As COVID-19 restrictions lift and the economy rebounds, new businesses are coming to the Bryan-College Station area.
College Station lost a number of businesses to the pandemic, but the city’s economic development team and business owners said they are optimistic about reopening this year. Vacant locations are being backfilled by new restaurants, retailers and grocery stores, which city staff said could be of interest for Texas A&M students as customers or potential employees.
Many of these developments were being negotiated with the city government before 2020, Stacey Vasquez, the city’s economic development coordinator, said.
“When the pandemic hit, everything got put on hold,” Vasquez said. “But now, we’re getting calls saying, ‘We’re interested; we’re ready.’”
The popular Dutch Bros Coffee is opening at least three other locations in the city after seeing great success on Wellborn Road, Vasquez said, which opened as the company’s first Texas location on Jan. 5, 2021. One new location, opening soon, is being built next to Baylor Scott and White Medical Center on Earl Rudder Freeway.
A number of the businesses arriving are along University Drive close to campus, economic development manager Aubrey Nettles said on the May 24 episode of the city’s All Up In Your Business podcast.
Recently-opened stores include restaurants such as Five Guys at Chimney Hill and jewelry stores such as Kendra Scott at Century Square. Upcoming shops include a 5.11 Tactical, opening June 26 at Gateway Station Shopping Center, and Insomnia Cookies, which will offer deliveries as late as 3 a.m., Vasquez said.
“I think it will be a big hit with students,” Vasquez said. “If anybody wants some late night cookies, they can go there or have them delivered, which is awesome.”
As South College Station continues to grow residentially, new entertainment options for both students and families are a priority for city staff, Vasquez said.
Recently-announced is a mini-golf course, Kraken’s Revenge, and a rock-climbing and fitness facility, Stone Co. Climbing. City staff are working to bring in other attractions, Vasquez said.
For those who live in midtown, Costco Wholesale announced in April a new facility would be built along Earl Rudder Freeway.
“That was a great win for College Station,” Vasquez said. “The city had been working on getting Costco here for several years. It will also be a great opportunity for students in terms of employment.”
The city has been at work on other initiatives as well — everything from bringing in new industries for residents to a “brunch crawl,” Vasquez said.
“We have so many great brunch options here, it was kind of a joke around here that since we’re getting two new ones, maybe we should have a brunch crawl and just go from one place to another,” Vasquez said.
The two new brunch restaurants are The Toasted Yolk Café and Snooze A.M. Eatery. Snooze will open later this summer and has begun the hiring process, Snooze account executive Lily Stearns said.
“[It] could be a great opportunity for students to get involved in a growing business that celebrates authenticity, sustainability, community outreach and of course, exceptional breakfast,” Stearns said.
This business boom will allow the city to pay back into the local economy, public communications director Jay Socol said on All Up In Your Business. The sales tax generation report for March 2021 saw a net of $3.2 million, which was 44.2 percent higher than March 2020 and 33.3 percent higher than the sales taxes received in March of 2019.
“We have several companies coming here that would be looking for more degreed individuals too,” Vasquez said. “Matica, in the Providence Park center, broke ground a few months ago and they are bringing 100 new jobs to the city. That’s another side that we are looking at, bringing in new industries interested in coming here.
“We want to create businesses here that increase available careers for people and increase the average salary in College Station.”