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Mike Copeland: Chicken Salad Chick; Splendid Oaks Chocolate; Maker's Edge hanging on; Waco still flying

Mike Copeland: Chicken Salad Chick; Splendid Oaks Chocolate; Maker's Edge hanging on; Waco still flying

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In this 2016 photo, Maker’s Edge co-owner Melissa Pardun shows off a CNC router, a computer-controlled machine that can carve intricate patterns. The business is making new plans to stay open after subdued traffic during the pandemic pushed the owners to consider closing.

Austin Young, originally from South Georgia, is opening a Chicken Salad Chick restaurant at 1509 Hewitt Drive. It probably will open late next month, according to an H&A Commercial blog post.

“We are not greasy fried chicken, chicken fingers or chicken sandwiches,” Young said in the Q&A. “We are chicken salad. We have an awesome selection of 12 different chicken salads for our guests to choose from.”

Chicken Salad Chick, which is remodeling the former Hagan’s Handcrafted burger restaurant’s space on Hewitt Drive, offers four flavor profiles: savory, fruity/nutty, spicy and traditional. They include the Classic Carol, the Jalapeno Holly and the Sassy Scotty, “a zesty blend of ranch, bacon and shredded cheddar cheese,” according to the post.

The concept had its beginnings in the kitchen of an Alabama woman, Stacy Brown, who prepared dishes for family and friends. She delivered her chicken salad to teachers’ lounges and hair salons before selling door-to-door, according to background material on the company website.

Under the leadership of CEO Scott Deviney, Chicken Salad Chick has spread to 166 locations in 17 states, the backgrounder adds.

The local restaurant will employ about 50 people, and Young hopes to open a second store in Waco and others in Temple and Killeen.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

A growing chain called L&L Hawaiian Barbecue has staked a claim on the former Pie Peddlers space in Mary Avenue Market downtown.

Pie Peddlers, among the original tenants, chose to relinquish the space, now being renovated by local L&L Hawaiian Barbecue representatives.

A building permit has been secured from the city of Waco.

Splendid Oaks Chocolates opening

Chicagoan Kevin DeVries, who studied entrepreneurship at Baylor University, is applying his training and sweet tooth to opening a chocolate shop.

His Splendid Oaks Chocolates is taking space at 1020 Franklin Ave., in the building also housing the Milo All Day restaurant.

“We are hoping to have our grand opening on the first Friday of October,” DeVries said by email.

The nearby presence of Balcones Distilling, Milo All Day, Waco Cha and Alpha Omega makes the neighborhood appealing, he said.

“I have been involved in collaborations with Balcones in the past and hope to continue those in the future,” DeVries said. “I am also hopeful about partnering with (Milo) on some desserts to serve at the restaurant.”

Chocolates produced at Splendid Oaks Chocolates are handmade with premium ingredients to make the best fillings possible, he said. The most popular flavors are apple pie and the whiskey, he said.

“We are going to have our assorted chocolates and serve ice cream as well,” DeVries said. “There will be 27 flavors of ice cream from the start, and I am still working on some flavors, but soon there will be 32 chocolates. I am not sure we’ll have all of those ready for the grand opening, though.”

Customers can view the candymaking process through a store window.

DeVries said he “absolutely loved” the entrepreneurship program at Baylor.

“I started teaching myself to work with chocolate after graduating,” he said. “I was making some I considered good, but they really reached another level when I was able to learn from some of the world’s elite chocolatiers. I was lucky to get that opportunity, and now the chocolates are unbelievable.”

Route 77 Food Park open

David Mercer has opened his long-awaited Route 77 Food Park at 1425 La Salle Ave.

“Eat, drink, visit,” is the bill of fare, according to the park’s website.

The space “features 6 different local food trucks, an open air pavilion, fenced-in play area, yard games and climate controlled seating so that the park can be enjoyed year round,” according to the website.

It also will sport a craft beer bar, with management selecting “only local pours on tap that you can’t find anywhere else.” Distancing requirements related to COVID-19 may delay opening of the bar area, however.

Also to be served are hard seltzers, wine and craft colas.

The lineup of food trucks now includes Taquisa Waco, which will offer street tacos; Triple B’s Smokehouse, serving brisket, pork sliders and sausage wraps; Between the Bunz, specializing in handcrafted burgers; and Oakley’s Rustic Grill, “serving everything from fried boudin to shrimp baskets.”

A rotating spot is available to trucks wanting to stay at the park less than six months, and applications are being accepted for the last full-time spot.

Maker’s Edge cutting path forward

Maker’s Edge Makerspace, 1800 Austin Ave., had announced it would close to the public in mid-August, ending its run as a venue for artists, entrepreneurs and “makers” needing space and tools to tackle projects.

But Maker’s Edge lives, co-owner Rick Pardun confirmed Friday. It has hired at an “imaginator” who will lead tours, keep the place uncluttered, administer tool competency tests and videotape training sessions.

Pardun said Maker’s Edge has suffered mightily during the pandemic, its member count falling dramatically. But news the place would close caused uneasiness among clients, a few of whom assured Pardun and his wife and co-founder, Melissa Pardun, they would pursue an ownership group with the financial wherewithal to put Make’s Edge on better footing.

As that process unfolds, Maker’s Edge will continue to operate. Its website says it makes available wood and metal shops, a computer lab, a fine arts studio, a digital fabrication lab and a textile lab. Users pay a monthly fee to use its services and tools, prices ranging from $80 for hobbyists to $60 for students and $125 for unlimited use of the facilities.

Flights in Waco

COVID-19 has buffeted the airline industry, which has responded with layoffs and service curtailments. American Eagle, which provides commuter service between Waco and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, saw its daily flight tally drop from six to one, as passengers stayed away in droves.

But Waco Regional Airport manager Joel Martinez said last week Eagle now flies three times daily between Waco and D-FW. He said he has received no indication Eagle plans to drop Waco from the list of markets it serves.

“It will take time to get ridership back up,” Martinez said. “They have not indicated we should be concerned. I think they’re committed to Waco.”

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