Top States for Full-Service Restaurant Growth

 

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

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Louisiana

Population: 4,533,372

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 10.0%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 2,930

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 64.6

Louisiana Restaurant Association: www.lra.org

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 3.3%

Business Tax Index: 34.674

Unemployment: 7.0%

Median Household Income: $39,443

Louisiana restaurateur Darryl Reginelli, who owns eight Reginelli’s Pizzerias spread from the New Orleans metro area to Baton Rouge, says restaurant operators are increasingly recognizing the allure of the Pelican State.

“Many restaurants are setting up shop here, expanding, and still in growth mode,” Reginelli says. “If you’re a quality operator, Louisiana’s a great place to seed and gain credibility in the industry.”

Louisiana Restaurant Association President and CEO Stan Harris says Louisiana features an attractive business climate with favorable operating costs and abundant local products, such as seafood, that become menu centerpieces and heighten the area’s culinary distinctiveness.

“Louisiana has a vibrant and long history of unique culinary offerings with a culture of hospitality that encourages industry expansion,” Harris says.

Toss in the NRA-estimated 3.3 percent increase in restaurant sales and it’s easy to see Louisiana’s appeal.

“We might not be the powerhouse of some other states because we’re not the wealthiest state, but folks here will spend on restaurants,” Reginelli says.

Though Reginelli says the northern end of the state can be quite conservative with its liquor laws, he says Louisiana is nevertheless “fairly easy to come in, open, and operate” a restaurant.

Maryland

Population: 5,773,552

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 6.4%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 3,083

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 53.4

Restaurant Association of Maryland: www.marylandrestaurants.com

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 3.7%

Business Tax Index: 40.052

Unemployment: 6.6%

Median Household Income: $64,025

Dan Stone, vice president of franchise development for Front Burner Brands, the restaurant management company for The Melting Pot Restaurants, says the brand’s four Maryland-based Melting Pot locations continue to thrive given a stable economic climate and a growing state population.

Dan Stone, vice president of franchise development for Front Burner Brands, the restaurant management company for The Melting Pot Restaurants, says the nation’s economic downturn has not impacted his company’s four Maryland-based Melting Pot locations as it has Melting Pot eateries in other spots across the nation.

“Our Maryland locations continue to perform well,” Stone says, adding: “The housing markets in Maryland remain robust, and the state continues to grow in population … at a time when many state’s populations are, or are projected to be, flat or retracting.”

Indeed, Maryland, often overlooked among other Northeast powerhouses of greater size and repute, boasts a number of compelling characteristics supporting restaurant growth. The population is growing, unemployment is low, sales are projected to grow 3.7 percent in 2012, and there exists an increasing sense of community that binds businesses to one another and to residents.

“We have an ever-growing connection to other businesses in the area [and] have seen tremendous outreach from the medical and biotechnology community … that have helped to work with us as a local business to create unique experiences for our guests,” says Stacy Baird, general manager of the Chop House restaurant in Annapolis.

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