The publication reports that strong economy, lively downtown venue and niche cuisines have improved the restaurant business.

The Spokane Journal of Business reports that taxable retail sales for fullservice restaurants in Spokane County rose to roughly $240 million last year, up from $213.5 million in 2005 for a gain of 12.9%, according to the Washington state Department of Revenue. Sales were $199.8 million in 2004.

The number of restaurants grew in calendar year 2006 to 346, up from 315 in 2005, according to sales-tax records. In the most recent available figures, sales for the first quarter of this year reached roughly $61 million, up from $56.8 million in the year-earlier period, and the number of restaurants grew to 315 in the first quarter, up from 287 last year.

The publication pointed out that since the number of new restaurants has been keeping pace with sales growth, the pie is getting bigger, but competition is slicing pieces smaller, restaurateurs have been saying.


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