How Covid Impacted The Shops at Stadium Park


SAN ANGELO, TX — Innovation is still happening at The Shops at Stadium Park, a locally owned shopping center in the 1800-2100 block of Knickerbocker Road, despite the pandemic and a rapidly shifting business climate that saw clientele move towards more online transactions than in-person shopping. Mary Jane Steadman, who manages the shopping center, hopes the closing of a restaurant there does not cloud an otherwise optimistic outlook for the retail shopping center.

Tossed — Fresh Food Fast is closing. Kevin Kent, owner/operator said his venture while lofty and hopeful, was just not profitable enough to meet his goals. He had been hopeful that he could expand quickly to three to five more locations of the healthy fast food chain concept when he opened, pre-Covid, but the pandemic took its toll on all restaurants in the region, including his, with mandatory shutdowns and government-mandated reduced capacity. The government actions sapped all of the momentum out of Kent’s unique dining concept.

“We still were able to attract a small, very loyal group of patrons. I mean, I know some customers who would dine for lunch almost every day of the week,” Kent said. Tossed serves high-protein, healthy chicken salads with a calorie count in the 500 range, yet the servings are fulfilling and can satisfy an appetite.

“We have loved being able to serve healthy options. We filled a much needed niche in San Angelo and were determined to stay open and serve the community through the pandemic and shut downs. The world has changed, as have dining habits, which particularly includes a drastic decline in business meetings and lunchtime catering and gatherings. We kept it going as long as possible. We have an incredibly devoted team and following. We are going to miss both. We hope that you will come see us one last time before we say goodbye,” Kent said.

Tossed has April 17 scheduled as its last day in business. Kent said on the Tossed app he has seen many patrons with enough points to get a free meal as an award. He wants to make sure his best customers with points get a chance to use them.

When one door closes, another door opens is the theme for Stadium Park, however.

“It is time to give someone else a shot,” Kent said.

That someone is Nicole McDuffie with The Plated Dish. After four years of helping Magnolia founders Chip & Joanna Gaines build their food empire in Waco, including helping develop both of Joanna’s cookbooks, Nicole has returned home to San Angelo to share her culinary adventures with the local community.

Steadman noted that The Plated Dish, to be opening soon in Stadium Park where Tossed has been, will be a creative kitchen space that will bring private catering, pop up supper clubs, cooking classes, and more to the Concho Valley area. The Plated Dish will open later in May for private catering and supper clubs. McDuffie hopes to open to the public for lunch service later in the summer.

Steadman believes innovative dining concepts like The Plated Dish are needed and thrive with the synergy of great neighbors Helping McDuffie’s imagination, The Shops at Stadium Park has experienced somewhat of a revival, literally, Steadman said.

Late last summer, The Revival Boutique and The Roost Boutique opened near Happy Trails. Although they were closed briefly by government orders during the height of the pandemic, both stores pivoted their business models, and with a strong social media presence continued to market their product mix through their websites, Facebook, and Instagram.

In the other direction at The Shops, after an extensive remodel throughout last summer, the former Zentner’s Daughter Steak House location is the new home to both Napoli’s and If Walls Could Talk.

With a newly designed bar, amber lighting and other updates, Napoli’s offers an elegant Italian dining atmosphere perfect for date night or intimate private gatherings. With the keen eye of Taylor Harris, If Walls Could Talk offers unique home furnishings and the luxury of full design services.

Through the past year’s rough times, exciting things are happening. Last year’s hail storm brought the center a new sign update at the shopping center, and the TxDOT right-of-way project just completed new sidewalks in front of the property.

“Spring is in the air, and outdoors is still where we all want to be. Come see what’s happening and take a walk in the park where you can dine, shop and play at The Shops at Stadium Park,” Steadman said.

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