Pasadena is no longer a small town but a not-so-small city; it's still growing, and a new restaurant there about to open is just another example.

To the north, along Highway 225, Pasadena began with a backdrop of refineries. To the south, there is the new part of the city and it's growing. You may see dirt but the city sees.

"Sales tax, employment, job security for engineers," said Robin Green with Pasadena's public works department.

The Beltway has spurred development. At Crenshaw, there's a growing complex of hospitals and health care. On Fairmont, there is road widening, along with retail and restaurants. The Magnolia Cafe opened four years ago and it's been busy ever since.

"Pasadena has a strong economy, as far as disposable income, it's a very strong place to have a business," the cafe's owner Karen Kendrick said.

It's a place where people gather. A lot of them remember the city as it once was. Dolly Talmadge grew up in north Pasadena.

"It was just small and hadn't extended out here, so this is all big city to me," she said.

From strawberry patches to industrial town and now something more -- an enclave of seven-figure homes that speak to that disposable income. To attract more people, there's talk about developing land by the convention center, perhaps an amphitheater with water features.

In the meantime, even churches are expanding and more restaurant franchises are opening along the Beltway. There's so much activity the city says no more large acreage is available for subdivisions.

The area's growing up and out, and Talmadge can see the future coming.

"All these new apartment complexes, so it's going to be huge," Talmadge said.

At least two restaurants are scheduled to open within the next month.

And if you think it's busy now, wait until the Panama Canal expansion is complete. The port will generate even more business in the area.

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