MERCEDES – The city of Mercedes hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for the Gateway Travel Center, which is bringing Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s restaurants to the Queen City.
The 11,500-square-foot convenience store and travel center, which will be located at the northeast corner of Mile 2 East and Expressway 83, will have food, showers, a laundry area and a 24-hour Wendy’s restaurant. The store will also bring a full Chick-fil-A to the store location.
“Today we are celebrating one of the biggest projects we have,” said Fred Gonzalez, president of the board of the Mercedes Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the Development Corporation. “This project is leading to a domino effect with other businesses coming to town as well.”
The store and two restaurants are estimated to bring about 70 new jobs to the area, starting with Chick-fil-A — which is expected to open in December. Total completion of the travel center will come early next year.
The travel center marks another new development for Mercedes, which includes a Starbucks, which the city confirmed during Wednesday’s ceremony, and a Sonic Drive-In, which was set to open Saturday across from HEB Park at 620 E. Second St. The Sonic Drive – Bringing 50 jobs to the area.
“This project here has created a lot of excitement for the city and the Mid-Lalley,” Gonzalez said. “Mercedes is centrally located throughout the Valley. Mercedes is located between two of the major airports here in the Valley. I can tell you that since the announcement of the Gateway Travel Center with the two restaurants, we’ve had developers running up and down the freeway combing our downtown area to see how they can also invest in the communities ours.
“We’re not done.”
Mohamed Sharaf, who serves as owner of Aradi Properties and vice president of development for Victron Energy was on hand Wednesday for the groundbreaking ceremony. He said customers at his store can expect “the best, cleanest and best service of any convenience store and travel center in the Valley.”
“The atmosphere and the friendliness of the (Rio Grande Valley) people is undeniable in every region, every country I’ve dealt with anywhere,” Sharaf said. “I think definitely part of that is the Mexican culture and the Hispanic culture here. I definitely also think part of it is the small town roots that you see and the humility and family values that you see in this community.”
Sharaf said the city’s location in the Valley with its proximity to the Valley’s larger communities and shopping centers played a large role in his decision to develop the store in Mercedes.
“I personally think it’s totally a hidden gem,” Sharaf said. “I consider myself lucky and fortunate to have found him. I think other people will start to catch on and come here very quickly.”
According to Mayor Oscar Montoya, the company has invested over 15 million dollars in the new project. When asked about the amount the city of Mercedes has invested, the mayor said he did not have those numbers available at that time. However, he said the city’s investment was “very small.”
“Just (Sharaf’s) investment in the city is a boom for us that we haven’t seen in maybe 16 years,” Montoya said. “We are really excited. This is our second major store to open here. …We are just thrilled. We are excited about the energy it is creating.”
The mayor said the new developments are further evidence of the city’s continued growth – growth that also includes housing development.
On Thursday, the city hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Valley Ranch subdivision, which will have 181 lots. The subdivision will be located at the corner of Mile 8 North and Mile 1 East.
“We’re excited that people are choosing Mercedes — which has become a hotbed for the business,” Montoya said. “We are open for business.”