15 new restaurants opening on the Coast — three in downtown Gulfport

Fifteen new restaurants and bars are opening across South Mississippi, including three on one street in downtown Gulfport.

These new eateries on 27th Avenue in Gulfport have some history to them. They sport brick and beams to add character, courtyards for dining alfresco and access to Fishbone Alley, one of the “most amazing” unknown streets.

Five years ago, seven restaurants were listed on the poster to advertise View the Cruise in Downtown Gulfport, said Laurie Toups, the city’s Main Street director. This year’s View the Cruise on the opening weekend of Cruisin’ The Coast will expand to two days, and downtown will have about 20 restaurants on the poster, she said.

“What we have in downtown Gulfport is a lot of good food,” she said.

C.A. Sarducci’s Pizzeria reopened Tuesday after moving from Cowan Road to 27th Avenue.

“We have about three times the size now,” said Jim Branson, who owns and operates the popular restaurant with his wife Carolann.

With arched wooden double entry doors and a combination of booths, tables and counter seating, “It makes for a nice pizza place,” he said. The menu features salads, sandwiches, pasta and pizza that is available with low-carb crust or in a specialty pizza like the Jerk Chicken & Cranberry pizza with a kick of jalapeno.

Just to the north on the avenue, The District on the Alley will open in a few weeks. It’s already got “wow” from the open kitchen, the U-shaped bar that’s been expanded, the decorative lighting that’s being installed and the balcony above it all.

Owner Rob Reid said 27th Avenue and the downtown is “ready to explode” as the Mississippi Aquarium opens soon. He’s brought Chef Alanzo O’Kelly, formerly at Phonecia in Ocean Springs, to prepare upscale gastric bar food highlighted by burgers, seafood and steaks and will add craft cocktails and a fire pit for fun.

And just to the south, a former professional baseball player will step up to the plate and open The Press Box — Daiquiri Bar & Lounge. The baseball theme will be carried by a checkerboard of baseball cards under glass on the bar top, baseball bats embedded into the face of the bar, a baseball diamond painted on the floor and sports lockers along the wall.

It also promises a wall of daiquiri machines and a large courtyard for those who like to sip or dine outdoors.

The new downtown restaurants replace those whose owners left for a variety of reasons, Toups said, whether for personal or business circumstances. “Sometimes it just isn’t the right fit,” she said.

With the success of downtown restaurants, parking is becoming a challenge in the evenings.

“We used to not have a problem at all,” she said. People can still find parking in the downtown, she said, it just might not be right in front of the restaurant where they want to eat.

“Walk around and check out the neighborhood,” she said.

Live music is every Wednesday and Friday from March through September in the Fishbone Alley Music Series. She’s put together other upcoming events: Pink Dress Fun Run and Fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness on Oct. 19. Downtown Trunk or Treat for Halloween on Oct. 26 and a new Honey Bee Festival on Oct. 27, with vendors, food & music.

Toups said she’d also like to see retail and more apartments return to downtown. Eight apartments are on the top two floors of The District on the Alley project, she said, and she’s working on getting more downtown living.

“I have a goal – 222 by 2022,” she said.

Other new restaurants, bars, caterers and bakeries are opening in Gulfport and across the Coast. Among them are:

Dolce Bakeshop, a second location at 1720 Pass Road, Gulfport. Ribbon cutting is Sept. 11 and in addition to pastries and specialty baked goods, it will offer breakfast and lunch, coffee and other hand-crafted beverages.

Boozer’s Brew & Cafe Too, 1921 15th St., Gulfport, just north of the aquarium under construction. Ribbon cutting is Sept. 13.

Cheers Lounge II, 1603 28th St., Gulfport

Red Light Bar and Grill, 2609 14th St., Gulfport

Blue Marlin seafood restaurant at Centennial Plaza, U.S. 90, Gulfport

Magic Vegan Cafe, 1723 25th Ave., Gulfport

Liz & Naomie’s Gourmet Eats catering, Gulfport

Bonfire Restaurant, 273 Caillavet St., Biloxi

El Rincon 2, 15701 Lemoyne Blvd. in St. Martin.

Taco Bell under construction at 7402 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs

McAllister’s Deli coming to 4101 Hospital Road, Pascagoula

McAllister’s Deli also is coming to Lucedale in George County

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.