LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska’s capital city is seeing a boom in chain restaurants.
Work began this week on a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1KdjKcM ) Saturday. Franchise owner Ron Oberg said it will be a new concept store that likely will be the biggest Freddy’s restaurant in the country, with seating for more than 150 people and a double drive-thru.
He hopes to have the restaurant open by mid-November.
It’ll be another in a string of restaurants recently opened or soon to be opened in Lincoln, including Chick-fil-A, BurgerFi, and Dunkin’ Donuts. The list also includes Las Vegas-based sandwich chain Capriotti’s, Arkansas-based Slim Chickens and Ohio-based grilled cheese and tomato soup shop Tom+Chee. Several other restaurants already established in Lincoln are expanding.
Lincoln is likely benefiting from the growth of fast-casual restaurants. Fast-casual restaurant sales were up nearly 11 percent in 2014 compared with 2013, while overall restaurant sales grew less than 4 percent, said Mary Chapman, senior director of product innovation for Chicago-based food industry consulting firm Technomic Inc.
Richard Meginnis, executive vice president with NAI FMA Realty, said Lincoln’s status as a non-major metropolitan area helps it, because a lot of restaurant chains have not had those markets on their expansion map before.
Lincoln’s low unemployment and the presence of three colleges _ including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln _ that offer a steady influx of college students also help, said Jim Hogg, a Lincoln-based franchise consultant.
“It’s a pretty stable market to come into,” Hogg said.