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Yes, the Number of Chain Restaurants Is Growing in NYC

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National chains are taking more bets due to more tourism

Chick-fil-A in Manhattan
The Midtown Chick-fil-A
Photo by Serena Dai

Disgruntled NIMBYs are not just imagining it — the number of chain restaurants has gone up in New York City over the last decade.

A new report in Crain’s finds that national chains like Dunkin’ Donuts, Popeyes, and Subway have jumped since 2008. The number of Dunkins has gone up by 75 percent, from 78 in 2008 to 157 in 2016. Chain restaurants now represent about 13 percent of the city’s more than 26,000 restaurants — still a minority, but growing.

New York’s policies, like higher minimum wage and requirements to post salt warnings, theoretically would deter major chains from opening here, but experts tell Crain’s that the city is still a prime market for chain restaurants to grow. Density and foot traffic is still attractively high here, and an increase in tourism means more out-of-towners who will seek out familiar food when in New York.

The typically suburban chains have been adjusting to more urban tastes, too. Taco Bell in particular is taking a huge bet on its new alcohol-imbued restaurants succeeding in New York, with plans to open as many as 50 locations here in the next five years.

The entrance into New York is already paying off for some of the companies. The first NYC location of Chick-fil-A apparently rakes in about $13 million a year in revenue, built off of selling more than 3,000 sandwiches a day. The Atlanta-based fried chicken chain has plan to open a dozen more locations in the city, including a five-story one in FiDi next year.

Take a look at the full report here.

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