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Forecast for area restaurants is looking brighter
Forecast brightens for restaurants opening in the Fredericksburg area

 The area got its first traveling food truck when Beach Fries and So Much More launched in March.
SHANNON HOWELL FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 7/16/2011

By Cathy Jett

THE ECONOMY is still struggling, but that doesn't seem to have dulled Fredericksburg-area residents' appetite for going out to eat.

Restaurants are among the most common type of new business in the Fredericksburg area, often opening in the same location as one that had gone out of business.

The two new chain restaurants and independent gelato shop opening this summer in Southpoint II in Massaponax, for example, are all going in the former locations of similar businesses.

Longstreet's American Eatery, Drinks and Billiards opened in January in the former location of first University Cafe and Las Palmas Cafe. Alas, it didn't last much longer than its predecessors, closing only a few months later.

Still, the forecast for restaurants in general is much brighter this year than it has been since the economy tanked, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Its 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast expects industry sales to reach a record $604 billion and post positive growth in 2011 after a three-year period of negative real sales growth.

Among the states projected to post the strongest sales growth, Virginia is ranked third with $12.8 billion--a 4 percent increase. North Carolina ranked first, followed by Idaho.

Quick-service restaurants, such as the newly renovated Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken in Fredericksburg, are projected to post sales of $167.7 billion this year, a gain of 3.3 percent over 2010.

Sales at full-service restaurants such as the Home Team Grill that opened in March in Eagle Village are projected to reach $194.6 billion in 2011, an increase of 3.1 percent in current dollars over 2010.

Recent food trends in the Fredericksburg area run the gamut from trendy sushi restaurants and buffets, which have popped up in Fredericksburg, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties; to more traditional seafood spots such as Barefoot's, which opened in the longtime location of the former Barefoot Green Restaurant and Seafood Market in downtown Fredericksburg.

The area even got its first traveling food truck--a mobile venue that's been gaining traction in larger cities--when Beach Fries and So Much More launched in March.

More restaurants are on the horizon. Babaganoush Mediterranean Grill is expected to open in Eagle Village in Fredericksburg this summer, for example, and a Salsarita's Fresh Cantina is opening the end of August or early September in the former Foster's Grille site in Southpoint II.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com