2011 Year in Review – More hotels, restaurants open; retailers expand

By Dennis Seid | NEMS Daily Journal

Commercial building, which hit a lull during the recession, came storming back in Northeast Mississippi. While some retailers and restaurants closed – most notably Books-A-Million – there was a noticeable increase in activity.
• Tupelo saw a trio of hotel openings with the Fairfield Inn & Suites, the Hampton Inn & Suites and the Best Western. Together, they added more than 250 rooms.
That helped offset the closure of the Travelodge, which closed suddenly in October. It had 106 rooms.
The Microtel Inn closed temporarily in August, but reopened with a new owner.
Fusion Hospitality owner Bruce Patel, who closed the Howard Johnson on North Gloster Street and is replacing it with a Candlewood Suites and a full-service Holiday Inn, took over the Microtel and reopened it. Patel, who also owns the Best Western Plus, also announced a 16-room addition to his Comfort Suites hotel.
• Among the new restaurants opening in Tupelo was Crossroads Rib Shack. The Corinth-based restaurant is open in the Tupelo Commons development by the Malco Theater. Nearby, LongHorn Steakhouse opened, and a Buffalo Wild Wings is expected to open later this month.
Saltillo-based Bishop’s BBQ Grill opened on McCullough Boulevard in the former Billy’s Quick Stop.
Mrs. Robinson’s Grill, Christy’s Hamburgers, Don Julio, Flat Tire Grille, Tutti Frutti, Chips and Salsa, A Taste of Soul, Extreme Yogurt and Patron Tex Mex were among the other restaurant openings in Tupelo. Romie’s BBQ moved into the former Rib Cage in downtown Tupelo
• Belk invested $5 million and JC Penney invested $1.5 million to renovate their stores at The Mall at Barnes Crossing. Reed’s also expanded at the mall.
In Corinth, JC Penney doubled its space, investing $3.7 million to move into the old Walmart at Southgate Plaza.
Back in Tupelo, Toys R Us also remodeled, adding a Babies R Us. Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft opened in the former Goody’s store in Tupelo’s Big Oaks Shopping Center.
In Booneville, the former Walmart became Second Street Plaza, housing several retailers including Dirt Cheap, Aaron’s, Goody’s, Factory Connection and Hibbett Sports.