▶️ Johnny Carino’s closes, but local restaurants are moving and growing

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Johnny Carino’s … Taco Del Mar … McGrath’s

Each of these chains have something in common – a Bend location that failed to stay afloat.

“Our share of employment that’s in these types of restaurants, these chain restaurants, here in Oregon and particularly in Central Oregon is far lower than the national average,” said Damon Runberg, regional economist with the Oregon Department of Employment. “So we definitely don’t have an affinity for fast food restaurants as much as some communities might have in other parts of the nation.”

However, the same can’t be said for multiple local restaurants.

The owner of Life and Time recently opened Vida Y Tacos.

And El Sancho plans to open a second location on the west side of Bend.

“People come here not just because they like to play in the woods and mountains, but they also like to eat the good food,” Runberg said. “So you tend to see places that are sort of tourism destinations having more foodie options.”

While tourism tends to favor places that are locally owned, Runberg says there could still be hope for future chains in Bend.

“There’s no such thing as the average Bendite. You know we’re all very different, so if someone moves here from another place and they’re used to a certain type of food, then over time that could sort of shift,” he said. “Like what we prefer as a community and make more demand for a Chick-fil-A.”

But in the end, it could just come down to the popular vote.

“People were really excited about Chick-fil-A, they were really excited about In-N-Out, but if you put in just sort of another generic … If it was another McDonald’s or another Burger King, probably not a lot of excitement there. Sort of low supply, high demand type thing with some of these establishments that we’re less familiar with in Oregon.”

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