Restaurant customers

Restaurants are the New Retail

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” says Virginia Woolf in “A Room of One’s Own.” And she’s right: Americans now spend more money at restaurants than they do at grocery stores, according to a report, Rise of the Foodie Nation, by JLL.

And, as the report says, U.S. retailers are wisely using food to pull consumers from behind their computers and into the shopping center. In other words, e-commerce cannot satisfy foodie cravings.

A CNBC piece on Cleveland credits the “foodie culture,” mainly driven my millennials, as a force behind a 70 percent jump in the downtown’s population. One of the city’s celebrity chefs, an owner of 10 unique eateries in Cleveland, says restaurants are driving a resurgence of downtown development and employment. As a result, Cleveland vacancies are down and rents are up.

JLL says food-related stores and restaurants remain steady as a noteworthy factor in real estate – in fact, four of the top five expanding retail categories are food related: Restaurant, Fast Food, Retail (with liquor), and Food or Beverage Specialty. Aggregated, these yield a potential retail real estate impact of 55.4 million square feet.

In Phoenix, the revitalization of The Colony is centered on new eateries– mostly local restaurateurs – committed to the project. “Densely populated areas are now more desirable for restaurants and retail businesses than strip centers,” said David Sellers, president of LGE Design Build, to the Phoenix Business Journal.

Large-scale retailers and grocery stores are capitalizing on the so-called foodie nation with in-store restaurants and cafes that not only bring customers in their doors, but keep them there. JLL says that the Tommy Bahama restaurant-retail stores earn twice as much revenue per square foot as those without restaurants, and grocers like Whole Foods, Wegmans and H-E-B offer unique in-store dining options, like fresh seafood counters, breweries and more.

Want to experience the best of the best when it comes to restaurant retail? Fodor’s Travel has published the “7 Best Department Store Restaurants.”

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