Queen Creek residents are starving for more restaurants. With less than a halfdozen restaurants in Queen Creek offering full-service dining, residents wanting a sit-down weekday lunch or a family dinner out are usually greeted with long lines and a short list of choices.
“In Queen Creek, you’re seeing the rooftops, and then there are people sitting there wondering, ‘Where are we going to eat tonight?’” said Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant and Hospitality Association. “Restaurants just can’t build fast enough to keep up with demand.”
Restaurant wait lines in this town of about 20,000 are particularly bad for weekday lunches and weekend dinners, residents and restaurateurs say.
“The selection is very limited, but we’re within years of it getting better,” said Kimberlee Coleman, a Queen Creek resident. “There are long waits even at the fastfood restaurants. There’s always a wait.”
Coleman, who sells real estate in Queen Creek, said a lack of eateries is one issue prospective residents mention to her.
“It’s hard when you have family in town,” she said. “I’d like to see more franchise restaurants, maybe a buffet and family restaurants.”
As Queen Creek’s population continues to increase, residents will see more eateries, said Doreen Cott, the town’s economic development program manager.
“A lot of that need will be addressed with the projects coming online,” Cott said, emphasizing that several commercial developments planned for Queen Creek include eateries. “These types of services are definitely in demand.”
Jeff Serrano, who manages Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant at 22701 S. Ellsworth Road, said one of the reasons his company chose the Queen Creek location was because of the small amount of competition in the area.
“When we first got out here there was a line out the door every night,” Serrano said. “I hear people coming in and saying this is one of the only restaurants around.”
Though Serrano likes having one of the few restaurants around, he said he realizes grow th will bring more eateries.
Queen Creek Vice Mayor Toni Valenzuela owns Rudy’s Restaurant at 21824 S. Ellsworth Road, which has been in business for 32 years.
Her restaurant is busy and offers a menu of not only Mexican food but also steaks, hamburgers and other American food options to help with the lack of restaurant options in the area, she said.
“We are lacking variety,” Valenzuela said about the restaurants in Queen Creek. “I would like to go to a restaurant and sit down and have some nice, good Italian food or maybe Chinese food. The majority of restaurants we have here are Mexican restaurants.”
Stephanie Cramer and Dottie Cobb, who were waiting at Serrano’s for a table last week, said there should be more of everything in Queen Creek — from grocery stores to restaurants.
“Everything is so far away,” Cramer said. “We don’t limit ourselves to what is around here, but I’d like to have everything closer.”
Nationally one out of every five meals is consumed outside of the house — an average of $1,000 per person each year, Chucri said.
Arizona is ranked as the second-fastest growing state when it comes to gross restaurant sales, second only to Nevada.
In 2005, Arizona restaurants grossed $6.7 billion and in 2006, restaurants are expected to gross $7.4 billion.