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The Top Growth Markets for Restaurant Expansion

With growth in the restaurant industry concentrated among fast casual chains, this segment remains the industry darling.

In order to stay competitive and relevant, casual dining operators and quick service restaurants are attempting to transform themselves through “fast casualization” processes.

As this evolution of the restaurant industry unfolds, restaurant brands are looking for the best markets to grow their concepts.

By combining and analyzing restaurant density, traffic growth, and population growth, QSR magazine was able to identify and rank the top 40 markets across the country that are best poised for restaurant growth and unit expansion.

So where is the greatest market opportunity?

QSR divided the rankings into 3 categories:

Top Large Markets

  1. Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN
  2. Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Tampa – St. Petersburg – Sarasota, FL
  4. Raleigh – Durham, NC
  5. Miami – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  6. Orlando – Daytona Beach – Melbourne, FL
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Phoenix, AZ
  9. Charlotte, NC
  10. Pittsburgh, PA

Top Medium Markets

  1. Harlingen – Weslaco – Brownsville – McAllen, TX
  2. Tucson – Nogales, AZ
  3. Milwaukee, WI
  4. Columbia, SC
  5. Fresno – Visalia, CA
  6. Des Moines – Ames, IA
  7. Green Bay – Appleton, WI
  8. Louisville, KY
  9. Huntsville-Decatur – Florence, AL
  10. El Paso, TX
  11. Richmond – Petersburg, VA
  12. Buffalo, NY
  13. Ft. Myers – Naples, FL
  14. Shreveport, LA
  15. Memphis, TN

Top Small Markets

  1. Meridian, MS
  2. Greenwood – Greenville, MS
  3. Yuma – El Cenro, AZ-CA
  4. Alpena, MI
  5. Presque Isle, ME
  6. Minot – Bismarck – Dickinson, ND
  7. Monroe – El Dorado, LA-AR
  8. Quincy – Hannibal – Keokuk, IL-MO-IA
  9. Erie, PA
  10. Sioux Falls – Mitchell, SD
  11. Rockford, IL
  12. Alexandria, LA
  13. Macon, GA
  14. Wausau – Rhinelander, WI
  15. Montgomery, AL

Optimize Your Network

For growing restaurants, a substantial capital campaign often coincides with a shift in strategic plan. Suddenly, there’s a new premium placed on applying customer data, analytics and modeling to define, design and market a future footprint.

As restaurants create a new strategic plan, they need to answer some questions.

In mature markets the key question is: Where are the best opportunities to remove or relocate poor performing locations while continuing to in-fill where appropriate?

In growth markets, the key questions are: Where are the optimal sites for new restaurant locations? And, how can we optimally place new locations within both prospective markets and our current markets?

The best way to answer these questions is through a predictive real estate model that takes into account customer profiles, transactions, each location’s performance and broader industry data sets.

The tools provided by the predictive model will allow fast-casual operators to:

  • Benchmark current locations’ performance against model forecasts of how those locations should be performing
  • Optimize existing markets  
  • Forecast the potential for restaurant growth in emerging markets
  • Identify the ultimate number of locations that each market can support
  • Create more targeted marketing campaigns

Want to discover what your top growth markets are and how to reach your U.S. potential? Then let’s talk – we can help.

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