How driving ruins local flavor

Author Joe Cortright

Yesterday, we used data compiled by Yelp on chain and independent restaurants to compute the market share of chains in the nation’s largest metro areas. Overall, about a quarter of all restaurants are part of a chain, but that fraction varies widely across metro areas. We think that a high market share of independent restaurants is likely a good indicator of a thriving and diverse food scene, and is a strong amenity for many metro areas.

We also noted that there’s a strong correlation between places that have more restaurants per capita and places that have a larger market share of independent restaurants. Consumers in metros with a higher share of independent restaurants have both more varied dining choices and more total dining choices, on average, that consumers living in metros with a higher share of chain restaurants.

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