Franchise Restaurants Expand in Rogers Park, May Hurt Local Business

Trisha McCauley | The PHOENIXTaco Bell is one of the newest franchises to have moved-in near campus. The fast food chain opened this past summer.

Rogers Park is a neighborhood known for its diverse selection of cultural food, but an expansion of franchise restaurants in recent years might be changing that.

Blaze Pizza and Taco Bell are the two of the newest franchise establishments to open this year near the Lake Shore Campus (LSC). Since 2014, more than five franchise restaurants have opened around campus.

Current upperclassmen have been around to see the dining options in Rogers Park change over the years. Senior Laura Heinson, 21, has seen more franchise restaurants open around the LSC.

“There are a lot more places to eat near campus, but there are less places that I know of that are independent,” said the classical studies and French double major.

The latest franchises could become fierce competition for locally owned restaurants in Rogers Park.

Loyola Capital Planning works to maintain a balance between locally owned restaurants and franchise restaurants in the buildings the university owns and oversees, according to Wayne Magdziarz, the senior Vice President for Capital Planning and Campus Management.

However, nationally known establishments bring in more profit.

“At the end of the day, [franchise restaurants] are the ones, long term, that are financially stronger,” Magdziarz said.

Bill Morton, the president of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, explained the importance of locally owned restaurants in the neighborhood.

“The money stays in our local economy and our job is to stimulate the local economy,” Morton said. “For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.”

Loyola students are integral to this stimulation, according to Morton.

“A lot of local businesses are striving to have Loyola students come to their establishments,” he said. “Local business owners know you, and you know them.”

The Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce works closely with local restaurants to promote their businesses through affordable advertising and community outreach, Morton said.

Junior Olivia Urbanski said she understands the convenience of franchise restaurants, but she said she still prefers to eat at locally owned restaurants.

“I think it’s more fun to try new things and support a local business,” said the environmental studies and international studies double major. “It’s more of an enriching experience.”

Tammie Mann, who owns The Coffee Shop (1135 W. Sheridan Road) along with her husband, Richard, and her daughter, Rachelle, said she believes that the additional franchise restaurants opening can benefit the neighborhood over time.

“With the proliferation of more restaurants of any type, people are going to think of staying closer to home to eat,” said Mann. “I think in the long run, for a small business, if they can afford to get through this transition time … we can all do better.”

The franchise restaurants in Rogers Park are familiar to students, according to Heinson, but she said locally owned establishments can add to Loyola students’ unique college experience.

“If you go to an independent [restaurant] for the first time, it’s more of a risk,” said Heinson. “If you do find an independent restaurant that you really like, I think it can be more fun than a chain restaurant because it can be your special place.”

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