Check out latest Port Neches riverfront development: Food hall, restaurant & gathering place announced

Published 12:21 am Saturday, March 13, 2021

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PORT NECHES — Food halls are said to be a popular sight in large cities across the state, and now one is coming to Port Neches.

Dallon James calls it a modern day food court.

And this food court is going to feature Crown Pizza and Willy Burger — two businesses James owns with locations in Beaumont, as well as some others he’s keeping tight lipped about at this time.

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The upstairs of the eatery will feature a full service restaurant over looking the Neches River.

There will also be about 2 acres with artificial turf so kid can run around and play, and families can gather at tables. An area for a Farmer’s Market and an entertainment area are also planned.

City Manager Andre Wimer said the Port Neches City Council approved a Letter of Intent from Dallon James and Austin Stone this week for approximately 8.4 acres of land along the riverfront. The area is along the boundary of the new subdivision that is under construction.

The Letter of Intent allows for commitment in terms of using or allocating some space along the riverfront. A site plan remains to be finalized and would ultimately have to go before the city council for final approval before any action to convey the property, Wimer said.

The potential price for the land is $1, which is the same price investors paid for the land where a flourishing restaurant, Neches River Wheelhouse, is located.

The Letter of Intent allows for 180 days in order for the prospective owners to present a site plan to the city council for consideration. (Mary Meaux/The News)

The price comes with stipulations.

“The price is an incentive to facilitate development along the riverfront; however, there are caveats,” Wimer said. “The business has to be in operation for five years, cannot be sold within that time frame and the plan is the actual use of property that has been approved.”

The LOI allows for 180 days in order for the prospective owners to present a site plan to the city council for consideration.

“This has been a long term dream of mine to be down there,” James said. “Actually we’ve been working on purchasing Crown Pizza and Willy Burger for five years. I love Port Neches. It’s my home and where I was raised. We need to continue to grow out, keep our people here with good food and good entertainment.”

As James was talking on Friday, he was walking into another Port Neches business — Neches Brewing Company on Port Neches Avenue.

He said supporting local business is the key to him.

“It’s amazing. I graduated in 2002 from PNG, Tyler (Blount, owner of the brew pub) did, David (Pool) owner of The Avenue Coffee & Café and Chrissy Mercer at Wren were all in the same class,” he said, noting these 2002 graduates are all Port Neches entrepreneurs.

James shared other plans to engage the community.

“One of the big things we want to bring to Port Neches, we want to bring back Christmas on the Neches, which was replaced by RiverFest,” James said.

The event would have vendors and more.

He’s hoping to get some other businesses along the riverfront to join in and build the event, maybe have a boat parade, fireworks and add other events to the city.