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Cool Street Cantinas

The Millennial embrace of experiences over

material goods is clearly visible in the sheer

volume of restaurant activity driving the

Cool Street phenomenon. In roughly half of

the markets that we surveyed and included

in our Top 100 Cool Streets, restaurant

businesses outnumbered actual retail

businesses (not including service retailers)

by a ratio of 2:1. Some of the neighborhoods

in our survey have yet to develop a

significant retailer presence and are

essentially foodie clusters. Craft brewing

such as Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati or

North Park in San Diego has been the

driving force behind the renaissance of a

number of the Cool Streets on our survey.

We see fine dining as central to the

rejuvenation of New Orleans’ Warehouse

District, while taqueria and authentic

Mexican food appears a driving force in

virtually every Cool Street market.

Cool Street neighborhoods are pretty

democratic when it comes to food; from

food trucks gone bricks-and-mortar to fast

casual chains and the highest-end chef-

driven concepts, growth has come from all

directions. While this reflects the greater

trend of growth taking place throughout the

entire retail world, it is yet another trend

largely driven by the Millennial consumer.

According to the latest data released by the

U.S. Commerce Department (May 2016),

sales at food and drinking places accounted

for 12% of all retail sales. This is the highest

level recorded in the 30 years this metric

has been tracked. From 1992 to 2010, this

metric averaged just 9.7%.

Cheap gas prices are playing a role in this,

but it is important to note that even in past

boom periods this number only infrequently

climbed above the 11.0% threshold.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census


Americans are spending more of their retail dollars

eating out than ever before and evidence suggests

Millennials are at the forefront of that trend.