Top States for Full-Service Restaurant Growth

 

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

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South Carolina

Population: 4,625,364

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 14.5%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 3,308

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 71.5

South Carolina Hospitality Association: www.schospitality.org

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 3.6%

Business Tax Index: 29.712

Unemployment: 9.6%

Median Household Income: $41,709

Though often residing in the shadow of its hard-charging northern counterpart, South Carolina claims a number of compelling traits that push it into the upper echelon and make it a desired spot for restaurant growth.

According to the NRA, South Carolina restaurant sales are expected to grow 3.6 percent in 2012, among the nation’s top projected increases. A 14.5 percent rise in population from 2010 to 2020, meanwhile, places South Carolina in the nation’s top 10 for that metric as well.

Yet the numbers alone don’t share the full story.

Born in the Carolinas, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza claims a pair of outlets in South Carolina. Brixx Franchise Systems President Neil Newcomb cites year-round tourism, a moderate climate that promotes outdoor dining, and an upstart culinary scene, including a growing presence of craft breweries, as additional reasons for full-service operators to be bullish on South Carolina.

“Over the past 20 years, the Sun Belt states have experienced a tremendous influx of new residents, particularly those from the Northeast looking to enjoy the weather and lower costs of living," Newcomb says.

Texas

Population: 25,145,561

Projected Population Gain by 2020: 19.8%

Number of Full-Service Restaurants: 15,086

Full-Service Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: 60.0

Texas Restaurant Association: www.restaurantville.com

Projected 2012 Growth in Restaurant Sales: 4.1%

Business Tax Index: 12.126

Unemployment: 7.4%

Median Household Income: $47,464

Plenty of buzz surrounds the Lone Star State, which leads the nation in a few notable metrics, including a projected 4.1 percent growth in 2012 restaurant sales and an expected jump of 17 percent in foodservice employment within the next decade.

In spite of rapid residential growth throughout the state, Texans are—somewhat surprisingly—not inundated with restaurants. At 60 full-service restaurants for every 100,000 residents, Texas has fewer eateries per capita than all but nine other states.

Texas Restaurant Association CEO Richie Jackson says Texas claims a strong economy, a stronger workforce, and a pro-business mindset that supports business development. Texas, in fact, holds the runner-up spot to South Dakota in the SBEC’s 2011 Business Tax Index.

“Our business-friendly regulatory environment allows entrepreneurs … to prosper and grow their businesses,” Jackson says.

Add in favorable land costs, a stable housing environment, and projections that Texas will top 30 million residents by 2020, and it’s clear why Texas and restaurant growth go hand-in-hand.

“Businesses go where the rooftops are, and we have a lot of rooftops in Texas,” says Ricardo Molina, who operates three Molina’s Cantinas eateries in the Houston area.

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