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August 22, 2013

Pickings slim in restaurant race for space

CHICKASHA —

Restaurants are poised to set up shop in Chickasha, but a lack of appropriate vacant lots and buildings is preventing them from moving in, Economic Development Council Director Christy Elkins said.

There are about five restaurants currently interested in moving into Chickasha, Elkins said, but they are having trouble acquiring a building or a vacant lot that's to their liking.

"Our issue right now is there aren't a lot of places for them to move into," she said. "I've got about five different restaurants I'm working with trying to find places for in town right now."

The news comes as popular barbecue joint Rib Crib is rumored to be looking into a Chickasha location, although Elkins said there was nothing official for any restaurant right now. The problems facing any future businesses are lack of spaces and the prices of some existing structures.

"It's either difficult to find or just overpriced," Elkins said. "A lot of vacant building owners or companies will want more than what a restaurant is willing to pay. There's only so much you can pay for the building and still make the business profitable."

Existing buildings are akin to holy grails in the restaurant business, Elkins said, as they are the preferred option over building a completely new one.

"They're looking for existing structures," she said. "Most companies don't want to build a brand new structure."

However, restaurants will build anew if they get the sense the market is favorable, Elkins said. For this to happen, many will still want a very specific type of lot located in a place they deem suitable for placing their business.

"If they really want to come in, then they'll build new," Elkins said. "But, they will have a specific idea of what type of two-acre block they want to put their building in. They have a system the company doesn't really want to deviate from."

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