Highway 49 Offers More Options For Hungry Drivers

Highway 49 has turned into an appetizing place for the restaurant business. Whataburger, Los Tres Amigos, and Chick-Fil-A are among the newest restaurants on the block.

Chris McKlveen is the owner of Chick-fil-a.

"This location is the busiest on the Gulf Coast right now, with the intersection of Highway 49 and the Interstate out here. It's absolutely the busiest spot with traffic count."

About 57,000 cars travel along this hectic highway everyday, and many locals and tourists come in search of a place to eat. Sometimes, choosing what to order is easier than picking a restaurant.

"We always ask each other, 'Where are we going to stop?' It's nice to have all the different choices," Lynn Allen of Wiggins said.

"We think it's great, because you don't really need to eat at the same place twice in one week. It's great on the palate," Marc Contevita of Gulfport said.

Gulfport's business development manager says all the growth began when the I-10/Highway 49 interchange went up some 30 years ago. Since then, two large malls and a WalMart Supercenter moved in. They helped lure the other retail stores and restaurants to the area.

Now, two more restaurants are going up -- Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers and a fast food favorite, Wendy's. They hope to savor the same success others are eating up.

"Business has been outstanding. It has far surpassed what we thought it would do," McKlveen said.

Armando Oseguera owns Los Tres Amigos.

"Oh yeah, I'm so glad we came here. We got a lot of people's support, and we're very happy to be on Highway 49."

And of course, more restaurants mean more money for the city. Over the last 18 months, Gulfport collected more than a million dollars in tax revenues from new retail sales. Officials say roughly half of that amount was generated by the restaurant industry.