Restaurants nourish Boulder’s economy

BOULDER — Downtown Boulder’s more than 100 restaurants in a four- or five-block radius account for more than half the sales tax revenue generated in the central business district, according to the head of a local trade group.

While specific revenue statistics were not immediately available, Boulder has one of the highest per capita ratios of people who eat out of any city in the nation, said Sean Maher, executive director of Downtown Boulder Inc.

High-end restaurants such as Oak at Fourteenth, 1400 Pearl St.; Frasca Food and Wine, 1738 Pearl St.; and Mateo, 1837 Pearl St.; all in downtown Boulder, see repeat clients sometimes three or four times per week, he said. Such restaurants also are considered destinations for diners from Denver and along the Front Range, Maher said.

“People here eat out more than practically anywhere else in the country other than maybe San Francisco and Manhattan,” Maher said. “In the last 10 years, we have added several hundred residential units, so we have affluent people down here.”

Boulder restaurants’ health appears to mirror national restaurant health and growth, according to an index from the National Restaurant Association, an industry trade group in Washington, D.C. The group’s national Restaurant Performance Index rose 0.5 to 99.9 in November from October, according to a press statement from the National Restaurant Association. The index is created using same-restaurant sales information and customer traffic, according to the trade group.

Any index value below 100 represents a period of contraction for key industry indicators, however, according to the trade group. Labor “softness” and capital spending indicators led to the lower-than-100 value in November, the trade group said.

In Colorado, restaurant receipts are expected to grow 4 percent to $9.46 billion in 2013 from $9.1 billion in 2012, according to the trade group. Colorado restaurant employment is expected to grow by 1.9 percent at the same time, according to the trade group.

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