DFW Region Businesses Succeed Despite Challenges, Annual Forecast Shows

Chuck Lo and his wife, Jean Xue, opened Hawaiian-inspired restaurant Pokeworks last August in Southlake. They used online ordering and outdoor patio dining, two trends that have helped many businesses in the Dallas-Forth Worth area survive over the past two years. (Samantha Van Dyke/Community Impact Journal)

Chuck Lo and his wife, Jean Xue, knew they wanted to open a poke restaurant, even though the coronavirus pandemic would complicate nearly every step of the process, Lo said.

While renovating a strip building they own in Southlake, they encountered labor and material shortages during construction, Lo said. Finding restaurant staff was also a challenge, he said.

Lo said Pokeworks in Southlake has seen some success since opening last August, particularly with online ordering and outdoor patio dining, two trends that have helped many businesses in the Dallas-Forth area. Worth to go through the last two years.

“We’re in a much better place today [than March 2020]said Michelle Caplan, executive vice president of Texas-based commercial real estate firm Weitzman.

“Everyone from retailers to homeowners to buyers…all faced huge challenges in innovation and ingenuity. We managed the risk and achieved one of the biggest turnarounds ever. of the market ever achieved.”

Lo said one of the things that helped Pokeworks stay strong was its online ordering system.

“Right now about a third of our sales are take-out,” Lo said. “It’s getting closer and closer to half.”

Having a place where people could dine safely was also a priority, Lo said.

“When I built the restaurant, I knew I wanted a patio outside so people could stay and eat here much like they did before,” Lo said. “Everyone is sort of ready to get back to their normal lives.”

According to Weitzman, this return to in-person shopping and dining is happening throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

“People don’t want to stay home and buy everything,” said Noam Ben-Zvi, CEO and co-founder of location data analytics company Placer.ai.

The company tracks consumer foot traffic for retail and real estate companies using data from mobile devices. Ben-Zvi said at the January event that he believes malls are “here to stay”.

As part of its report, Weitzman noted that construction of new retail space in the area was at an all-time low in 2021, with just 640,000 square feet of new space added. That was nearly half the previous record of 1.2 million square feet built in 2012, according to Matthew Rosenfeld, executive vice president of Weitzman and chief brokerage for DFW. However, increased demand for retail space and rising occupancy rates are expected to help turn the tide in 2022, according to forecasts.

“We expect construction to total approximately 2 million square feet [in 2022]Kaplan said.

Weitzman’s forecast also revealed that retail occupancy was 93.5% across the region at the end of 2021. That rate was the third-highest total the company has recorded for DFW, just below its previously recorded highs of nearly 94% in 2019 and nearly 95% in 1981.

Company data is based on more than 200 million square feet of retail space across the metroplex. Weitzman’s forecast for this year calls for retail occupancy to increase to 95%.

The commercial rental market in 2021 was also the third strongest the company has seen in 22 years, according to Rosenfeld.

“This is [a] complete reversal from 2020, when pandemic-related closings resulted in an increase in vacancy of more than 4 million square feet,” Rosenfeld said during the January forecast. “Now our numbers [going into 2022] remarkably similar to 2019 before the pandemic, one of the best years ever for our retail market.

Adaptation to Grapevine and Colleyville

As restaurants and small businesses suffered during the height of the pandemic, Chelsea Rose, president of the Colleyville Chamber of Commerce, said financial advisors were hosting in-room luncheons to help.

“[Advisors] were able to educate during this time of uncertainty,” Rose said. “There were a lot of really creative things that [businesses] were able to discover. »

Among those adaptations, Rose said he noticed curbside pickup at restaurants and retail stores becoming prevalent and staying prevalent.

“I feel like ‘sidewalk’ has become a lot more of a buzzword than it ever was before,” Rose said. “Before seeing perhaps a [parking] space or two designated to this, but you quickly saw a lot of it. Now they are still everywhere.

This shift is also happening with restaurants, such as Velvet Taco, Caplan said. This restaurant and others are modifying some of their existing restaurants to include digital drive-thru windows that allow customers to pick up orders online with minimal contact, she said.

Velvet Taco announced on its website plans to open a new restaurant at 440 W. Hwy. 114 in vines.

According to Matt Enzler, senior managing director of multi-family development firm Trammell Crow Residential, a shift in work environments over the past few years is also being incorporated into the design of new apartments and townhouses. The company has built multi-family developments throughout the metroplex.

“We’re adding more home office type options, whether it’s a fully dedicated study or if it’s just adding a place…for a [personal] workspace,” Enzler said. “Then outside the unit we added, for all our new developments, … more work space. You don’t necessarily want to live and work in the same place 24 hours a day.”

While Trammell Crow was incorporating many of these options into designs even before the pandemic began, Enzler said the company has placed more emphasis on these features, and he expects that to continue.

“I don’t think there’s a question of people having more flexible working hours and more working from home [opportunities] …so we need to be able to provide [work spaces] for them,” he said. Businesses on Main Street in Grapevine have also had to learn to adapt quickly, said Garin Giacomarro, the city’s assistant director of economic development. Giacomarro said many Grapevine businesses have declared March 2021 to be the best spring season their business has ever had.

“There is a lot of pent-up demand and a lot of customer support. So we feel pretty good. said Giacomo.

“Tech and Mortar”

Weitzman’s Rosenfeld said grocery stores in the region have led the way in using digital tools to help brick-and-mortar retailers meet changing customer needs. It’s an approach Weitzman calls “technology and mortar.”

“Without a doubt, COVID[-19] transformed the behavior of grocery shoppers and physical locations [that] offer delivery and curbside pickup [are] taking advantage,” Rosenfeld said.

Many Grapevine companies have benefited from this technology-and-mortar approach, Giacomarro said.

“[We] saw a lot of determination…a lot of creativity in the way they approached things. There were many retailers who would never have considered [doing] orders online and I had to sit down and figure out how to make it happen,” Giacmarro said. “I think most of them benefited from it in the end, but they kind of got pushed into it.”

The future of business looks bright as interest in Texas, the Dallas-Fort Worth and Grapevine area remains steady, Giacomarro said.

“We are super competitive, especially after what is happening now that we have recovered very quickly,” said Giacomarro. “So there’s just a lot of optimism.”