May 16, 2002
Hoosier state's the place if you hunger for restaurant meal
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Indiana's $6 billion annual restaurant business is successful across the board, particularly in the fast food and casual dining categories, says a Purdue University hospitality and tourism management expert.
"The general theory is that a nationwide restaurant franchise will do much better than average in Indiana," says Carl Braunlich, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management. "This is the heartland, where families do more things together as a group. One of the things to do is to have a meal in a restaurant."
One of the places Braunlich says Hoosiers like to eat is Pizza Hut. Of the chain's 7,700 restaurants, eight of the top 10 outlets in sales volume are in Indiana, including the chain's No. 1 restaurant in Kendallville. All the leading sales volume restaurants are operated by franchiser Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne, which has a total of 44 Indiana Pizza Huts.
John Livengood, president of the state's Restaurant and Hospitality Association, says the reason franchises do well in Indiana could be due to a number of factors.
"I'm not privy to all state restaurants' financial statements, but I'd conjecture the number of miles of interstate and exits are part of the high sales numbers," Livengood says. "Also, media markets are more affordable here than elsewhere in the nation, so restaurants can get television exposure, and franchises choose the inexpensive media market to roll out new products."
Livengood says in addition to Pizza Hut, MacDonald's and KFC do very well in Indiana, as do company-owned, multi-unit casual dining operations, such as Red Lobster, the Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steakhouse, Steak 'n Shake and Bob Evans.
On the fine dining side, Livengood says downtown Indianapolis is home to some of the top national sales grossing high-end restaurant chains.
"Within blocks of the Circle Centre Mall, there are four high-end restaurant chain operations that are tops in sales in their franchises," he says. "They are Buca di Beppo, Palomino Euro Bistro, PF Chang's China Bistro and Ruth's Chris Steak House."
And critics also rank Indianapolis' high-end restaurants high on the list. Indianapolis' Something Different restaurant was recently named to the Restaurant News Hall of Fame.
"Another downtown restaurant, St. Elmo Steak House, an independent, is one of the top 100 revenue-grossing restaurants in the country," Livengood says.
Writer: J.M. Lillich, (765) 494-2077, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Carl Braunlich, (765) 494-8031, email@example.com
John Livengood, (317) 673-4200, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com