In America's Cities, the Better-Off Trade Retail for Restaurants

The replacement of retail establishments with restaurants in America’s urban centers has a demographic slant.

The shift from shopping to eating cannot be explained solely in terms of the triumph of online over brick-and-mortar retailing, Aaron Betsky writes. Instead, the transformation of urban commercial space is linked to broader changes in the nation’s upper-middle class culture. Wealthy Americans are eating more, period, and cooking at home less. Moreover, we’ve come to expect more options in terms of special diets and ethnic cuisines.

The rise of the downtown eatery is also connected to residential sprawl. “As sprawl itself spreads, downtown areas become magnets for social activities, rather than for work, living, or shopping, and the bar or restaurant is the anchor of many such interactions,” Betsky writes.

But access to what Betsky calls “food jungles” is limited to those with the means to travel from suburb to city for dinner, and to pay for the meal. The urban poor remain stranded in food deserts, with no real change in their menu in sight.

Full Story: You Are Where You Eat: Let Them Eat Downtown

Comments

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Woman wearing city map tote bag

City Shoulder Totes - New Cities Added!

Durable CityFabric© shoulder tote bags available from 7 different cities.
$22.00
poster

A Short History of America

From comic book artist Robert Crumb, poster shows how the built environment has changed throughout the decades.
$14.95