Ciana Neubauer (right) and her husband Joshua, both classically trained chefs, opened The Chocolate Gallery in October 2012. Ciana grew up in Bryan and has seen the once less-desirable area become one that has very few vacant buildings, one that has daily foot traffic and one that is growing.
After moving back to Bryan following graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, the Neubauer's wanted to open a small shop to showcase Ciana's pastries and Joshua's chocolate.
What they found, instead, was 7,500 square-feet space they occupy at 211 N. Main St. built in 1898. The building has enough room for an executive kitchen where visitors can see Ciana and Joshua at work, a retail section for utensils and more and a small classroom where Ciana teaches baking classes.
"Being downtown, having such a large space is unique here ... People walk in and are like, "Wow!" It's nice when they have stretching room in the downtown area." - Ciana Neubauer
Cindy Roberts owns Burr's Unfinished Furniture, a store opened by her parents, Rollie and Kay Burr in the 1980s. The furniture store still sits in its original location at 314 N. Main Street, serving as one of few stores that stayed downtown even when other businesses started leaving.
"I had a vision that (downtown) would come back, and it did ... It's amazing what you can do in downtown. It's all walking distance and very friendly." - Cindy Roberts
Robin Kenney, the owner of Bird's Nest Gifts & Antiques, remembers a downtown Bryan in the 1970s where people came for the finest clothing and other goods.
That experience led to Kenney and her family deciding to move her business to a 130-year-building in downtown to house her antiques and help draw up a buzz for each weekend event happening in the area.
"This revitalization of downtown has really been exciting because it's bringing stores back to the downtown. I think people are ready for this, where they like to come downtown (and) park right in front of the store. They like to browse. They like to visit the little bit different type of shops that can open up down here." - Robin Kenney