El Paso restaurant industry to add $1.3 billion to the economy

Monica Cortez

POSTED: Monday, January 20, 2014 - 7:06pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 10:31am

The last few years and months has been a different story for the restaurant industry in El Paso. Thanks to the expansion at fort bliss and Juarez eateries relocating to El Paso because of the violence in Mexico, the restaurant scene in was booming. Officials said both those trends are leveling off, leaving restaurants to compete in a different atmosphere. "As competition comes in, existing restaurants have to perform better or they won't be in business anymore," said El Paso Restaurant Association member Anthony Duncan. Duncan knows the business all too well. As owner of Hudson’s Grill, Corner Tavern and Border City Ale House, he said as more eateries fire up their kitchens, the competition heats up for customer. "It means more options for us when we eat out,” he said. “A lot more El Pasoans eat out than they ever have before so that's always good, and it makes a lot of times the places you go to become better." A perfect sign of those options, Famous Dave’s opened up a new location on Airway. And Mayor Oscar Leeser said this is a good sign for our economy. "This is a big step forward for El Paso and like I said they are employing 150 people and it goes with what we are looking for and that's to continue to get jobs for the citizens," he said. Although more jobs are opened up, the El Paso market is behind the national average. "El Paso is kind of in line and a little behind what's happening in the rest of the country now,” said Duncan. “And you are starting to see a lot of the restaurants and bars and their sales are starting to flatten out." Economists are projecting the restaurant industry will break records. According to the Borderplex Economic Outlook, El Paso’s restaurant industry is expected to add $1.3 billion to the economy pushing the US total to a record breaking high of $683.4 billion. "What ends up happening is that more the people eat out, and the better experience that they get, the more likely they are going to go to eat out again and that's good for all of us restaurants,” said Duncan Estella Martinez, frequent customer at Famous Dave’s said it’s that great service that keeps her coming back. "It’s so delicious, and we couldn’t be happier, we were waiting for this location to open up so they've got a customer that will be coming back and back and bring the whole family," she said. Duncan said although the local industry may be a bit behind, it's still heading in a positive direction.

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