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Published October 11, 2011, 07:25 PM

GF Restaurants Look to Survive With New, Popular Chains

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - There seems to be a magnet for a number of new restaurant chains. The question some have asked: is the market becoming saturated and can it support them all?

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - There seems to be a magnet for a number of new restaurant chains.

The question some have asked: is the market becoming saturated and can it support them all?

Close to a dozen new restaurants in total will will or have opened in Grand Forks in a short period of time and that could lead to market saturation.

Restaurants JL Beers and Five Guys Burgers and Fries have opened in the last year.

Ruby Tuesday and the Olive Garden being built.

Noodles and Company and Old Chicago have plans for construction.

Is that too many restaurants for the population?

"I don't have any question we have seen that happen already. Mi Mexico is one example. They were open a year, year and a half. And they had a good following. But they are gone," longtime Grand Forks restaurant Italian Moon's owner Ken Towers said.

Towers also owns two other restaurants in town. He believes the market will become over-saturated, but he says chain restaurants will overlook that in a not-so-strong economy.

"You are not going to go somewhere that there is little hope. And there is a lot of hope for people in North Dakota," Towers said.

Towers also says if a chain expands to Fargo, it's likely Grand Forks is a stong candidate because more stores in the area can be economical.

How does an existing restaurant survive being sandwiched between so many others? Arron Hendricks, co-owner of the popular pizza place Rhombus Guys, says they just have to be better than the other guys.

"If they don't adjust their serving practices and their food and their atmosphere, they are going to become antiquated and old and outdated and they are going to lose their customer base," Hendricks said.

Hendricks say not being a chain restaurant adds muscle to their menu.

"I think now that people are starting to appreciate small businesses, stuff that is more unique to their community, more than the big box franchises," Hendricks said.

Hendricks says more restaurants coming to town does have its upsides in that people get in the habit of eating out more and spending more on food and beverages.

And in East Grand Forks, there are a few new offerings as well. Little Bangkok has been a popular Thai food addition, and a newly-renovated Whitey's is slated to open later this month.

A tenant for the closed Applebee's location in East Grand Forks has not been named yet.

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