Knoxville ranks in top 50 best U.S. cities for opening a restaurant

Knoxville has been named among the top 50 best U.S. cities in which to open a restaurant, coming in at No. 37.

A recent report from Bid-On-Equipment, a restaurant equipment sales company, compiled the rankings based on four main factors: annual restaurant sales per capita, restaurants per capita, workforce and median income in each city. The report analyzed those factors for 236 cities in the United States.

Matt Zajechowski, outreach team lead for Digital Third Coast, said Bid-On-Equipment frequently works with restaurants and restaurant owners, and wanted to provide an "overall look at the restaurant industry."

Sales was given the most weight, followed by number of restaurants per capita, medium income and workforce.

Arlington, Virginia was named the best city to start a restaurant in, followed by Ann Arbor, Michigan, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

"There are a lot of factors that go into opening a restaurant," Zajechowski said.

Competition and demand

The four main factors in the ranking gives an idea about the competition in the area, as well as the demand for restaurants, Zajechowski said.

"If there's a lot of restaurants, it shows there's a demand and there's people going out to eat," Zajechowski said.

Knoxville has $3,794 restaurant sales per capita, 329 restaurants per capita and 8,573 industry workers per capita, according to the list. The median income in Knoxville is $33,494.

Zajechowski said there are several factors about Knoxville that make it stand out from other cities on the list. Knoxville has one of the highest restaurant sales per capita of the cities on the list, higher than most of the cities that are ranked above it.

High sales, high worker count

"Relative to where it's at, the restaurant sales is a big reason why Knoxville is where it's at on the list," Zajechowski said.

Knoxville also has the second-highest number of industry workers per capita, making it "an outlier," Zajechowski said.

"It shows there are a lot of industry workers in the Knoxville area, which is good if you're wanting to start a restaurant," Zajechowski said. "If there's a lot of industry workers per city, it's a good signal for restaurant owners that it would be easy to pull people to work at your restaurant."

Chattanooga and Nashville are also ranked in the top 50, with Chattanooga ranking at number 31 and Nashville ranking at number 47. 

Knoxville restaurants have made national news in recent months. In October, Yassin's Falafel House was named the "Nicest Place in America" by Reader's Digest. The award was given to owner Yassin Terou by "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts on Oct. 11.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Monica Kast

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit


Published February 19, 2019