The Mercer Crossing Boardwalk, like several mixed-used development projects in North Texas, has been a complex project to kick off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mercer Crossing itself is a 370-acre project near Interstate 635 and Luna Road. The Boardwalk is its culinary center, and the future home of five restaurants and additional retail locations.
Though today there is empty space, soon there will be shops, luxurious apartments, and single-family homes. There will be green parks, interspersed with walking and biking paths. Mercer Crossing residents will be able to walk down the street to the Boardwalk, and enjoy a meal on a spacious patio overlooking the water.
As Michael Beatty of Centurion American explains, though they were declared essential during the pandemic, they were not spared its hurdles. For example, the survey company they use battled 14 cases of COVID-19 in their office. Additionally, delays on material producing caused lumber costs to triple, costs that rolled into every aspect of their project, including rent prices for partners like Refined Hospitality Concepts.
“If a burger at one of the restaurants costs 25 cents more, it’s because of lumber,” he explains. “It’s been a long process to reach this day.”
COVID-19 hasn’t been the only storm to weather. Centurion American COO Sean Terry, who is also the mayor of Celina, gave opening remarks under the shadow of an early December search warrant that FBI agents executed at his home for unknown reasons.
But on Thursday, Centurion American took a huge step by breaking ground on the Mercer Crossing Boardwalk and introducing the first two restaurants, Sfereco and Primo’s MX, both from Refined Hospitality Concepts. Robert Hall, the CEO of Refined Hospitality Concepts, points out that the accomplishment is particularly exciting because both companies made their headquarters in Farmers Branch.
The first restaurants at the Mercer Crossing Boardwalk are anticipated to open by early-2022.
“This is special because you can only be from one place,” Hall says. “To us, it’ll be a crown jewel in our backyard.”
However, the Mercer Crossing Boardwalk forms just the southern part of a multi-phase development that includes of single-family, multi-family, and commercial spaces.
Fully completed, Mercer Crossing will cover 370 acres in Farmers Branch, and includes 975 homesites, including 282 townhomes, 693 single-family homes, and 1,700 luxe apartments and independent living units. In addition, they envision approximately 100,000 square feet of office space, several amenity centers, ample open space and walking paths.
“We feel fortunate to be brought in because we share a lot of similar philosophies, like a commitment to quality,” Hall says. “It took a lot of time deciding what was best for this community, really studying the market and talking to city leaders here.”
The Boardwalk Restaurants
The first two restaurants coming to Mercer Crossing Boardwalk will be Primo MX and Sfereco. Primo MX was a beloved concept in Dallas about three decades ago, and Hall says he was honored to breathe new life into the TexMex restaurant. Over the past year, they’ve opened three Primo’s locations, including the original in Uptown.
“We’re bringing a new expression, a new chef component to it. It’ll have a scratch kitchen, and employ a lot of talented chefs from DFW,” he says. They’re practicing forward thinking, and will implement delivery and carryout, and overall, take a casual approach to dining. “A four-hour meal experience happens less and less,” he says. “We’ll be approachable … with a true residential neighborhood feel.”
As for Sfereco, he says diners can look forward to handmade pastas, six kinds of meatballs, and great pizza. “The theme is Spaghetti Western,” he says, inspired by old Spaghetti Western movies. Though it’s traditional Italian-American, they’re implementing new changes to match dietary preferences and health-conscious mindsets. “We’re doing a lot more veggie protein, cauliflower crust, chickpea meatballs, fun things that appeal to the way people eat.”
Hall adds that they are excited about the beauty of Mercer Crossing Boardwalk, with green space and a water feature. “Frankly, people like boardwalks because they offer a little more flexibility in the experience. You can enjoy a stroll, then go inside to eat. We want natural aesthetics; it’s great to be waterfront in a city as large as Dallas.”
He explains that the restaurant industry as a whole is finding ways to be more forward-thinking. They must learn to plan for the unplannable like a pandemic. Outdoor space is key.
“It’s one of the positives out of this thing,” he says. “We’ve gone absolutely back to the drawing board on so many different levels.”
The Mercer Crossing Boardwalk Vision
Ultimately, the vision for Mercer Crossing remains the same. Beatty paints a picture of a community where people will come to live, to raise their children, and to spend time together enjoying amenities. He sees them walking from home, to the restaurants on the waterfront, a central feature that he hopes will hold the community together.
“We’re there to provide hospitality and serve the community,” Hall says. “That’s what it means for us.”
“This is in the heart of the metroplex,” Beatty says. “We want to improve quality of life for all citizens, everyone in the city.”