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Suffolk's renaissance feeds restaurant boom.

Suffolk's downtown renaissance includes a record number of new restaurants launched in recent months, many benefiting from Virginia Enterprise Zone incentives. One example is A.J. Gator's, which opened in November 2005 on W. Washington Street. Owners Jeff Sharer and Al Zuharis felt Suffolk was the right place for their eighth sports bar. "Suffolk's the fastest growing city in the state," said Sharer. "There have been four, five, six successful restaurants downtown, and we're trying to be the next one."

We got into an old building and fixed it up. We want to save the charm from years ago," Sharer said. "We're in this for the long haul. We think Suffolk's going to get bigger and better."

Other recent restaurant openings include: Agora, Applebee's, The Baron's Pub, Café Moose, Casablanca, Harbour View Family Grill, Java 149, Kelly's Tavern, Main Street Jazz Restaurant, Pisces Seafood, Panevino, Ruby Tuesday and Tropical Smoothies.