Polk Street gets renovations giving more WT students getaways spots

The life of a full-time college student can be taxing. Some days it’s an early morning consumed with studying and a late night logging hours at work. On other days that schedule is flipped. For some, what remains the same is the longing for a night out with friends. When that time finally comes, there is a “showplace” in Amarillo to explore.

Polk Street will present a new look following The Polk Street Streetscape Project makeover that began last September courtesy of the $5.5 million donated by the City of Amarillo. The renovation process is well underway for several restaurants, bars, and hotels.

“Between the architecture and the neon signage, we are really trying to make Polk Street a showplace again,” said executive director at Center City of Amarillo Inc., Beth Duke.

Polk Street is home to many locally-owned restaurants with a variety of food options including Six Car Pub & Brewery, the only brewpub in Amarillo, Braceros which serves authentic Mexican food, and Toscana in The Barfield Hotel. The building was abandoned for decades until it opened for business in August of 2021.

“Toscana for a splurge at The Barfield, they make their own home-made pasta, every day,” Duke said. “It’s fabulous.”
Lauren Marler, a student at West Texas A&M University, is a frequent customer at Rain Premier Sushi Bar and Lounge. Marler has yet to report a negative experience or a poorly cooked meal at the establishment.

“There’s no wait hardly ever,” Marler said.

On top of the eatery, downtown city-goers can check out the entertainment spots for music and drinks. Various new college-friendly locations have popped up over the past few years. Chesney’s Whiskey Saloon is among the new attractions.

“They’ve got three different sides to it,” Marler said. “You know, they’ve got different music genres and so it’s kind of an atmosphere for almost everybody.”

LIT Arcade Bar is a popular place on Polk Street that has walls lined with arcade games. People who are 21 and up can enjoy alcoholic beverages and slip quarters into the machines for some retro video game fun.

“And that’s what I’m thinking about for students because you can really decide how much you want to spend and there’s so much free stuff,” Duke said.

The Courtyard by Marriott is one of the infamous lodges along the strip that has been given “new life”. The Courtyard by Marriott has a two-of-a-kind neon sign that lights up the hotel entrance. The other resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“It came back to life. That building [The Courtyard by Marriott] is on the National Register of Historic Places and a lot of people come just to stay in a national registered hotel,” Duke said.

Polk Street provides WT students with a vivacious atmosphere and fine dining for weekend getaways with friends and a homework-free scene.

“It’s really just a space where you can get everybody together,” Marler said.

City leaders have not released a completion date for The Polk Street Streetscape Project, but are opening the door for citizens to give feedback on implementations.