This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 25, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
Denny’s may open a Peñitas location in March.
Construction on the roughly 4,400-square-foot restaurant started Monday at the northwest corner of U.S. 83 and Liberty Boulevard. McAllen-based Bramble Restaurants Ltd. will own and operate the Denny’s.
“Peñitas shows a lot of potential for growth,” said restaurateur David Bramble, who owns Denny’s locations in Harlingen, Weslaco, San Juan and Edinburg. “And the Valley seems to be growing in that direction.”
Bramble Restaurants opened an identical Denny’s in San Juan last month.
The 4,411-square-foot restaurant in San Juan had an estimated cost of $750,000, according to information filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in January.
Denny’s credits the new restaurant design, which seats about 150 people, and a new menu with boosting same-store sales.
“We plan on employing at least 50 permanent employees,” Bramble said.
The Denny’s may kick-start restaurant and retail development in Peñitas.
“The great thing about restaurants is when one opens, others follow,” said Peñitas City Manager Omar Romero.
Infrastructure projects supported by Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Flores, including the Liberty Boulevard project, the Mile 3 Road project and the La Joya bypass, positioned the city for development, Romero said. The City Council also worked closely with local landowners to court business prospects.
“We’ve been waiting on the return on the investment a long time,” Romero said. “And we feel that it’s going to increase the quality of life in our area.”
Denny’s isn’t the only project underway in Peñitas.
“We have the skilled nursing facility that’s already under construction,” Romero said. “We have a few other projects that we obviously can’t disclose right now but are major projects that are going to be a big economic boon to the city.”
Bramble purchased the Denny’s property from Mil Encinos Development Ltd., a company controlled by the Bell family, a major landowner in Peñitas.
John Womack — the son-in-law of family patriarch Gerald “Jerry” Bell, who died in July — said the Denny’s deal, which had been in the works for years, moved quickly during the past week.
Bramble closed on the property Oct. 18, Womack said.
Construction started Monday.
The City Council is working closely with the Bell family and Hidalgo County to spur development, said Mayor Rodrigo “Rigo” Lopez.
“Peñitas sits in an area where we’re right off the expressway and there’s about 800 acres of land that’s waiting to be developed,” Lopez said. “And the Bells have always been part of our vision to grow.”
Denny’s may prompt other restaurants to consider Peñitas locations, Lopez said. The restaurants may attract retailers, which would boost the city’s property tax and sales tax revenue.
“The residents and the Council have been waiting for this type of development to come to the city,” Lopez said. “And it’s a great time to be part of the city of Peñitas.”