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Are your franchises hurting your destination? (short answer: yes)


Who would be crazy enough to kick out a tenant who doesn’t miss payments and doesn’t seem to mind those city-center premium-rates?   Springdale, Utah, for one.  Rather, they created an ordinance in 2006 to ban “formula restaurants” to maintain their unique personality of their town.

Sounds like a great idea.

Removing chain restaurants from quaint towns and historic city centers makes them unique and more appealing to visitors.  After all, why do people visit anywhere? Answer: To experience something they don’t have at home.

Other small towns have adopted this policy as well, including California’s Arcata and Solvang, Maine’s Ogunquit and York, Sister Bay, Wisconsin; Bainbridge Island, Washington; Bristol, Rhode Island.; Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Only one small problem, at least for Springdale. No, it wasn’t that visitors to Springdale missed those chain restaurants.  And no, it wasn’t that the Springdale locals were dying to work at chain restaurants.  It was that franchise owners were determined to make sure every corner of America had a fast food outlet in their backyard. So they sued in 2010 because clearly there’s something unconstitutional about not having a McDonald’s within five-minutes drive.

For tourism officials and city councils around the world, it should be a battle worth fighting. A 2008 Forbes Magazine article included Springdale in “America’s 20 prettiest towns.”  Consider what you might do as a travel magazine editor if you had to decide between covering two towns that were equally picturesque. One had 10 chain restaurants/stores and other allowed only unique and local establishments.  Which sounds like a more interesting destination to write about? Or visit?

BTW: Looks like Springdale won the day.

restaurants springdale




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