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Road trippers drive restaurant growth

With lower gas prices in 2015, more Americans are hitting the road for their travels. According to AAA, about 60 percent of Americans plan to take a road trip of 50 miles or more in 2015. Among the markets that have made the biggest jumps in the RGI rankings:

1. Brownwood, Texas

This location jumped 196 spots to No. 382 in 2015. Routes 84, 67 and 377 all pass through this quiet community.

2. Albuquerque, N.M.

This location rose 182 rungs in the ranking to No. 319. The area sits along Route 66—one of America’s most iconic road-trip routes. The growing popularity of neighboring Santa Fe as a tourist destination also contributed to Albuquerque’s rise.

3. Plainview, Texas

This location leapt 166 spots to No. 391. It is between Lubbock and Amarillo along Routes 27 and 70. Cargill was one of the largest employers in Plainview, but when its beef-processing plant closed in 2013, many laid-off workers relocated. Its rankings jump is evidence of recovery.

4. Gillette, Wyo.

This location improved from No. 502 in 2014 to 350 in 2015. Gillette is a major coal-mining center that has experienced huge population growth over the last 15 years. In addition to employment opportunities, Gillette draws visitors on their way to Keyhole State Park.

5. Picayune, Miss.

This location took the No. 486 spot in 2015—up from No. 630 in 2014. The area was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, greatly impacting residents and local businesses. Recovery has been challenging, but this climb in the rankings is proof of its rebound. 

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