BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Several new restaurants are in the process of either building or preparing to open along the beachfront in Biloxi. It's a promising sign of progress along busy Highway 90, especially since the high cost of post-Katrina insurance has hindered such development in the past.
A popular spot known for its chicken fingers is the latest development along the beachfront. A line of anxious customers awaited the opening of Raising Cane's Number 127 on Thursday morning.
Two-year-old Kiden was ready for some chicken fingers. So was Jason Owens.
"Gotta be there for the grand opening. It's one of the best chicken places around. We got to check it out, right?" said Owens.
The restaurant employs a team of 50 who were chosen from nearly 2,000 applications. At ten o'clock, the waiting crowd headed to the counter. Seabee Josh Sallee was the "official" first customer.
"We were hoping we'd be the first. So, we got here about nine o'clock for the ribbon cutting," he said.
This Biloxi store is unique.
"The best location as far as the view goes in the entire company. We're the first ever Raising Cane's on a beach. We've named the restaurant "chicken of the sea." Kind of proud of the name," said store manager Brent Joffrion.
Of course with that beautiful view, comes a risk. Hurricane Katrina leveled the O'Charley's restaurant which had been located at the same spot in front of Edgewater Mall. The high cost of insurance after Katrina is the factor mentioned most often in hindering restaurant and other beachfront development.
Beachfront restaurants still missing include: Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesdays, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy's, Cuco's and Red Lobster, just to name a few.
But there are also success stories: restaurants which have built along the beach. Shaggy's and Snapper's both built south of Highway 90, along with Blue Crab House, currently under construction. Hog Heaven and Hooter's opened on the north side, along with the soon-to-open White Pillars.
And now open for business: Raising Cane's.
"We're just hoping to live up to the expectations. And I'm sure we will," said the manager.
City of Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel says there's been a recent spike in restaurant development along the beach. Plans are in the works for another new restaurant between Shaggy's and The Blue Crab House. There are also plans for Ray's Beach Restaurant and Bar to locate on the southeast corner of Highway 90 and Veterans.