Fast-casual restaurants seize on vacant strip-mall space

More restaurants are eyeing strip-mall space due to price and the
flexibility offered by landlords, Yahoo News reported.

So-called “fast-casual” restaurants, such as Chipotle Mexican Grill,
Panera Bread and Buffalo Wild Wings, are taking advantage of available
space in suburban strip malls nationwide created by the recession.

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Strip-mall space often makes sense for restaurants because they don’t
have to invest in building new locations from the ground up, and
because landlords will often allow them to customize their space
however they need to.

“The fast casual sector has done really well in suburban locations,
and it’s a little easier to find locations in the suburbs right now,”
said Bart Glenn, a restaurant analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co. “Many of
these fast casual restaurants end up in strip centers that either went
out of business or are being repurposed.”

Buffalo Wild Wings recently announced the opening of its 800th
restaurant. Chipotle’s tally of new restaurants opened this year could
top 145, and it expects 155 to 165 in 2012. The company currently has
more than 1,100 restaurants. [Yahoo]