"Developers say a popular restaurant can generate as much or more sales than a department store without using as much space. The proof, they say, is in the success of places such as Dallas' West Village.
Consumer behavior has changed with more people dining at a wider variety of places closer to home. In addition, other retail options have narrowed. Traditional retailers such as Foot Locker, Linens 'n Things and Zales have closed stores or shrunk expansion plans amid a tough national economy.
"Statistics show that consumers will eat out even if they cut back in other areas," said Jud Pankey, who's developing Lake Highlands Town Center in Dallas.
The National Restaurant Association has projected U.S. restaurant sales to increase 4.4 percent this year from 2007, even amid rising consumer prices."