A city survey found Coppell residents want more restaurant options, and city officials want to oblige. There are 82 restaurants in Coppell, according to the city’s database. Most are fast casual or fast food—therefore, residents desiring a fine dining or full-service experience often go to surrounding communities, according to feedback from the 2022 Citizen Satisfaction Survey.

Cities nationwide encounter challenges with attracting restaurants, but it’s especially challenging for places like Coppell, partly due to its size, said Mindi Hurley, the city’s community development director. Restaurant operators desire large populations to help ensure enough people are dining there throughout the day, she said.

“Coppell is blessed that we have a ton of people that come into the community to work during the day, and so that helps us tremendously,” she said. “We’ve got a good number of residents in the evening, but unfortunately, most of the time when restaurants are evaluating locations, they’re looking for even larger numbers.”

Residents would like to see more restaurants and retail options within Coppell, according to survey feedback. Attracting new restaurants ranked as one of the most important issues for citizen satisfaction.

Survey participants’ open-ended responses indicated they are drawn to nearby communities such as Grapevine, Southlake and Flower Mound for restaurant visits. Grapevine has more than 200 restaurants, according to its convention and visitors bureau. There are over 130 in Southlake and over 180 in Flower Mound, according to respective restaurant directories. Grapevine and Flower Mound have larger populations than Coppell with 50,872 and 77,243, respectively, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. But Coppell still falls behind in its number of restaurants compared to Southlake, which has a population of 31,105 compared to Coppell’s population of 42,221.

“It’s not that we have a lack of restaurants,” Hurley said. “People want variety.”

Market challenges

There are multiple variables that factor into a restaurant’s success, officials said.

“Restaurants don’t just open their doors and hope people show up,” Coppell Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ellie Braxton said. “They do a lot of market research to determine if there is a market for their particular restaurants.”

Some factors that influence a restaurant’s success include traffic count, population size and income, Coppell Mayor Wes Mays said.

“[Coppell] has the income level,” he said. “We’re not [sure] we necessarily have the total available population.”

Some restaurants have relocated to nearby Irving because they can get more exposure there, Braxton said. The city also has specific requirements that may deter prospective restaurants. For example, neon signs are prohibited, and bars are not permitted since Coppell restaurants must have a food and beverage license.

Restaurants in the Cypress Waters community are the exception to the rules—those establishments may have Coppell addresses, but Cypress Waters is governed by the city of Dallas.

Some restaurants have also struggled to stay open in recent years, officials said. Like many communities, Coppell lost several eateries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[The shutdown] flushed out the operators that weren’t very good, and the ones that were probably burnt out,” J. Macklin’s Grill owner Todd Kerr said. “And unfortunately, it just flushed out good businesses that couldn’t recover.”

One of the primary reasons why restaurants in Coppell have struggled is due to low patronage, Braxton said.

“There’s a few here that have their loyal groups,” she said. “We’ve had a lot come in and out, and they always say that they just don’t get enough business.”

Residents would particularly like to see more restaurants in Old Town Coppell, according to survey feedback. Past restaurants in the area struggled partially due to low traffic volume, Mays said.

“Old Town has about 6,000 to 8,000 vehicles a day,” he said. “[Historic Downtown McKinney] has over 20,000 vehicles pass by, and the McKinney area is very successful. [Vehicle count] is probably one of the things that the Old Town area has going against it the most.”

Braxton said demand is key for attracting and keeping restaurants.

“[People] can want more restaurants, but unless they’re willing to patronize them, they’re not going to come,” she said.

‘Fabric of a community’

There are several benefits to having a restaurant within city limits, officials said.

Having a restaurant nearby is convenient for residents. Restaurants also contribute to a city’s sales tax revenue and provide employment opportunities, Hurley said.

“Restaurants are at the fabric of a community,” she said.

Firehouse Subs is one of Coppell’s newest dining options. Franchisee Ryan Franklin said he was drawn to Coppell because of its perception as a close-knit community.

“It just seemed like a great place that has a nice balance of residential and daytime workforce population, which essentially is what we need to be successful in the suburbs,” he said.

Loyal clientele has proven to be essential for Coppell’s restaurants, city officials said. J. Macklin’s Grill is one that has a strong following.

“When [residents] like something, they like it, and they will rotate between places,” Kerr said. “Because of our long standing here, we’ve become that community [restaurant].”

Providing a good experience is also necessary for a restaurant in Coppell to succeed, Kerr said.

“You have to give [people] a great product at a great value,” he said.

Meeting the community’s need

Coppell plans to grow its restaurant inventory by gathering community input.

Hurley said the city plans to launch a retail and restaurant survey later this year to find out what residents specifically desire.

“Hopefully, it will produce some conclusive results that help us then to go out and really try to get the types of food and the types of restaurants that our community wants,” she said.

Hurley said the city is also constantly trying to meet with restaurant operators to convince them to consider Coppell as a place to set up their business. If approved by council, a consultant will be tasked with assisting officials in their efforts.

Keeping dining options in Coppell is also a priority, city officials said. The city has offered grants to support businesses, and there are programs and promotions intended to attract patrons.

For instance, the chamber is spearheading the Discover Coppell campaign. Part of its mission is to drive visitors and residents to local restaurants.

More restaurants are planned for Coppell, according to the city. Four are set to open soon. There are also spaces throughout the city intended for restaurant use. For instance, council recently approved a zoning change request for a new Old Town development that is expected to bring more restaurants to the area.

Kerr plans to open his newest concept, San Daniele Italian Eatery, this summer. He said he hopes the full-service restaurant will draw visitors who will then frequent other Coppell restaurants.

While bringing restaurants in is one of city officials’ goals, Hurley said it’s important for the community to support existing businesses.

“We will constantly try to do better to support our restaurants in any way we can,” she said.