Infiniti dealership owner George Grubbs III moved from Euless to Grapevine in 2015 expecting to grow about 40 percent over three years’ time.
But Grubbs’s business grew 40 percent within the first month. And after only a year Grubbs had to add more sales offices and moved the back-office functions off the site entirely.
“It was just an overnight firehose of success,” he said, now with the world’s largest Infiniti dealership. “We almost couldn’t handle it.”
This story is not uncommon for businesses in Grapevine. Businesses have said their locations usually increase sales and profits faster than their locations elsewhere, Grapevine Economic Development Director Bob Farley said. Grapevine’s strategic location in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, easy access to major highways and tourism attractions have helped contribute to the growth, he said.
“What happens in Grapevine … is you get a 15 or 20 percent bump [in sales]because it’s a destination area to come into,” Farley said.
Bigger in Grapevine
Mason & Dixie restaurant opened its first storefront on Main Street in Grapevine in 2017. A little more than a year later, chef and owner Beth Newman had to expand again.
“I’m realizing about three months in that we didn’t have enough seats,” she said.
Last year the restaurant expanded into the space next door. Newman said her seating capacity doubled, and her front-of-house staff tripled. Her sales also increased.
“We’re up 80-100 percent from where we were a year ago,” she said.
Business growth in Grapevine is a repeated phenomenon. The added potential for Grapevine businesses was seen even in the ‘80s, when John T. Evans, president of the real estate brokerage firm named after him, realized the city could be a hub to diners.
At that time there were no sit-down restaurants in Grapevine. He reached out to Chili’s Grill & Bar anyway.
“I had to give them a low-priced deal to start with because they weren’t for sure about the market,” Evans said. “So I sold them the property, but I took a percentage of their sales.”
He said Chili’s soon came back wanting to rework the deal. The restaurant was doing so well with its new Grapevine location that it was paying him more of its sales percentage than it wanted, Evans said. He ended up giving Chili’s the opportunity to buy that percentage off.
Evans has since brought many more restaurants to Grapevine, including Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s and Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille. This last restaurant opened in 2018 and has since performed in the top three of all 16 Perry’s locations, restaurant officials said.
Some companies are taking this effect Grapevine has on businesses into account before they develop. As these companies prepare to move to Grapevine, they have decided to expand their plans in anticipation of the growth factor that is specific to Grapevine, Farley said.
“[Stand Rock] started out as basically one 490-room hotel, and now it’s probably going to be closer to 900 rooms,” Farley said.
Even Kubota Tractor Corporation, which initially told the city it was committed to bringing close to 350 jobs when it opened its Grapevine headquarters in 2017, is now at 450 jobs, Farley said.
“We just finished our ninth-consecutive year of sales growth,” said Dan Jones, Kubota’s vice president of administration. “We’re growing, not only in sales, but in people, too. We keep adding more people to the company.”
Farley said anticipated growth is why many companies, Kubota included, purchase more property than they need for day-one operations.
“They didn’t know how fast that would happen, but it’s really happened within a few years,” Farley said.
‘A healthy ecosystem’
The demonstrated effect of doing business in Grapevine has increased the number of businesses in the city. The Grapevine Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest in the area, with around 1,200 member businesses, according to Grapevine Chamber of Commerce CEO RaDonna Hessel. She also attributed Grapevine’s success to its location. She specifically mentioned the seven major highways that cross the city: SH 114, SH 121, I-635, SH 360, Spur 97, SH 26 and FM 2499.
“We’re located at the center of the Dallas-Fort Worth region, so [our location is]just convenient for most businesses,” Hessel said. “And we still have land available.”
In addition to its location, the variety of Grapevine’s amenities make the city a destination, City Manager Bruno Rumbelow said. He pointed to Grapevine Mills—a shopping district that generates about 13 million visits each year. The city also has the Gaylord Texan Resort and the Great Wolf Lodge for business and leisure travelers, he said.
“There’s been an intentional effort by the mayor and council, by the staff, over the last 25 or 30 years to create demand generators that really do produce, in terms of visitor counts annually, a really high total number,” Rumbelow said.
Businesses in Grapevine expand faster than locations elsewhere because the city has “a healthy ecosystem,” Hessel said. This ecosystem keeps the community’s businesses prosperous and diverse, she said.
“The tourism boosts the attractions. The tourism and attractions boost the restaurants. The restaurants boost the citizens, so it just all feeds together,” Hessel said.
The benefits to residents
Strong sales tax revenues often translate into lower property tax rates, officials said.
When comparing fiscal year 2018-19 city property tax rates, Grapevine’s FY 2018-19 rate of $0.2893 per $100 valuation was lower than Colleyville’s rate of $0.3208 per $100 valuation and Southlake’s rate of $0.447 per $100 valuation.
Residents can use these savings to take advantage of what businesses offer, such as dining options and hotels. The neighboring cities of Colleyville and Southlake add amenities through their own mix of businesses to the local economy.
“In a Metroplex like this, we all succeed or fail together,” Hessel said. “It’s important that Colleyville is successful and Southlake is successful, because if one area starts going down it can start pulling the rest of the area down with it.”
When it comes to being a home for businesses, Grapevine often exceeds companies’ expectations, Farley said.
“This is a large circle of pretty affluent people, and this is a meeting point for people coming east and west. It usually works out very, very well for [businesses],” he said.