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RDU Rolls Out the Red Carpet to New Restaurants, Stores

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — The number of people traveling throughRDU International airportis at anall-time highwith 8.5 million passengers expected before 1999 ends. As a result, airport officials have hired a consulting firm to ask passengers how to improve the facilities. Many suggested adding more shops and food.

Airport officials want to add at least eight new restaurants and shops by the end of 2000 to meet what they say is an increased demand. The manager of the Gormet Bean Coffee shop understands what they mean.

He says he has seen his profits jump from $250 a day in 1995 to about $1,000 today.

Right now RDU officials are putting together a proposal to attract more brand-name businesses, which worries some current tenants like Mark Burnham.

"We are indeed worried about that, but we think our track record will help us," Burnham says. He has run a bookstore at the airport for the past 15 years.

Unfortunately for Burnham, officials say preference will not be given to current tenants.

They also say everyone who submits a proposal must agree to keep prices competitive. "Just as an example, a Burger King Whopper would cost the same at the airport as it would if you pulled off and exit on I-40," airport spokesman Mike Blanton says.

But some passengers say the price is not the problem, the parking is. RDU officials say they are still working on theparking problems, but not exclusively.


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