Breckenridge Texan

BEDC bringing new restaurant to downtown Breckenridge, working on other plans for community

BEDC bringing new restaurant to downtown Breckenridge, working on other plans for community
April 04
14:01 2024

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge will soon have a new restaurant in downtown after the City Commission approved a deal between the Breckenridge Economic Development Corp. and Jonathan and Neri Gonzalez, who own Neri’s on the Square in Graham.

David Miller, executive director of the BEDC, confirmed this morning that the restaurant owners have accepted the offer to renovate and put a kitchen into the building at 223 W. Walker St., known locally as “the old Bealls building.” The Bealls clothing store closed in 2017, and the building has been vacant since then.

Neri Gonzalez is a trained chef, having attended The Culinary School of Fort Worth, and has owned the Graham restaurant for 14 years. In 2017, the couple opened up a second restaurant in Jacksboro.

Miller said the BEDC has been looking for the right business to move into the location. “We’ve put in a lot of work to get this piece back up to the standard where we want our downtown to be and take an eyesore and then turn it into something really exciting for downtown,” he said at the City meeting on Tuesday, April 2. “One of the great privileges the EDC has is that we get to kind of recruit a business to go in somewhere, rather than just see what we can get.”

After finalizing the deal on Wednesday, Miller announced on Thursday morning that the Gonzalezes will be starting on the new restaurant soon.

“We’re really excited to have her expertise come in as a part of that puzzle here,” he said Thursday. “So that puts the Bealls building back on the property tax rolls; it gets a business in there. We actually still lose millions of dollars a year just to people eating out in other communities. And so the hope is to recapture some of those sales tax dollars here and provide a fun atmosphere. That building comes with a 6,000-square-foot patio area next door to it, where we can put in a door for an outdoor patio seating area. That’s huge. That’s really placemaking for downtown. It’s one of the things we’re focused on.”

The Breckenridge Economic Development Corp. has made a deal with Jonathan and Neri Gonzalez, restaurant owners in Graham, to install a kitchen and open a new restaurant in the building at 223 W. Walker St., locally known as the old Bealls building. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

At the  April 2 City Commission meeting, Miller explained to the commissioners that the Gonzalezes will take out a small business loan through the BEDC and after they repay that loan, the BEDC is going to give them the building and the lot next door. According to the meeting’s agenda, the BEDC has offered a $250,000 small business loan out of its restricted-use USDA Small Business Fund for the conversion and remodelling of the building as a restaurant. The BEDC will maintain a Deed of Trust for 60 months when the note is called or until the note is paid, whichever occurs first. The BEDC had purchased the property, made several improvements and has approximately $300,000 invested in it, according to the agenda notes.

At this morning’s Coffee and Connections monthly networking event for local businesses, hosted by the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce and Texas State Technical College, Miller said that in its goal to encourage economic development in Breckenridge, the BEDC has two main focuses — housing and general economic development — both of which will help to entice more businesses to move to Breckenridge.

“We need to make sure we’re creating a place where people want to live,” he said. “So that’s where the downtown comes in…we’re trying to recruit more of the fun things.”

Another downtown project that Miller talked about at the City Commission meeting and at the Thursday morning get-together is a proposal by a group of Breckenridge High School students to convert the vacant space east of the old Bealls building into a community space. The project, which was approved by the City Commission on Tuesday, is part of the annual Texas Midwest Community Network’s leadership program.

Each year, a group of students works on a community project to compete for scholarships. This year, the plan is to renovate the lot at 217 W. Walker St., that was left empty after a fire years ago, into a usable area that includes seating, shade, lighting, a new mural and entertainment features. Miller said the BEDC will provide $8,500 to the project, as well as a $12,000 matching grant. The students will be asking local citizens and businesses to contribute to the project.

One part of the students’ plan is to install a fence and gate across the front of the space, so that the children of families who use the area will be safe and won’t be able to run out into the street.

“After all is said and done, we’re looking at probably about a $40,000 investment into that space to really create a place for shoppers to take a break, for family and friends to have a place to get together and hang out,” Miller said.

A third area of focus for the BEDC is developing the area around Hubbard Creek Lake, Miller told the crowd gathered at the Chamber event on Thursday morning.

“We feel like Breckenridge is tied to that lake and any great improvements to the lake are going to be a great boost to this economy here,” he said. “So even if it’s second homes out there, just nice housing at the lake increases the property tax base, which goes to lower rates for everybody.”

Additionally, the BEDC is still offering its facade grant program for Breckenridge businesses. The program offers up to $5,000 in a matching grant to any business inside the city limits of Breckenridge to update or upgrade their business’ facade, excluding signage, Miller said. The BEDC also is offering up to $3,000 in matching funds for new murals in town. For the specifics of that program, contact Miller at the BEDC, 254-559-6228.


Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge Economic Development Corp. Executive Director David Miller talks to the City Commission about plans to bring a new restaurant to downtown Breckenridge. At their April 2 meeting, the commissioners approved the BEDC’s request to offer an incentive to the restaurant owners. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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