Want a new restaurant to succeed? Try a secondary city, new data suggests

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Restaurateurs hunting for their next location may want to start the search in or around Washington, D.C., according to a new ranking of the 50 best places to open a restaurant.

Topping the list is Arlington, Va., the city just across the Potomac from Washington, which was ranked third. Sandwiched in between was Ann Arbor, Mich. 

The list, based on research and analysis from the online equipment seller Bid-on-Equipment, includes a number of recognized dining centers among the top 25 prospects. San Francisco, for instance, is fourth. Boston is seventh, Seattle is ninth, and Scottsdale, Ariz. is 11th. 

But many of the locations are metropolitan areas in the shadows of the cities that dominate the James Beard Awards or annual media lists of  the nation’s best restaurants. Those sister cities include Cambridge, Mass. (No. 6, near Boston); Plano, Texas (No. 8, near Dallas); Bellevue, Wash. (No. 10, near Seattle); and Berkeley, Calif. (No. 38, near San Francisco).

The Big Three restaurant cities—New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—do not appear on the list.

“Cities with growing restaurant scenes, like Austin, Nashville, and Denver, show why aspiring restaurant owners might not want to rule out second- and third-tier cities,” Bid-on-Equipment noted in presenting the data.

The ranking is based on four attributes: Per capita spending on restaurants; the number of restaurants per capita; the number of restaurant workers available per capita; and the median income of residents.


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