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Mike Copeland: Camp Fimfo Waco; Hawaiian Bros. Island Grill; Hotel hopes; Hello Bello permit

Mike Copeland: Camp Fimfo Waco; Hawaiian Bros. Island Grill; Hotel hopes; Hello Bello permit

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A photo from July shows work on the site along Lake Shore Drive that is slated to open as a Camp Fimfo campground in the spring.

Waco is getting a Camp Fimfo, the second such venue built in Texas by Northgate Resorts, the other in New Braunfels opening earlier this year.

“In addition to more than 300 cabins and RV sites across 100 acres, the new property includes mainstays of the Camp Fimfo brand: a waterpark, mini golf-course, bike rentals, and even alternative glamping options will be available by the opening, with more features to follow,” a press release says.

Glamping, by the way, means glamorous camping. Yours truly looked it up.

Land clearing near North 19th Street and Lake Shore Drive has been underway quite some time, and Northgate Resorts received the city’s zoning and permission to place a campground along the Bosque River downstream of the Lake Waco dam. But Northgate had remained tight-lipped about what exactly it was putting there.

But with the press release, Northgate has broken its silence. It says the fledgling Camp Fimfo brand brings a “boutique camping experience to travelers,” and that Waco’s will build on the momentum of the New Braunfels site.

“This new camping experience responds to shifts in outdoor travel and experience that predate the pandemic, but that are in even more demand now as Americans clamor to be outside,” Northgate’s Tessa McCrackin said in the press release.

An opening is expected by the spring.

“The Camp Fimfo experience evokes nostalgia for summer camp and family road trips with the modern embrace of Instagrammable moments and quirky, playful messaging throughout the concept,” the press release says. “The mascot, a squirrel, weaves its way into the experience, with hidden acorns for children to find, redeemable for prizes. It’s just one of the many ways Camp Fimfo elevates the traditional camping experience to a more boutique one.”

Northgate also has secured a $2.8 million permit to place a general store on North 19th Street.

Hawaiian Bros. Island Grill

The former Taco Cabana building at Sixth Street and Cleveland Avenue will get a complete remodel and a new tenant: Hawaiian Bros. Island Grill, a chain growing in popularity and locations, said a source familiar with the deal.

Hawaiian Bros. has a menu most fowl, featuring Honolulu Chicken, Molokai Chicken, Huli Huli Chicken and Kilauea Chicken. Items lower in the pecking order are Luau Pig, Spam Musubi and Pacific Island Salad.

“Each restaurant features a striking design and island vibe with a kitchen void of freezers, fryers and microwaves. Food is prepared fresh daily,” said trade magazine QSR in a piece on Hawaiian Bros.’ foray into Texas.

Neighborly hire

Neighborly, which franchises nearly 30 service-branded companies from its Waco headquarters, has hired Brian Woods to serve as group vice president of franchise development, the company announced in a press release.

The former investment banker will oversee efforts to recruit franchisees for Mr. Rooter Plumbing, Mr. Electric, Mr. Appliance, Aire Serv and Dryer Vent Wizard. These brands fall into Neighborly’s “repair” category.

“Given the significant impact franchising makes on the continued growth of Neighborly’s global portfolio, we are thrilled to welcome a skilled executive like Brian to elevate our ongoing expansion efforts,” said Brad Stevenson, Neighborly chief development officer and Woods’ boss.

Woods began his career on Wall Street as an investment banker working in the food and agribusiness and media and telecommunications sectors before moving into executive positions with PepsiCo and Frito-Lay. He transitioned to corporate strategy at AT&T and then to target growth markets and diversity franchise recruitment at Motel 6, according to the press release.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from the University of Michigan, and an MBA in finance from the University of Texas.

Hotel hopes

Tree huggers invaded downtown Thursday and Friday, arriving in force to attend the 41st annual Texas Tree Conference in the Waco Convention Center. The Tribune-Herald on Saturday ran a front-page profile of the gathering.

Nearly 600 attended from around the state and beyond, including arborists, landscapers, tree trimmers, representatives of municipal parks and recreation departments, and experts in tree growth and disease diagnosis and treatment. They filled room blocks in the Waco Hilton and Courtyard by Marriott, a hopeful sign of things to come for the local lodging industry.

Carla Pendergraft, who markets convention activities, said Waco no doubt has grown on Texas Tree Conference. The green-thumbers met here 10 years, having growth rings to prove it, and signed up for three more.

With COVID-19 lurking, conference organizers informed attendees of steps taken to protect them. An information packet assured that masks would be plentiful, meeting areas would be professionally disinfected daily, and food service would meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directives.

Waco’s convention facilities received a plug, organizers noting in the information packet that they feature an Advanced Dedicated Outdoor Air System “that brings fresh outside air into meeting spaces.”

Hello Bello permit

Hello Bello, a diaper-making company founded by Hollywood actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, has secured a permit to renovate the interior of 2101 Texas Central Parkway. Los Angeles-based Unconditional Love Inc., which operates as Hello Bello, signed a lease on the 303,000-square-foot building, and vowed to create 110 jobs there paying at least $15 an hour.

For that promise it received a $2.5 million economic development grant from Waco and McLennan County, which also tossed in tax breaks contingent upon Unconditional Love Inc. creating a sales office in Waco.

Hello Bello specializes in environmentally friendly products for babies and toddlers. It sells online and to select big-box retailers.

Its site in Waco once was used by diaper-maker Domtar Personal Care.

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