Downtown WF businesses take success into their own hands

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:48 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - At least 40 business owners gathered Wednesday in the heart of downtown Wichita Falls at the Wichita Theater Performing Arts Center to discuss the future of what downtown could look like and how they plan to take their success into their own hands.

Those who own bars, restaurants, and even arcades in Downtown Wichita Falls said that it’s a rare occasion when they all get to be in the same room together to share ideas and realize that they have more in common than what they thought.

“It hasn’t happened very often and I think that that’s a reason why we’re meeting, we’d like to have our voices heard,” said Samuel Pak, owner of The Hub. “How do we move forward, how do we collectively need to do better for what we should be doing for downtown, how do we make downtown a destination instead of ‘oh we’re just improving it.’ What are we doing differently to make people want to come here?”

During the event, business owners presented a slideshow presentation and compared Wichita Falls downtown to those of Branson, MO, and Granbury, Tx.

Founding members, including Dwayne Jackson, Sam Pak, Scott Poenitzsch, Dane Rodriguez, Tanner Lucking, Shauna LaRochque and Luis SernaMartinez, are hoping to join alongside their neighbors to create a group they’re calling the Downtown Direct Association of Wichita Falls. The group has already been established as a legal entity, with drafted a mission, vision statement, by-laws and elected positions. Each business member is allocated one vote and there will be bi-monthly general meetings.

“There’s a void that I think this group can certainty fill and our focus is businesses. Get some more foot traffic in here and have everybody enjoy a better business climate and more sales,” said Scott Poenitzsch, owner of Horseshoe Bend Cellars.

Mayor Stephen Santellana, along with Downtown Development Executive Director Jana Schmader, also attended the meeting to support this new endeavor.

“We know that anytime anyone gives time, energy, and money to downtown, we’re all better so we’re willing to work together on any initiatives that we possibly can,” said Schmader.

“There’s nothing against Downtown Development, I think a lot of the downtown business think that Downtown Development should be doing certain things but in reality, it’s not in their scope to do those things, so then there’s this gap. Well, who’s suppose to do those things, who’s responsibility is it, well it should be our own,” said Pak.

But owners said this isn’t the first time they have tried to create a group like this that unfortunately, didn’t work out.

“I’ve been here 30 years, been a part of multiple. I think what happens is you start to lose tenants and there’s not enough of the strength of the existing ones to keep it going. This is an opportunity that merchants, city combined with Downtown Development can create something that is what we like to call in theatre magical,” said Dwayne Jackson, owner of the Wichita Theater Performing Arts Center.

There were surveys and applications passed out during the meeting to businesses interested in joining the Downtown Direct Association of Wichita Falls, and for those who couldn’t be in attendance, there was also a livestream so they could also be a part of the meeting and not miss a beat.

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