Local Restaurant Development Ideas


A recent QSR article highlighted a new trend about how local food service operators are finding a place in what was otherwise a chain-saturated market. In the article, San Francisco International Airport was highlighted as model of success for bringing local businesses to unexpected local hubs. In 2005, the airport did away with exclusively contracting through a large concessionaire company and began courting local vendors to open food service counters and restaurants in its terminals. The result – sales shot up 55 percent and the airport holds the second place national ranking in average customer spending.

What happened in San Francisco is no fluke. And it’s a strategy that can be applied beyond big cities and tourist towns.

Seasonal and logical points of interest can generate a lot of traffic from a captive audience. Consider the places and spaces that see frequent activity from both local and transient customers.


Bring your local menu items to those who may otherwise miss out on what makes your hometown so great. Municipal and international airports all have a need for quality food vendors in their terminal areas, however setting up shop may involve a competitive proposal process. Business opportunities are typically outlined by the airport’s management company and can often be found on the airport’s website. One example is found in Denver International Airport’s Business Center webpage, which has a concessions section with a comprehensive list of how to get started and when open houses are available for new opportunities.

Related Learning: Proper Planning: The Best Way to Start Your Concession Business

Summer Fairs

Farmer’s markets, art fairs, and local festivals are all fantastic locations for local restaurants to set up shop in a tent, food cart or food truck. Although this is a temporary business model, it will bring attention to your business and can attract new customers to your main restaurant.

Related Learning: Selecting Profitable Events for Your Concession Stand 

Local Hot Spots

Is there a local beach, campground, recreational area, business center or office park that swarms with potential customers in your area? Consider starting a mobile catering business or food truck that can set up near picnic or recreational areas. Many birthdays, family reunions and a variety of other gatherings occur in municipal hot spots throughout the warmer months of the year. Be sure to check with your local restaurant licensing and permits before embarking on this venture.

Related Learning: Resources for Booking Venues for Your Concession Stand

Create new pathways and look for a food service void to fill in your local area. Bring your business to customers who are looking for a local alternative to the expected options. And be sure to do your homework and learn the local codes and regulations before embarking on a new location. Work with area officials or organizations and make your food service business a success.


About Author

Maggie Henderson

Maggie Henderson is the Director of Marketing at FoodServiceWarehouse.com, a pescetarian and a newly minted DIY and home cook extraordinaire.

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