McALLEN — When Arturo Gutierrez started scouting locations for a new sports pub, he only considered two locations: North McAllen and Interstate 2/Expressway 83.
“I was looking for a good, high-traffic location on the expressway,” said Gutierrez, who recently acquired the Tilted Kilt restaurant franchise rights for the Rio Grande Valley.
After studying traffic and economic data, Gutierrez picked land on Interstate 2/Expressway 83 near Ware Road — just west of Cracker Barrel and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. The Valley’s first Tilted Kilt, an Irish sports pub, opened Monday and drew more than 200 people on opening night.
Tilted Kilt joined McAllen’s building boom between Ware Road and Taylor Road, where about 36 businesses have filed city permits for about $22 million worth of construction projects, according to city permits. Several new shopping plazas, a five-story hotel and other projects have opened along the south frontage road.
Restaurants, including Mambo Seafood, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and sushi restaurants, now dominate the frontage road. Developers also plan to build a five-story, 100-room Hawthorn Suites, according to data compiled by McAllen and released by Teclo Garcia, the city’s government affairs director.
“There’s no doubt that there’s a tremendous amount of traffic on — I guess what’s called Interstate 2 now — Expressway 83 between Mission and McAllen,” said Roger Stolley, a real estate agent with NAI Rio Grande Valley, a commercial real estate brokerage.
Retailers have noticed traffic from the Anzalduas International Bridge and followed Sharyland’s development during the past few years, Stolley said. With commercial opportunities taken along Mission’s frontage road, retailers have started moving east into McAllen, filling the gap between Shary Road and Ware Road.
“Access on the expressway gives you a broader appeal,” Stolley said, and helps attract customers from farther away than simply Mission and McAllen.