WACO, TX — Baylor students are back in town this week and that means more business for restaurants in the area. One of those students is encouraging his classmates to eat locally, especially after many small businesses struggled during the pandemic.
"I just want to get as many people as I can to give these smaller places a chance," said Jackson Woodruff, one sophomore studying communications.
Some may even know Woodruff as "Woody the Wanderer", from his Instagram account where he posts pictures of his meals at mom-and-pop restaurants and writes about his experience.
"People love seeing pictures of the food and they know, by now, that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to tasty places to go," Woodruff said.
From a family of small business owners, he knows the importance of supporting local restaurants. Now, he's encouraging others to do the same.
"I'd much rather put the money in the pocket of some mom or dad than in the pocket of some corporate dude who's buying his third yacht this year," Woodruff said.
Those local businesses in Waco are excited to see Baylor students back this week after a summer away.
"We are very much impacted by Baylor," said Deborah Tinsley Humphreys, co-owner of Health Camp on Circle Road. "We started seeing families come in on Wednesday and they just continued, and we always enjoy seeing their smiling faces."
They hope, like Woodruff, that students take the time to explore some of the hidden gems of the city.
"I think supporting Waco locally, especially right now, is super awesome because we're growing and it's gonna be a changing city and I'm super excited for it," said Mary Benjamin, operations manager at Route 77 Food Park & Bar.
And even though Jackson admits to eating out a little too much at times, he's looking forward to spending three more years of school getting to know the taste of Waco.