Former Eater Detroit editor Nick Andersen pointed out via Twitter last night that Detroit's restaurant boom is awfully similar to that of New Orleans: "You could totally extend 'NOLA has too many restaurants!' to EaterDetroit in a few years, I think" he wrote, before linking an article from The New York Times.
The Times article explains that post Katrina, the city's shrinking population is somehow host to an ever expanding number of restaurants, and while tourism is certainly a help, it doesn't account for everything, suggesting that those who are living in the city are eating out more than their pre-Katrina counterparts did. One explanation?
[After Katrina New Orleans] lost many of its poor families and attracted, in their stead, what are sometimes called YURPs: Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals. Though the median household income in New Orleans is still below the national average, the population has more college degrees and more households that earn over $75,000 a year than it did before the storm.
This sounds eerily like what is happening in many parts of Detroit, including Downtown, where companies like Gilbert's Quicken Loans are encouraging their young, college educated professionals to not only work, but live, shop, and eat in Detroit.
Many small businesses have started taking advantage of this relatively recent influx of people by opening independent restaurants, bars, and even franchises, and the demand seems to keep on growing. Using NOLA as an example, this shift, if it continues, could spell out big changes for Detroit. The Times explains that restaurants don't just mean there are enough people, they mean enough of a certain kind of person:
Economically speaking, the restaurant boom is a barometer of a city that is more affluent and more educated than it used to be. "Richer cities have more restaurants per capita," said Jed Kolko, the chief economist of Trulia, the real estate website, who said New Orleans already ranked 14th in the nation on restaurants per person in 2010, just a few years into the recent boom (San Francisco was No. 1).
Detroit's future may still be uncertain in many ways, but the recent bumper crop of new restaurants could be yet another sign that the times are changing.
New Orleans Tables Are Ready [NYT]
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