Each week William F. Gomez & Co. makes more than 3,000 pounds of pasta in the lobby of the Olive Garden Restaurant where hordes of hungry folk crowd daily.

They wait . . . and wait . . . to eat lunch and dinner.Located next to Fashion Place Mall, the local Garden is one of the top five busiest among the chain's 240 nationwide.

Food - those hearty red sauces, melt-in-your-mouth garlic bread sticks and a minestrone soup Mama Leone would savor - no doubt contributes to the restaurant's popularity.

But Gomez says his menu alone doesn't attract the multitudes.

"Sure, we think we're really good at what we do. We are also aware of the wants and needs of the community, and we try hard to involve ourselves in the community," said Gomez, restaurant general manager. "Plus, we think it's certainly a good location for us."

The Olive Garden, sitting at the intersection of I-15 and I-215, is in Murray - a city that's experienced a blockbuster business boom during the past 13 months.

"This has been the biggest (business) growth period as far as employees and sales-tax generation for the city since the opening of Fashion Place Mall about 20 years ago," said Don Whetzel, director of finance and administration. "We are generating an additional $600,000 to $700,000 each year in local option sales tax."

Big businesses that recently set up shop in Murray - generating at least 500 new jobs in the process - include AutoZone, Price Savers, Buff-N-Puff, Toys 'R Us, Kids 'R Us, BizMart, Payless Shoesource and Wagonmaster Steakhouse & Convention Center.

A lavish Lexus showroom moved in among miles of automobile dealerships along Murray's State Street, and Larry Miller's Chevrolet/Geo dealership has undergone a major renovation.

With the exception of auto dealers, most Murray businessmen had an above average year, said Murray Mayor Lynn Pett.

"In fact, after Christmas a lot of the managers indicated they are doing exceptionally well. Toys 'R Us told me they were No. 1 in sales in their region."

According to Pett, the influx of new companies isn't the result of any Chamber of Commerce campaign, advertising Murray as the banner place to do business.

"People have been coming to us, asking to locate here. A lot of positive incentives bring them here," Pett said.

Whetzel and Pett list low property tax rates, low franchise taxes, competitive power rates, good location, and excellent services - good water, road, police, fire, power - as incentives bringing business to Murray.

"The biggest attraction is that Murray is a nice residential area - with a good blend of businesses," Pett said.

But residents should bask in the boon while the basking's good. The business upswing can't continue for ever.

"Murray's 10 square miles is close to being built out and the City Council hasn't been receptive to annexation in the past, so we don't expect to annex in the future," Whetzel said.