There is probably no better way to try out a new restaurant concept than to test it in a college town. For some reason, college students are interested exploring a wide variety of cuisines and are willing to try new dining ideas before many of the rest of us.
In addition, college towns are a diverse microcosm of the country, which makes them especially good for testing and refining an idea before franchising or expanding organically. Lastly, entrepreneurship is a very important part of the economic fabric of college towns.
So, here is a partial list of restaurant chains that started in college towns and now have become successful nationally and in some cases internationally. If you know of any others, please feel free to send them along.
- Biggby Coffee – East Lansing, Michigan – Michigan State
- Bruegger’s Bagels– Burlington, Vermont – Univ. of Vermont
- Buffalo Wild Wings – Columbus, Ohio – Ohio State
- Caribou Coffee – Minneapolis, Minnesota – Univ. of Minnesota
- Champp’s – Minneapolis, Minnesota – Univ. of Minnesota
- Charlie’s Grilled Subs – Columbus, Ohio – Ohio State
- Cold Stone Creamery – Tempe Arizona – Arizona State
- Cottage Inn Pizza – Ann Arbor, Michigan – Univ. of Michigan
- Domino’s Pizza – Ypsilanti, Michigan – Eastern Michigan
- Expresso Royale – Berkeley, California – Univ. of California
- Hardee’s – Greenville, North Carolina – East Carolina
- Jimmy John’s – Champaign, Illinois – Univ. of Illinois
- Jittery Joe’s Coffee Shop – Athens, Georgia – Univ. of Georgia
- Logan’s Roadhouse – Lexington, Kentucky – Univ. of Kentucky
- Noble Roman’s – Bloomington, Indiana – Indiana University
- Noodles and Company – Boulder, Colorado – Univ. of Colorado
- Old Chicago Pizza – Boulder, Colorado – Univ. of Colorado
- Rax Roast Beef – Columbus, Ohio – Ohio State
- Red Robin – Seattle, Washington – Univ. of Washington
- Ruby Tuesday – Knoxville, Tennessee – Univ. of Tennessee
- Starbuck’s – Seattle, Washington – Univ. of Washington
- Steak ‘n Shake – Normal, Illinois – Illinois State
- Tully’s Coffee – Seattle, Washington – Univ. of Washington
- Wendy’s – Columbus, Ohio – Ohio State
Will stay with this one!
Thank you, Bas
You’re welcome, Rick.