Florida’s first and only ‘HotEL Paradise’ opened this week, with more than 1,100 restaurants.
The restaurant is a major draw, with its proximity to Disney World and the Florida Keys.
Its opening is just the latest success for the state’s newest restaurant-focused industry.
Last month, the Sunshine State became the first in the country to ban alcohol sales on its beaches, with new rules that were designed to reduce the number of underage drinkers.
Florida’s Restaurant Opportunities Commission is overseeing the expansion of the Paradise, with the goal of becoming the nation’s largest restaurant-centric tourism destination.
At the same time, the Paradise’s opening is also a boon for local restaurant owners, who have been struggling to attract the number and quality of customers they need to compete.
Last year, a study by the Florida Association of Restaurant and Lodging Companies found that local restaurants were making a profit on average just a little over 4% less than the national average.
The Paradise was also among the most popular restaurants in the state, drawing 2,800 customers a day in 2017.
It has been serving as a beacon of hope for a state that is struggling with an unemployment rate that is nearly double the national rate.
“We’ve seen the numbers that come in here go up,” said Jeff Anderson, a hospitality professor at Florida Atlantic University who recently published a study on the Paradise.
“The fact that the restaurant is so popular is a testament to the fact that we are able to provide a service that people are looking for and it’s also an indication that this is a good time to build out.”
Anderson has been watching the Paradise for years.
He began to see the restaurant growing out of necessity after the recession hit the state in 2009.
“We were struggling to find people that were interested in the business,” he said.
Florida’s hospitality industry has grown in the past few years, fueled in part by the rise of hotels.
The Sunshine State is the nation´s second-largest hotel industry, behind only New York.
Restaurants have found it difficult to compete with the rising number of guest travelers.
But the Paradise opened in May, just months before the state was set to open its first new hotel since 2012.
For Anderson, the growth of the restaurant industry is a reflection of the economic recovery and the state´s economic recovery.
His group recently published its 2017 Restaurant Outlook report, in which the state ranked among the top 10 for the number, type and quality new restaurants in America.
It ranked first in Florida for new restaurants, second for number of new restaurants opened and third for the amount of new jobs created.
In addition, Florida ranked among one of the top 20 states for new businesses and the number three for new hotel construction.