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Location Matters Top 25 Cities To Open New Restaurants
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Location Matters Top 25 Cities To Open New Restaurants

While big cities are often thought to be the best locations for new restaurants, budding restaurateurs would be well-served to focus elsewhere, namely, college towns and vacation spots, according to the 2009 Nielsen Claritas Restaurant Growth Index (RGI).  The steady population of students, faculty and other employees, and the flow of visitors make these two types of towns optimal for new restaurants.

For the sixth year in a row, the top location is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, despite its index ranking falling more than 100 points in the last year.  Hot on its heels is Fort Walton beach, Florida, where restaurant spending has increased over the last 12 months.  Rounding out the top five are Flagstaff, Arizona, Atlantic City, New Jersey and Ocean City New Jersey.  Top movers – up and down – were Corpus Christi, Texas, which jumped up 25 points, and Napa, California, which dropped 14 spots.

“Obviously, one must consider a range of factors when determining where to locate a new restaurant.  But the RGI can be a valuable tool that provides a data-based way to evaluate and compare different towns and cities.  One must look at the ranking and the size of the market and then decide which metro area might be best suited for a particular concept,” said Terry Munoz, Vice President at Nielsen Claritas.

The RGI uses a formula to identify restaurant spending and gaps in spending per capita compared to a national average.  The score is calculated on an area’s total restaurant sales and sales as a percent of income, at a per capita level, compared to the nation as a whole.

Top 25 Cities to Open New Restaurants

Rank City/Town
1 Myrtyle Beach, SC
2 Fort Walton Beach, FL
3 Flagstaff, AZ
4 Atlantic City, NJ
5 Ocean City, NJ
6 Las Vegas, NV
7 Honolulu, HI
8 Panama City, FL
9 Valdosta, GA
10 Lafayette, LA
11 Owensboro, KY
12 Orlando, FL
13 Springfield, IL
14 Hattiesburg, MS
15 Barnstable Town, MA
16 Brunswick, GA
17 Missoula, MT
18 Anchorage, AK
19 Santa Fe, NM
20 Casper, WY
21 Corpus Christi, TX
22 Charleston, SC
23 Great Falls, MT
T-24 Burlington, NC
T-24 Billings, MT
Source: Nielsen Claritas 2009