The news vans have left Waco, but the images of bikers in cuffs, police “crime scene” tape and bullet holes in a strip mall restaurant have not. May’s infamous biker gang shootout was the deadliest event in Waco since 1993. One would expect that the city would be scrambling in the aftermath of the violent incident. But Kris Collins, a member of the Waco Chamber of Commerce, says that is not the case.
The shootout began when the bikers opened fire in Twin Peaks, a restaurant and sports bar that was in the middle of a strip mall. Collins says although the incident did occur in a public space, Waco’s economy has not suffered.
“Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, our economy has continued to grow and things are chugging along just as they had been before the incident,” she says. “The people in this area are really supportive of the business community that’s here, and I don’t think they’d let [the shooting] slow them down at all. I think that when you look at the most recent sales tax report that came out of the Texas Comptroller’s Office, that definitely resonated.”
Collins says some stores in the area saw an increase in business after the shootout.
“Anytime there’s an incident that happens in a community, there’s a level of curiosity that comes along,” she says. “That it happened to also be in a very public retail space actually gave some great visibility to some folks that had recently moved to the area.”
The restaurant where the shootout occurred has not recovered as successfully.
“The franchise was rejected. The local franchisee lost his franchise with the corporate entity, and they’ve removed all the signage off the building,” Collins says. “Quite frankly, if you didn’t know where the building was before, you probably wouldn’t recognize it.”
The shooting did lead to unfavorable press for Waco, but Collins says the city will recover.
“It was really unfortunate from a timing perspective that the incident happened in our community, because we have so many wonderful things going on. Baylor has been doing tremendous work, with the new stadium that they built. [There’s also] Chip and Joanna Gaines with Magnolia Homes and their HGTV show ‘Fixer Upper.’ You couldn’t pay enough money to get the great publicity out of that,” she says. “The fact that it happened was unfortunate. I think it was just a little bit of a bruise, but it’s definitely not gonna be a scar for us moving forward.”