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10 Strongest Retail Markets

source: National Restaurant News

1. Washington, D.C.
2. San Francisco
3. New York City
4. Boston
5. San Diego
6. San Jose/South Bay
7. Baltimore
8. Philadelphia
9. Seattle
10. Pittsburgh

I would agree with Washington, D.C. being number 1. I’ve spoken to several small operators, that are expanding to Washington, D.C. One take and bake pizza concept expanded there and within a year it was their best performing store in the system of about 20.

As a rule, franchisees should try to keep their rent 5-9% of gross sales except indoor malls where you’ll be at about 15%. Recently I was evaluating lease rates in the Chicago downtown loop area, and for a nice spot between 1,200-2,000sf you’ll be paying around $50+sf NNN. Compare that to suburbs of Orlando where you’ll easily grab prime shopping center space for $20-25sf with lots of incentives.

About Ryan Knoll

Attorney and advisor with an interest in franchising. Feel free to email me comments and questions on the "Contact Us" page.


  1. Very nice posts. I was surprised by a couple and by a couple of markets that didn’t make the list. When you get a chance, I’d like your opinion on this question “Should someone who has never owned or run a business consider a franchise?” Here’s how I responded http://tinyurl.com/3ew4csl
    Thanks for the good work.

  2. How come South Florida isn’t on the list?

    • While South Florida is nicely populated, restaurant struggle there. There are a lot of reasons for this. Part I think is cultural and the occupation mix where people are entertaining and going out as much as “big cities”, part is higher population of snow birds, and part is too much competition for the population and business lunch density. I know a lot of restaurants in Florida and have seen a variety of financial statements from Florida…and there really is a huge “killer” town where a decent restaurant is going to pull in $2-3 million in sales, even near Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, FL.

  3. I am seriously considering going into the restaurant franchise business. Since I have no ties, your Top Ten List will definitely help me zero in on a location. You’ve helped me solve one of my biggest concerns.

    Austin, Texas

  4. I am so interested in starting a franchise business, and I was really excited to see San Diego on this list. I already live here, so perfect! I’m actually going to the San Diego Franchise Expo next month. Taking the next step!

  5. This is great information for those looking to expand their franchises around the country. Is Papa Murphy’s the franchisor you’re talking about? Their Take ‘N’ Bake pizza franchise really does seem to be very profitable.

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