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Mike Copeland: Barbecue accolades; Halloween movies; Antiques and ax throwing; Advanced Rail Systems

Mike Copeland: Barbecue accolades; Halloween movies; Antiques and ax throwing; Advanced Rail Systems


Reid Guess and Gene Vinnykov, partners in Guess Barbecue, will make a special delivery this weekend, to the Formula 1 Aramco US Grand Prix in Austin, an event that up to 360,000 people may attend.

Vinnykov said the Guess team was delighted and honored to receive the invitation. Guess will join other concessionaires in an area designated for food service at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

But anyone planning a stop at Waco’s Guess, 2803 Franklin Ave., should not worry about who his staffing the store. Guess is recruiting barbecuing veterans in Austin he worked with back in the day to assist with his Formula 1 assignment. Waco remains in good hands, Vinnykov said.

It has been a rewarding stretch for Guess Family Barbecue, recently included in Texas Monthly magazine’s ranking of the top 50 barbecue joints statewide. It also landed on the magazine’s top 25 new barbecue joints published in 2019.

Helberg Barbecue, another local favorite, also made Texas Monthly’s smoke-ring of honor this year, joining Guess in stepping up from the 2019 newcomer list. Helberg now occupies its own place on North State Highway 6 in Speegleville, having made its bones in a food truck parked beside the Pinewood Roasters coffee shop at 2223 Austin Ave.

Here’s a sampling of what the magazine said about Helberg, owned by Phillip and Yvette Helberg: “We ordered the Quarterback mixed-meat place, and while the brisket was beautiful, we found ourselves focused on the pork steak, the smoked chicken (also fried for extra-crispy skin), and the toothsome sausages. The highlights among the side dishes were the smoke-cheddar-and-Gouda mac and cheese and the collard greens.

“A family-recipe banana pudding was decadently creamy — we would have gone back for more if we hadn’t already stuffed ourselves silly.”

Gas prices

News from the gas pump continues to depress, as AAA Texas reported Thursday the statewide average for regular unleaded moved above $3 for the first time since October 2014. It settled at $3.02 during the preceding week, 9 cents more than the previous week, $1.15 more than a year ago.

“Gas prices may continue to rise as demand for fuel products has been robust and there continues to be supply chain disruptions like with many other industries,” AAA spokesperson Daniel Armbruster in a press release.

All 27 metropolitan areas surveyed by AAA experienced jumps at the pump, and Waco’s norm moved from $2.86 to $2.95 week-to-week, according to the report.

Cinemark Halloween

Cinemark, the new kid in town, continues to pursue friends in the Waco market, hoping to fill its 14-screen complex on Interstate 35 near New Road. It is offering Halloween Private Watch Parties on Oct. 31, with moviegoers invited to rent an entire auditorium for as little as $99. That’s according to a press release.

The price includes tickets for up to 30 people to view one film and may vary slightly, depending on showtime and movie selection, spokesperson Julia McCartha said in an email response to questions. There are no minimum concession purchases required, McCartha said.

Her note says the $99 charge reflects at least a $100 savings.

Antique shop next to ax throwing

Stumpy’s Hatchet House, an ax-throwing venue at 924 Austin Ave., has a new neighbor. Visitors to the neighborhood should have no trouble distinguishing the two.

European antiques are the specialty of Shelley Gay and Par Bennstrom, who this weekend unveiled Olive Door Imports. The shop will open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, close Sunday and meet guests by appointment only on Monday, spokesperson Lauren Anz said.

New bank branch

Alliance Bank Central Texas, headquartered in Woodway, has moved into the Bell County market by opening a location in Temple.

Alliance Bank was established in 2007, is independently owned by more than 200 shareholders, and is operated by a local board. It launched with $35 million in assets, which have grown to $447 million, according to a press release. It has locations in Waco, Jewett, Donie and now Temple, where operations will be overseen by Temple native Tyler Johnson, Alliance announced.

Advanced Rail Systems move

The area between Riesel, population 1,007, and Hallsburg, about half the size, now is home to a world headquarters. Advanced Rail Systems recently dedicated a warehouse and corporate office on Highway 164 near where it splits from Highway 6. Attendees included U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Advanced Rail Systems serves a niche market, supplying switching devices to railway yards and terminals in the United States, Mexico and South America, spokesperson Taylor Beaman said. Beaman said the plant employs 25, hiring primarily in the Marlin, Mart and Waco areas, but she expects to see payroll grow significantly the next two years.

Advanced Rail Systems maintains sales and support staffers in Texas and The Netherlands and has annual revenue of $8 million.

Beaman said former President Donald Trump sent a congratulatory letter to the Advanced Rail Systems team. She said developing the site was made possible, in part, by its designation as an Opportunity Zone under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that supports investment in low-income areas.

Beaman said company was founded six years ago. Its previous location was “a 70-acre cow pasture in Stranger,” an unincorporated Falls County community.

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