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Baylor entrepreneurs hope 'game changing' development gives them an important business boost

Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 19:38:44-04

WACO, TX — A fledgling company has placed its bets for its future on a "game changing" Waco development.

It now plans to use that location as it's "launchpad to success."

"Growing up in Waco, we always craved late night donuts but we could not find a hot, fresh donut anywhere," said Eric and Jackson Wren in one of their early donut videos.

So, the Baylor students embarked on a mission to learn from the best and make the best.

Their "Nightlight" donuts proved a hit in their hometown.

Two-and-a-half years after starting in their parents' kitchen, then graduating to a donut trailer, the Wrens will soon move to brick and mortar at Waco's newest upscale shopping center where highways 6 and 84 meet.

"We thought originally that our main customer was going to be Baylor students and that's a big portion of it. We've also found a lot of our customers or young families. So we wanted to be kind of what I consider to be the border of Waco and Woodway to be able to be the best of both worlds," explained Jackson Wren.

It also put Nightlight Donuts right in the center of a real estate project that took what police called a "crime-plagued" nightclub and transformed it into a neighborhood catalyst for economic prosperity.

Jackson Wren said the coincidence seemed funny at first.

"Whenever people, they asked where are you located, I say intersection Highways 6 & 84, and it doesn't click and then I'm like, do you remember that old nightclub that was, you know, a little sketchy and they said oh yeah I know exactly where you are. So, yeah, it helps," he said.

He quickly realized as much as developers wanted to change the real estate landscape here, Nightlight wanted to change the donut landscape.

Other businesses joined in, too.

"I think a lot of people are excited to see this turned into something nice," said Holly Duke, of Club Pilates.

Launching a transformation this big during a pandemic proved troublesome, but determination from developers and business owners kept the wheels of progress turning.

"But when you're in a business you got to be in the business to make money. I'm very fortunate and blessed to be in a business that we're able to do that but at the same time we're able to transform buildings like this and partner with good people to have in the team works and move forward and doing something like this is something that's very special to us," said Gregg Glime, of Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate.

That's because the change here goes beyond the cosmetic.

Every one of the 10 businesses opening here have local ownership.

While some businesses have opened, many more have yet to open, bringing a lot more new and positive traffic to an area people used to avoid.

Now as people begin the flock to the shiny new shopping center, the Wrens hope it will make for a stronger launching pad for what they hope becomes a national brand.

"At this point what we want to do is have this location, make it operate just phenomenally, and then idea is that we're able to franchise this concept, you know, bring it to Houston, Dallas and maybe go to Denver...out of state" said Jackson.

So you might say, one late night business helped boost another in a very special way, making for something safer and tastier late at night.