PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- It seems every month, a slew of new restaurants are opening up in the Valley, but a number of them are closing down too.
In the past year, some of the new restaurants that are creating some buzz in the Valley include three new taco places, two BBQ restaurants, two cafes, a Thai place, a micro-distillery and a new Chinese restaurant. At the same time, the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that Maricopa County is the fastest growing county in the country, for two years in a row.
"So, when you have that many people coming into the Valley, they're going to have to eat somewhere, so we've enjoyed a great response," said Steve Chucri, President of the Arizona Restaurant Association.
Some well known restaurants, however, are also closing. Desoto's Central Market is just one of the places that just closed. Also on the list is Donovan's Steakhouse, after 14 years in business. Back in the day, the upscale steakhouse used to be listed as one of the best in the Valley.
"Now you have to target, go to specific places without being able to walk comfortably," said Chucri.
So, is the Phoenix area becoming oversaturated with restaurants? Experts say not yet, but the Valley is trending that way.
"With labor costs going up the way they have with recent propositions on the ballot, forcing minimum wages up, food costs going up, all these other factors, sometimes, its just that hard to stay in business," said Chucri.
A graph from the Arizona Restaurant Association shows while the population is growing overall, the growth of new restaurants exceeds that.
"When you see both grow together, it not only becomes more competitive, it becomes better for the patron to have more choice," said Chucri.
The Arizona Restaurant Association says the restaurant business generated $12.6 billion in sales in 2017, and the numbers have continually increased year after year. So overall, the restaurant industry is doing well in Arizona, it's just become more competitive.