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Lots Of Restaurant Openings In 2017; Not So Many Closures

Jason Staten
Pizza is only one of the food options that expanded its offerings in Bloomington-Normal in 2017.

The food service industry is a volatile one. Turnover in establishments can approach 100 percent in just a very few years. 2017 was an active year for restaurant openings and closures.

Larry Carius writes about the Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene on Facebook. He's a retired head of the Food Service Sanitation Program at the McLean County Health Department and particularly champions local restaurants.

Carius said 32 restaurants opened last year and only 17 closed. The ratio is not dissimilar to the numbers in 2016.

Carius said it's a good question whether Bloomington-Normal is now saturated.

"After what I would call the big three opened, after Portillo's opened, after Giordano's opened, and after Oberweis opened, I have had successful restaurant owners tell me they have noticed a difference. Not that their business was bad, it was down slightly," said Carius.

He said it makes sense that the pie is being cut a little thinner.

2018 shows no sign of changing the pattern, though.

Carius said so far, this year openings include Zen Express, a sushi bowl place on North Main and Orlando in Normal, Huhot Mongolian Barbecue near TJ Maxx in Bloomington, and the Donut Experiment in Morrissey Crossing in south Bloomington.

You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Carius:

GLT's full interview with Larry Carius.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.