Report: restaurant-friendly neighborhoods

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A new study from Bid on Equipment reveals the 50 best cities in the US to start a new restaurant, reports Frances Ball

How do you begin to decide where to open a new restaurant? Bid on Equipment, an Illinois-based platform for buying and selling used machinery, has published findings from their research on the best cities in the US in which to do just that. Of course, questions of branding, menu and staffing all go into working out how to run a new restaurant. Before that, though, four other factors need to be balanced out to determine where to set up shop.

What are the annual restaurant sales per capita in each city? How much competition would there be in that town? What’s the median income for people living there? How many industry workers already live there? Those four questions together determined how each city was measured, with each factor weighted by points: sales were the heaviest weighted at 50 points, and worker numbers the least at 10 points.

Bid on Equipment compared 236 cities with a population of more than 100,000 and uncovered the top 50, which they ranked in order.

Top of the podium

Perhaps unsurprisingly, both sides of the Potomac River take high spots in the ranks. Arlington, VA takes first place while Washington, D.C. takes third having been beaten by Ann Arbor, MI.

Arlington is famous as the home of the Pentagon, and a combination of healthy restaurant sales per capita and high median incomes in the area contribute to its spot in the top. Despite relatively stiff competition from other restaurants picking up on the honeypot around the capital, Arlington looks set to be a good bet for investment.

What happens in Vegas

Paradise, NV takes 28th place in the lists. The heavy tourism in the area is a notable balance to the median income factor, which is relatively low in comparison to results on the rest of the list and reflects local income rather than the money brought in by tourism. For the restaurant trade in Nevada that tourism income can only be a good thing.

Paradise has a huge number of industry workers per capita – 11,164, to be precise. It borders Las Vegas and hosts most of the infamous Las Vegas Strip, so despite having a median income in the middling range of the cities on the list, it brings in restaurant sales per capita of $7,889. That figure is the highest on the ranking, and is more than four times the amount taken in Virginia Beach, VA.

What to choose?

The rankings offer a comprehensive balance between the major factors that need to go into your decision-making. Some places offer the appealing benefit of relatively low competition: Houston, TX and Lakewood, CO are both comparatively unsaturated by restaurants.

High median incomes in major cities like Boston might draw your attention despite the strong competition from other restaurants. Alternatively, the high number of available workers and healthy restaurant sales in Orlando, FL might tip your favor toward the Sunshine State.

There are many decisions that go into choosing where to set up a restaurant, but the balanced and weighted factors of Bid on Equipment’s list offer a clear guide for prospective restaurant owners.

You can read the full report and see the ranked 50 cities, here.

Frances Ball


Pictured: Rosslyn, Arlington, VA skyline on the Potomac River