The growth of chain retailers and restaurants in the city continues unabated, which may be a discouraging thought for anyone whose favorite deli has been replaced by a Dunkin’ Donuts.The sweet-treat and coffee giant took the title as New York’s largest retailer for the 10th consecutive year, with 612 stores, according to a report from the Center for an Urban Future. Dunkin’ added 16 stores last year and a total of 271 since 2008, when the center began tracking the proliferation of chain retailers. Still, there are some weak links among the chains, particularly retailers coping with the Amazon deluge. Duane Reade closed 43 stores last year, though it still has 260. Radio Shack, which had 116 locations in the city a decade ago, is down to its last three. American Apparel vanished from the scene, as did discount retailer Second Time Around.
Overall, however, the number of chain locations in the city grew by 1.8% last year, higher than 2016’s 1.2% and 2015’s 1%. All boroughs except Staten Island saw growth in chains, while Brooklyn had the most. Years of steady increases have resulted in a 35% jump in the number of chain locations of all kinds in the city since 2008, to a total of 7,317. Most of the growth is in food. Fast-food franchises such as Chick-fil-A are expanding here after long avoiding the city, where tight spaces didn’t fit well with their restaurants’ cookie-cutter layouts. But now joints like Popeye’s, Arby’s and even Taco Bell are expanding in the city in a big way, partly because they can afford the rising rents that continue to squeeze out independent operators. Most fast-food restaurants here are owned by large franchisees who control dozens of locations. Chain coffee shops such as Starbucks and Joe Coffee are growing fast, as are chain bakers like Le Pain Quotidien and Panera Bread. Perhaps the most surprising story is Crumbs Bake Shop, a muffin-maker all but left for dead when it sank into bankruptcy in 2014. But Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC reality series The Profit, has since acquired the company for $7.1 million, plus the assumption of certain debts. Crumbs has gotten off the floor and added a dozen local locations last year, bringing its total to 22. – Source: Crain’s New York Business.