HARLINGEN — Tex-Mex may be a fine and popular cuisine, but new competition for diner attention and dollars is becoming as hot as the salsa.
National fast-food restaurants — they prefer the name quick-service restaurants these days — are targeting the Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen region because they regard it as ripe for new franchises.
Some of them are national brands, like Philly Pretzel Factory and Mooyah’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes.
Mooyah’s turns 10 years old in March, and the Plano-based company already has 100 locations, including 17 in countries in the Middle East.
Company executives are bullish on the Valley.
“We think the Rio Grande Valley has got a growing population, a stable economy, and we have a location open in McAllen and we think there’s room for growth in the Harlingen-Brownsville area,” said Jordan Duran, director of franchise sales.
“We think we could definitely support another restaurant or two in the Valley,” Duran said last week.
A new study of the quick-service food industry released by QSR, an industry magazine, shows the Valley market ranks No. 12 nationally in growth potential for new restaurants among smaller markets.
Elsewhere in Texas, Houston ranks No. 6 in large markets and Dallas-Fort Worth ranks No. 10. Among medium markets, Austin ranks No. 6.
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Total restaurants — 2,140
Fast-food restaurants — 1,180
Fast-food growth fore-cast — 4 percent through 2021
No. 1 — Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson, North Dakota
No. 12 — Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen