Top States for Full-Service Restaurant Growth

 

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

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Minnesota

Population: 5,303,925

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 7.2%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 3,427

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 64.6

Minnesota Restaurant Association: www.hospitalitymn.com

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 3.1%

Business Tax Index: 54.543

Unemployment: 5.7%

Median Household Income: $52,554

Stephanie Shimp of the Blue Plate Restaurant Co., which oversees seven restaurant concepts in the Twin Cities area and looks to expand further in the coming years, calls Minnesota a “great place to do business.”

“Our guests are highly educated, civically involved, and extremely loyal … [and] rejoice in supporting independents like us,” Shimp says, adding that the workforce is plentiful and the work ethic strong, two elements that support restaurant expansion.

Shimp further identifies a booming arts-and-culture scene, thriving foodie culture, exploding craft beer movement, and regular farmer’s market enclaves as reasons for restaurant operators to be optimistic about Minnesota.

“We still look to the coasts and Chicago for inspiration, but we are not ‘behind’ like we were 10-12 years ago,” Shimp says.

Despite the nation’s highest tax index, a high concentration of Fortune 500 companies combined with a sharp entrepreneurial spirit allowed Minnesota to weather the recession better than most. The state’s low 5.7 percent unemployment rate serves as testament to that reality and Minnesota’s overall stability.

Oklahoma

Population: 3,751,351

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 10.9%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 2,582

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 68.8

Oklahoma Restaurant Association: www.okrestaurants.com

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 3.4%

Business Tax Index: 32.209

Unemployment: 6.3%

Median Household Income: $43,400

Just north of Texas and northwest of Louisiana, two other list-making states, sits Oklahoma, a state rarely considered a culinary hotbed, but unquestionably possessing favorable characteristics for restaurant expansion.

With population expected to grow another 11 percent by 2020, Oklahoma has an influx of residents at the ready, a modest competitive landscape, and stable financial metrics that make it worth a look.

According to the NRA, Oklahoma’s projected 3.7 percent growth in DPI trails only the growth in North Dakota and Wyoming, a sign of the booming prospects in the Sooner State. An expected 3.4 percent jump in 2012 restaurant sales also foretells Oklahoma’s promise.

Furthermore, the state’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate is among the nation’s lowest, spurred in large part by slim unemployment numbers in the state’s two largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

“More people employed and a low cost of living mean more discretionary disposable income in Oklahoma, [thereby] allowing more people to eat out. This obviously leads to more growth in restaurant spending and makes for a good environment for eating out,” says Oklahoma Restaurant Association President and CEO Jim Hopper.

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