Richmond has 3rd highest number of fast food restaurants

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When you think of Richmond, you probably think of historic sites and the James River. You might not think fast food restaurants. But Richmond has the third highest number of fast food restaurants per capita in the country.

The periodical "The Daily Beast" asked the NDP Group to find out which cities have the most fast food restaurants per 100,000 people. Orlando, Florida came in first, Louisville, Kentucky was second, and Richmond was third. So we wanted to know why Richmonders love the drive through.

If you want food fast, you can find it in Richmond. There are 274 fast food joints. Owners say it's the busy Richmond lifestyle.

Explained Subway restaurant owner Leland Lewis, "I think Richmond has a high density of professional people as well as people with very busy lifestyles, a lot of children participating in activities. So people want a variety and they want the convenience of not having to go home and prepare food."

The common theme among high volume fast food cities is tourism. Orlando's theme parks attract hungry visitors. And experts say Richmond's history and events do too.

Said Katie Hellebush with Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association, "Look at the Picasso exhibit and what its bringing to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Richmond area. We offer Nascar. I think this weekend, we've got the tournament for the CAA, so lots going on."

Don't forget, Richmonder's just plain love restaurants. The city's location on interstates 95 and 64 helps. So does Virginia's lower business taxes. Said Hellebush, "I think the restaurant industry in general flourishes in Richmond. Virginia has been consistently ranked a great place to do business the past 3-5 years. Richmond certainly fits into that."

The most numerous fast food chain in Richmond is Subway, some say because customers want healthier options. Said owner Leland Lewis, "Fresh veggies on the sandwiches. Subway is popular because we are an approved brand for many diet programs."

So that's the "why." But does Richmond have too many fast food restaurants? Or will they continue to grow?

Said Hellebush, "In Virginia, the restaurant industry employs over 340,000 people and I expect them to increase that by 10 percent over the next few years. I know some companies are planning on doing some hiring this spring and this summer."

Nationwide, the number of fast food restaurants has increased by five percent over the last five years.

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