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D.C. Among Best Cities to Start a Restaurant in the U.S

August 18, 2015
by Jonathan Todd

Opening a new restaurant can be a risky business. Owners need a solid business plan, an efficient yet friendly staff, delicious food and a little bit of luck.

Location is also key to the success of a new eatery. Entering a market that’s oversaturated with dining options or where the population is on the decline can spell disaster for a fledgling restaurant.

There are some markets where demand for new restaurants is high and restaurateurs are thriving. NerdWallet crunched the numbers to help find those places across the nation.

NerdWallet’s analysis

NerdWallet examined 530 cities in the U.S., each with a population of at least 50,000. We used U.S. Census Bureau data to calculate the score for each location based on demand for new restaurants and local economic conditions that could affect the success of those restaurants.

To analyze demand, we looked at population growth and density, and we also factored in median annual income and income growth, as well as restaurant sales per resident and the number of new eateries.

To assess economic conditions, we looked at payroll costs, growth in labor and median monthly housing costs. For more details on our methodology, see the end of this article.

Key takeaways

New residents, new restaurants. Cedar Park, Frisco and Round Rock, Texas; and Fishers, Indiana, each saw population increases of nearly 10% or more in a three-year span. Those new residents helped drive the need for new restaurants. In Cedar Park, for example, where the population jumped over 20%, the number of restaurants more than doubled.

Suburbs drawing new eateries. Nearly all of the top 10 cities are part of a larger metropolitan area, such as Dallas and Austin, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee — cities that have experienced a culinary renaissance, which has been extended to neighboring suburbs.

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