ARIZONA CAN PROUDLY CALL ITSELF A “FOODIE STATE”
Locals crowned their state as such years ago. But now, people from all over the country and world are catching up. Tourists are flocking to Arizona to see what the buzz is about and they are greeted with open arms and menus from nearly 9,000 restaurants.
Thanks to the residents of Arizona and the tourists who vacation here, our state is slated to see a 4.9 percent increase in restaurant sales in 2014, which gives Arizona the nation’s biggest increase. This impressive growth will put the 2014 restaurant industry income for Arizona at $11 billion, the equivalent economic impact of hosting two Super Bowls a month.
The growing restaurant industry also brings a tremendous number of jobs to Arizona. Currently, the restaurants of Arizona employ 265,000 people, representing 11 percent of our state’s labor market. These numbers are expected to continue to grow over the next nine years. By 2023, it is projected that there will be nearly 42,000 new jobs in the restaurant industry.
| WELCOMED COMPETITION|
With their sights set on a continually growing restaurant industry, restaurants in Arizona have been working hard to bring diners the eating experience they desire. For some, that may be the neighborhood local eatery. For others, that may be the chain restaurant they are familiar with. “They both have their place,” said Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association. Local restaurants and chain restaurants offer different things to consumers, making the growth in both types of restaurants strong in Arizona. “Phoenix is a hub to test chain restaurants,” said Lucia Schnitzer, owner Luci’s Healthy Marketplace, a neighborhood favorite in Phoenix. Schnitzer said she doesn’t see chain restaurants as competition. A Dunkin’ Donuts is scheduled to open across the street from her eatery and Schnitzer sees it as a sign of her business’s success. “It’s a real compliment when I see a chain restaurant want to build next to mine,” she said.
ADAPTING TO DINERS
| said that offering local beer is a big factor in the draw of people to her Camelback Twin Peaks. However, Vangelos goes further and makes it a point to use local produce company Stern whenever possible. Vangelos recognizes the importance and popularity of local food not only to her customers, but also feels it herself. “Some of my favorite restaurants are local restaurants,” she said. And the same can be said for the majority of people today. This is reflected in the increasing number of independent restaurants in today’s economy. Chucri estimated that 65 percent of food establishments in Arizona are independent and 35 percent are chain restaurants.|