Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Restaurant Rumors: Owners speak out on plans to locate in Minden


The chain restaurant rumor mill is constantly running in Minden. And as of now, that's all it is – just rumor.

Officials from Chili's, Applebee's, Whataburger, Raising Canes, Starbucks and Cracker Barrel confirmed there are no upcoming planned locations in Minden. Burger King also confirmed there is no plan for a restaurant in Springhill.

Attempts to reach officials with IHOP and Monjunis were unsuccessful.

"I don't know if I can say never, but right now we (Applebee's) are just not expanding," Barry Beam, vice president of Apple Arkansas and El Chico restaurants of Arkansas, said.

"We're waiting for the economy to play out."

Whataburger may have been a possibility several months ago when a developer had an option to purchase a piece of property for a client who builds the franchise as well as Wendy's and Burger King, City of Minden Building Official Brent Cooley said.

"They just had an option on the property for so many days," Cooley said. "Nobody ever talked to Whataburger. There's nothing in the works."

The Chili's and Applebee's rumors seem to be the ones constantly buzzing, but unless there's a population boom by the thousands, neither will probably happen.

"There's so many different things that go into it – big employers, the population is obviously the big one, county seats, competition, (the option to serve) alcohol," Beam said.

The typical process in restaurant location starts with a developer purchasing or acquiring an option to purchase property and propositioning franchisers, Cooley said. Then the developer through a realtor would negotiate with the property owner.

"Quite often the deal is done before anybody knows about it," Cooley said, adding even he may not know unless there is a question concerning the zoning of the property.

The Minden-based Fleming Group operates 36 Subway restaurants across north Louisiana. Fleming Group President and city councilman Mike Toland said large chain restaurants generally look for a population upwards of 20,000 people.

Minden's population was 13,082, according to the 2010 Census.

"The only way we are going to get good restaurants, a skating rink, a bowling alley is to increase population," Toland said. "The only way we are going to increase population is to bring in jobs, but there's a limited amount of housing and a limited amount of land."

Preferred location is also unique to each restaurant's needs. Some may be interested in being convenient to neighborhoods while others desire easy highway access.

In locating a new Subway, Toland looks for areas with high traffic volumes.

"We need to be where people are going to be during the day," he said. "I need lunch business near where people work. But a pizza restaurant can be successful in the neighborhood because they can be on the home side of the road."

Other factors include proximity to other restaurants and accessibility, but as far as locating in Minden, it still comes down to population.

"We're not too close to Bossier," Toland said. "There are a lot of places like in Houston where (individual restaurant) locations are three or four miles apart there's so much population. They would come if we had the population to serve them, but we don't have the house tops in Minden."






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