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McKinney hospitality group expands its downtown investments with two acquisitions

The Wells Group will relocate popular farm-to-table restaurant Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and renovate the Grand Hotel.

Restaurateur Rick Wells likes to call McKinney “one of the most business-friendly places in the country.” So the owner of Rick’s Chophouse is doubling down on the city’s picturesque downtown.

His hospitality company, the Wells Group, has acquired two buildings on the square, the 121-year-old Masonic Lodge and the Grand Hotel, where his steak restaurant has attracted diners since 2007. Wells considers the seller, Don Day, a longtime mentor.

The Masonic Lodge building will become the new home of Wells Group’s Harvest Seasonal Kitchen restaurant. The move will allow the restaurant to grow to 10,400 square feet across the building’s three floors.

The first floor will seat 80 guests and resemble the restaurant’s current 6,500-square-foot location at 112 E. Louisiana St. The second floor will feature a tasting room, Harvest’s signature open kitchen and private dining space for 52 guests, while the third floor will become home to The Masonic bar, featuring live music and views of McKinney’s cultural district.

The third floor of the historic Masonic Lodge in downtown McKinney will be turned into a bar with live music.
The third floor of the historic Masonic Lodge in downtown McKinney will be turned into a bar with live music.(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)

Wells said he hopes to triple his current number of employees, eventually growing the Harvest team to more than 90.

The Masonic Lodge renovation, scheduled for completion in fall 2022, aims to preserve the building’s history while incorporating Harvest’s signature sustainable design. The restaurant emphasizes its connection to local farmers and artists, with almost all ingredients sourced within a 250-mile radius. Harvest was recognized for its commitment to conservation in 2019 and 2020 as a TxN 20 honoree by Texan by Nature, a nonprofit linking business and conservation founded by former first lady Laura Bush.

Wells first began looking to expand Harvest over three years ago. He said once he walked into the Masonic Lodge building, he knew it was the perfect spot.

Despite the difficulties the hospitality industry has faced during the pandemic, Wells said the opportunity was too good to pass up. “When opportunity strikes, you grab it,” he said.

The Wells Group bought the Grand Hotel in June and has begun an extensive remodel to update many of the boutique hotel’s amenities while preserving its historic character. Each of the hotel’s 44 rooms will provide a unique experience, Wells said.

“We feel like we’re able, as a smaller hotel, to really create a very curated experience that’s kind of hand-picked,” Wells said.

The Grand Hotel in downtown McKinney.
The Grand Hotel in downtown McKinney.(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)

He’s picking up much of the hotel’s furniture and art himself from Texas antique dealers and artists. That attention to detail will help elevate events hosted at the hotels, particularly weddings, he said.

The hotel renovation is on track to be completed by the spring.

Wells said he’s optimistic about the strength of his investments in McKinney.

“I believe that we live in one of the best, most business-friendly places in the United States, and I think that people continue to want to move to North Texas,” Wells said. “I felt like that the last 10 or 15 years have been crazy growth, but I don’t think it’s anything like what we’re about to see.”

Ann Gehan. Ann Gehan is a business reporter covering companies and economic topics. She has previously reported for INDY Week in Durham, N.C. and the Concord Monitor in Concord, N.H. Ann is a graduate of Duke University, where she studied political science, economics, and journalism.

anngehan@gmail.com anngehan
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