming more competitive, and new arrivals must fight to create for themselves a niche, particularly if they do not arrive with a known concept, either locally or regionally, as was Scotty’s case.
“Nobody knew who Scotty’s was. This was their first location in Texas,” he said. “Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar, which opened this year, is new to Waco, but had a presence in Louisiana. Remember when Quaker Steak & Lube opened in Waco, in the building that became Heitmiller’s second location and now is home to Los Cucos. They are big in the Northeast, but they did not do very well here. No one was familiar with Quaker Steak & Lube.”
Other recent arrivals, said Citrano, include “proven winners” such as P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and La Madeleine French Bakery and Cafe, which ironically opened in Central Texas Marketplace this month.
Raynor Campbell, a commercial real estate agent locally, said the next user of the former Twin Peaks space needs to drastically change its appearance.
“What I heard from people is that it was like walking into Twin Peaks,” he said. “I think if someone wants to make a success of the place, major changes are needed. It should not look like what it was. But I believe someone will give it another chance. Central Texas Marketplace has a lot going for it: It is the hub of Central Texas, with a lot of great retailers, a lot of traffic.
“I don’t think the building will remain vacant long,” he added.