The Magnolia Silos, Magnolia Table and now Magnolia Press attract tourists to Waco and help to boost the city’s growing economy. Unfortunately, the influx of consumers and booming businesses is limited to only certain sections of the Waco community.
The East Side, specifically businesses and properties along the historic Elm Avenue, is one of those parts of Waco that the Magnolia effect has barely touched. So much so, that in 2018 a movement to revitalize the once thriving Elm Avenue began and in reaction some newer establishments have grown.
Baylor students should join these efforts. Baylor is a good chunk of the Waco population and most students barely leave a five block radius of campus, unless they are driving home for the weekend.
One of the most popular hotspots for students and Waco residents alike is Lula Jane’s, located at 406 Elm Avenue. Although Lula Jane’s is not a new establishment to the Waco community — it’s actually a major staple and one of the most popular restaurants. It was probably one of the only reasons many students stepped outside of their Baylor bubble until recently.
Across the avenue from the Waco Fire Station, a new restaurant sprouted from the foundation of the former Waco Community Baptist Church that had been abandoned for years. Revival Eastside Eatery located at 704 Elm Avenue had their soft opening this summer, takes Waco’s period of revitalization literally and seriously.
Smaller businesses, like Lula Jane’s and Revival Eastside Eatery, that focus on good food and good relationships with their customers will help push the east side of Waco into a better economy.
But these businesses cannot and should not rely on just tourists. Tourists come and go. Baylor students stay for three to four years at the very least and can help grow the Waco community while they are living here. Some even find jobs and take up residence here after falling in love with the community.
Although this movement of up and coming businesses and health food restaurants in the East side could be viewed as gentrification, these restaurants are just the start. As economic growth continues to spread outside the Magnolia dynasty, more and more businesses ranging in price ranges and target customers will open up all throughout the city.
We, as Baylor students, should help let the city know we care and that businesses that open up along Elm Avenue or any other part of the city not touched by tourists will succeed.
By helping build the community outside of a five minute from campus, the entire city can flourish more.