Chain business success possible despite hurdles

Nicole Ely/The News Olympic Plaza houses several local restaurants in Murray, including Los Portales, Jasmine Thai and Sushi and Tom’s Pizza.

While Buffalo Wild Wings is not coming to Murray, success is possible for similar restaurants

Story by Zachary Orr, Assistant News Editor

Nicole Ely/The News Olympic Plaza houses several local restaurants in Murray, including Los Portales, Jasmine Thai and Sushi and Tom’s Pizza.

Nicole Ely/The News
Olympic Plaza houses several local restaurants in Murray, including Los Portales, Jasmine Thai and Sushi and Tom’s Pizza.

Over the past few weeks campus has been abuzz about the popular sports bar, Buffalo Wild Wings, coming to Murray.

But, the idea that Buffalo Wild Wings will open in Murray was nothing but a rumor, said Aaron Dail, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

It isn’t bringing its 21 sauces and seasoning to town anytime soon.



The company didn’t return several messages left by The News about whether the chain would consider Murray, but the issue highlighted some difficulties Murray’s business community has had in attracting big-name restaurants to the city.

Mark Manning, executive director for the Murray Calloway County Economic Development Company, said the reasons for large restaurant chains’ disinterest in opening in Murray probably stems from three factors: Murray not being located along a major interstate, Murray’s small population and Murray’s strict alcohol policy, which prohibits any restaurant to serve alcohol on Sunday.

These are the limiting factors for a lot of chain restaurants that consider opening in Murray, Manning said.

“I do think that a lot of people in Murray would love to see some additional restaurants move in to town so that we could have more variety,” Manning said.

While Manning said he understands chain restaurants often have strict policies regarding where they build, he said he believes Murray’s population is misleading.

Manning said the traffic from Mayfield, Ky., and Paris, Tenn., add business to Murray.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I think some of these places would do really well in Murray.”

Cracker Barrel is an exception to this trend. Although 75 percent of Cracker Barrels nationwide are located adjacent to a major interstate, Murray’s location is among the 25 percent that are not, said Jamie Lencki, the employee training coordinator at the Murray Cracker Barrel.

Lencki said that although the Murray Cracker Barrel is successful, the restaurant does not do as well as other Cracker Barrels that are closer to major interstates.

“For Murray we are very successful,” Lencki said. “We do about $65,000 a week, but we are low volume for Cracker Barrel companies.”

Stores off the interstate, such as in those Paducah, Ky., and Clarksville, Tenn., average about double the Murray Cracker Barrel’s weekly revenue, Lencki said. She said she believes this, along with Murray’s alcohol policy, is what drives away other chains like Buffalo Wild Wings from coming to Murray.

Austin Vitt, sophomore from Mount Juliet, Tenn., said he believes Murray could catch up to places like Paducah in terms of restaurant variety if it would allow business to serve alcohol on Sundays.

“Growing up outside Nashville, I never heard of a town that couldn’t sell alcohol on Sundays,” Vitt said. “It seems really backwards to me.”

Vitt said he hopes Murray leaders change the city’s laws.

“I’d like to come here and have similar options as I do at home,” Vitt said. “Sure, there is good food here, but not nearly the variety I’m used to.”

Dail said he’s not aware of the alcohol policy deterring any restaurant from coming to Murray. There are many factors that could limit the large chains from coming, he said.

“They may take that into account when taking a look at Murray, but we have not had anyone say, ‘this is a huge problem and a hurdle for us’,” Dail said.

The Chamber of Commerce is taking the initiative to show big businesses just how successful they can be in Murray. It recently revamped, which now includes detailed demographic information about Murray and the surrounding area.

Dail said he thinks having this information on hand will inform businesses as to what exactly Murray has to offer.

“We’re trying to overcome that perception sometimes, which is Murray is a small college town,” Dail said. “That’s the way we love to describe ourselves, but we have plenty of retail and restaurants that rival some larger communities.”

Kaitlyn Cory, junior from Murray, said she was upset to hear that Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t coming to Murray.

“I was disappointed because they have great food, and it would be a fun place for college kids to hang out,” Cory said.