Top States for Full-Service Restaurant Growth

 
Where should restaurant chains go to expand? Look at these states.

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Colorado

Population: 5,029,196

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 18.7%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 4,236

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 84.2

Colorado Restaurant Association: www.coloradorestaurant.com

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 3.5%

Business Tax Index: 28.010

Unemployment: 7.9%

Median Household Income: $60,442

Buoyed by stable industries, including tourism, aerospace, telecommunications, and energy, Colorado has avoided wild swings in its economy and has, in fact, shown consistent annual growth in key metrics. Colorado is expected to add up to 1 million residents over the next decade, and the NRA predicts DPI to rise by 2.7 percent in 2012.

More than 300 days of annual sunshine doesn’t hurt either, says Colorado Restaurant Association CEO Pete Meersman.

“We have a healthy population that spends plenty of time outdoors [and] our restaurants are busy year-round,” Meersman says.

Mark Berzins, who runs 19 full-service units in the Denver metro area under the Little Pub company umbrella, says restaurateurs in Colorado, particularly of the independent variety, are bullish.

“People here are not pulling in their horns,” Berzins says. “Restaurant spaces are getting gobbled up, new restaurants are opening, and food spending has held up in spite of the economy.”

Sitting in between the coasts, Berzins adds, gives Colorado a culinary sophistication and invites the influences and experiences from other spots throughout the country to take root and attract diners in the Centennial State.

“When it comes to food, there’s a sense of adventure here,” Berzins says.

Florida

Population: 18,801,310

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 6.6%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 16,071

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 85.5

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association: www.frla.org

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 3.9%

Business Tax Index: 23.320

Unemployment: 9.9%

Median Household Income: $44,243


Hooters has more than 50 locations in Florida including its first-ever outlet, which opened in Clearwater in 1983.

Florida has one eye-popping number no other state can match: 85 million. That’s the number of visitors Florida annually welcomes across its state lines.

“We’re the Sunshine State, and there’s a strong effort across the state to make sure people keep coming here,” says Carol Dover, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association president and CEO.

Propelled by Florida’s nation-leading tourism numbers, restaurant spending is expected to jump 3.9 percent in 2012, a leap trailing only the 4.1 percent increases forecast in North Dakota and Texas. DPI is also projected to rise 3 percent, among the nation’s highest estimated increases.

With big cities, such as Orlando, Miami, and Tampa, teeming with residents, convention business, global tourism destinations, and “snowbird” residents, Florida has a number of the key elements that historically support the hospitality sector.

“Florida’s a dynamic state with a tremendous mix of entertainment, recreational attractions, beaches, and more,” Dover says.

Outside of some regulatory challenges that can quickly double the payroll line of Florida eateries, including the fact that Florida servers must be paid a cash wage of $4.65 per hour, a figure double that of the federal rate of $2.13, Dover says Florida is relatively a “pro-business state that wants to see its businesses thrive.”

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