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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New businesses flocking to Aggieland despite economic uncertainties amid pandemic

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Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

Burger Mojo was one of several new businesses in the Bryan-College Station area to expand its reach during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Between COVID-19, supply chain issues and rising labor costs and inflation, the past few years have been anything but welcoming to those hoping to start up, or expand, businesses; this, however, has not stopped new establishments from making their way to the area. 

In November alone, the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce conducted 18 ribbon-cutting ceremonies for both new and expanding businesses. The new businesses range from local fast-food chains, such as a new Burger Mojo location in Frost Bank Center on Briarcrest Drive, to large corporate locations like Starbucks and Chipotle soon to be opened on Wellborn Road, as well as the recently opened Brookshire Brothers which came to College Station in April. 

Costa Dallis, CEO of Mojo Concepts LLC, said he is very excited to be opening a new Burger Mojo location in the summer of 2022. 

“We feel very happy and lucky to be able to open three Burger Mojos during a pandemic. [Because of] the fact that this one is going to be closer to Blinn [College] and Bryan High [School], I think we’re going to hit a little bit [of a] different demographic,” Dallis said.

Burger Mojo was not expecting to expand, but when the new opportunity presented itself, Dallis said the company jumped on it.

“We found out about a space that was gonna be available. We weren’t actually seeking that property out; it kind of found us,” Dallis said. 

The unique circumstances of the past year, however, have influenced plans for the new location, Dallis said.

“It has affected the way in which we approached it … we’re branching out and sourcing things from multiple and more creative sources than we did before,” Dallis said. 

In addition, Dallis said he doesn’t believe a worker shortage will affect the new location by the time it opens.

“Our business model is not reliant upon a ton of people in the building. It’s a pretty efficient model, so it’s definitely not slowing us down or giving us any heartburn,” Dallis said.

Zeitman’s Grocery Store, a new family-owned store located at 220 N. Main St. in Bryan, is also excited to finally open its doors to the public, owner Blake Zeitman said.

“The original Zeitman’s Grocery Store opened in 1891 in Portland, Maine,” Zeitman said. “We’re unique in the sense that we are small. We try to source local ingredients and local products.” 

These unprecedented times have presented some challenges, including an increase in costs, Zeitman said. 

“We ended up going double budget for our build out because of the cost of materials and time and labor,” Zeitman said. 

Filling store shelves has also remained difficult given the current supply chain issues, Zeitman said. 

“Normal, everyday products, like cups, ham, white cheddar cheese and just random stuff you’d never thought of … it’s just stuff that you can’t find,” Zeitman said. 

A possible cream cheese shortage may also affect the grocery store in a unique way, Zeitman said.

“We also bake our own bagels in a traditional way. They are definitely not like any other bagels in town,” Zeitman said. “There was an article in the New York Times the other day about a shortage of cream cheese in New York, and I’m hoping that doesn’t happen down here. But if it’s happening up there, it could very well happen down here.”

Luckly, Zeitman said local connections have allowed him to focus more on the cream cheese supply and less on worrying about finding reliable employees.

“I’ve been here off and on since 2007, and I’ve been here permanently since 2013,” Zeitman said. “So, I know quite a few people and haven’t had too much issue finding people to work, but there’s still obviously gaps that need to be filled.”

The new Chipotle restaurant on Wellborn Road is also looking to entice new employees by offering full benefits and even tuition assistance, according to the company’s website

This location will also be home to a new Starbucks, meaning the already-busy intersection of Wellborn and Southwest Parkway may become more crowded. 

Industrial distribution senior Tommy Suarez, who lives near the new Chipotle and Starbucks locations, said he is excited about the convenience and isn’t too worried about traffic. 

“I think that the traffic is mostly going to be on Wellborn, so it will mostly stay out from where I actually travel to get in and out of the neighborhood,” Suarez said. “They are just so much closer than anything else would be that I barely have to get out of my neighborhood.” 
Several other businesses are also slated to be opened in 2022, including a Costco on Midtown Drive, a Chill Milkshakes and Waffle Bar in the Harvey Washbanger’s strip center, C&J Barbeque on Briargate Drive and many more. A full list of upcoming and rumored restaurants and businesses can be found on the TexAgs website.

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