Ethnic Economies in the Age of Retail Chains: Comparing the Presence of Chain-Affiliated and Independently Owned Ethnic Restaurants in Ethnic Neighbourhoods
journal contributionposted on 07.06.2019 by Mahesh Somashekhar
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Many entrepreneurs in ethnic economies start out by serving fellow community members in their local ethnic neighbourhood. Large corporations, however, are creating retail chains that target the ethnic market and expand into ethnic neighbourhoods. Little research has determined the extent to which chain retailers are co-existing or overtaking independently owned businesses in such places. This paper uses negative binomial regressions on over 50,000 ethnic restaurants in the New York metropolitan area taken from Yelp.com in 2015 to demonstrate the pervasiveness of the ethnic chain restaurant industry in ethnic neighbourhoods. For ethnic populations whose cuisines are very popular with mainstream consumers, such as Italians, Chinese, and Mexicans, results follow the traditional theory in which chains are more likely to locate away from ethnic neighbourhoods. For groups whose cuisines are less popular, such as Caribbeans, Indians, and Koreans, however, a new pattern emerges in which chains exist alongside independent businesses in ethnic neighbourhoods. In some cases, chains are more likely than independently owned restaurants to locate in ethnic areas, which may complicate the ability of local communities to form ethnic economies and confound the ways in which ethnic economies can help immigrants achieve socioeconomic mobility.