Olive Branch, a city in DeSoto County in Mississippi, bears the impressive distinction of having been the fastest-growing city in the United States between 1990 and 2010, with a staggering growth rate of 838 percent. Most of this growth can be attributed to the high number of middle-class people who relocated from the center of Memphis, transforming Olive Branch into the ninth-largest city in Mississippi.
Located 20 miles south of Memphis, the neighborhood has flourished since the exodus began, seeing its population grow from a modest 642 people to almost 33,500 residents. Growth continues today thanks to the low crime rate, affordable houses, small-town feel and highly ranked school system, as well as new employment opportunities thanks to the Metro Industrial Park and Olive Branch Industrial Park.
Restaurants & Nightlife
You can expect to enjoy top class comfort and Southern-style food in Olive Branch at restaurants dotted throughout the neighborhood, along with a few international offerings featuring cuisines such as Italian, Mexican and Thai.
Visit Sidestreet Burgers, where chef Jonathan Mah runs a one-man operation where he is also dishwasher, waiter and cashier. Order your burger at the counter, request toppings including mozzarella, sauteed onions or a fried egg, then head to the toppings bar to dress your dish with veggies, house-made sauces and sesame seed cufflinks – add a side such as garlic potato wedges or Cincinnati chillat to round out the meal.
To indulge in southern traditions with fast food-style speed, visit Abbays, a drive-through, dine-in or takeout joint with three locations around the Memphis area. Create a meat plate with your choice of entrees such as chicken and dumplings, baked fish or country fried steak, then add sides, including turnip greens, black-eyed peas, fried potatoes or macaroni and cheese.
For Chinese dishes and Japanese sushi, head to East Wind, a family-owned business that also offers takeout or delivery. Try a lunch special from the Chinese menu, served with roast pork fried rice and your choice of a wonton, egg roll or soup, or try one of the chef's specialties, including sesame beef or chicken and shrimp and pork Hunan style. Alternatively, select from an extensive sushi menu featuring specialty sushi rolls such as the Crazy Roll, with shrimp tempura and salmon on top.
Nightlife options can also be found scattered throughout the neighborhood, with The Crossing Bar & Grill offering karaoke and live music. Try fish and chips at the Dan McGuinness Pub, or play a game or two at Brady's Pool Room.
History & Culture
The first Olive Branch settlers, Stephen Flinn and Milton Blocker, arrived in 1836, having purchased over a thousand acres of land from Chickasaw chief Lush-Pun-Tubby for $1,600. Its name was established in 1846, when a descendant of one of the founders suggested it as a way to symbolize the Biblical story of Noah. Olive Branch escaped the destruction of the Civil War and was incorporated as a town in 1874. Its population remained low until the explosive growth of the 1990s, when development and infrastructure saw a host of jobs, industries and people flock to DeSoto County.
Visit Wesson House, one of just three dedicated Mississippi landmarks in the county, to view a historic home dating from the 1800s. Book your calendar for the annual Crawfish Music Festival and yearly golf tournaments within the neighborhood, or visit ARTS in the Alley on Old Towne Main Street.
Aside from Olive Branch Airport, one of the busiest in Mississippi, you won't find any public transportation within this neighborhood. A span of 36 square miles and limited infrastructure for pedestrians make walking difficult, but plenty of cycling trails make using a bicycle a popular option.
Locals usually rely on personal vehicle, traveling between neighborhoods and toward the city using U.S. Highway 78, which runs straight through the center of Olive Branch. You'll find limited on-street parking, mostly for use by the customers of local businesses. Ride-share services such as Uber do not operate in the area, and you won't be able to hail a taxi, but you can still call for a ride from one of several local taxi companies.
Unsurprisingly for a boom town with extensive infrastructure and amenities, you can expect to pay more to live in Olive Branch than you would elsewhere in Mississippi. On the other hand, while Olive Branch comes in at around 10 percent above the surrounding area in terms of living costs, it is still around 7 percent lower than the national average. The median rental cost sits at around $700 for a one-bedroom residence, while you can expect to pay approximately $8 for a glass of beer at a local pub. The price of gasoline sits at 8 percent lower than the national average.
Clustered toward the center of the neighborhood, you will find an interesting range of eclectic local stores and boutiques to browse. Pop into Purple Pickle to browse a quirky range of jewelry, accessories, sunglasses and knick-knacks. Try Paisley Pineapple for fashion, interior decor and unique gifts, including pottery, candles and picture frames. Host a private party, or just try your hand at a new artistic technique at Let's Paint Inc., or visit Cowboy Corner for Western-style boots, clothing and accessories.
Grocery shopping options range from Walmart and Piggly Wiggly to local convenience stores and grocery markets. Find the closest farmers market to the north of the neighborhood on Winchester Road; the Winchester Farmer's Market stocks local produce as well as ingredients for ethnic cooking in Asian, West Indian, Mexican and Caribbean cuisines.
Within the city of Olive Branch, you'll find plenty of green spaces and community parks to keep you occupied when the weather is fine. The 135-acre Olive Branch City Park includes three lakes and a half-mile nature trail for dog walkers, as well as 2 miles of walking trails with exercise stations. Kids will enjoy the playground and three ball-field complexes, while exercise enthusiasts head to the five tennis courts, and families relax at the scenic overlook or enjoy a picnic in the pavilions. The pavilion and amphitheater are both available to reserve for a full day and often host musical performances and other shows.
Magnolia Community Park, the first recognized urban forest in the State of Mississippi, provides a half-mile multipurpose trail alongside a playground and picnic tables, while Southridge Community Park includes a playground with safety surfacing, picnic tables, benches and a baseball practice area with backstop.