Kelley Construction builds Texas Roadhouse in Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska, is taking on the image of restaurant boomtown as “Lower 48” brands push into the 49th state.

Three major brands — Texas Roadhouse, Hard Rock Café and Krispy Kreme — are opening their first units in Alaska this year, debuting new stores in Anchorage, the state’s largest city. They follow on the heels of brands such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Chili’s Too, Dairy Queen, Pita Pit and Olive Garden.

With a population of more than 292,000 and 2012 per capital personal income of $54,570, Anchorage has drawn the attention of more restaurant chains.

“I think some of the folks that have blazed the trail, especially casual diners, have met some success,” said Travis Doster, director of public relations for Louisville, Ky.-based Texas Roadhouse Inc. “I think the market is underserved. Everybody who has been there to visit the site and visit the town says there’s just a buzz there, an excitement that they haven’t seen in a long time.”

Doster said that the 410-unit casual-dining concept is scheduled to open its first Alaska store on May 5 in Anchorage and plans to debut a second on Sept. 29.

“With all the restaurants coming in, folks are saying it feels like a boomtown,” Doster added. “You don’t hear that much anymore. It’s the last frontier maybe.”

In November alone, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. and Hard Rock Café International Inc. both announced new projects for Anchorage.

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Krispy Kreme signed a franchise agreement with North to Alaska LLC to develop four units in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley over the next three years, with the first opening this year. Krispy Kreme has more than 240 shops in the United States, of which about 150 are franchised, and 540 units in 22 nations outside the United States.

Orlando, Fla.-based Hard Rock Café International said it would open a company-owned, 13,600-square-foot, 275-seat restaurant in the city. A spokeswoman said Thursday that Hard Rock Anchorage, which will showcase the brand’s new design and a 52-inch high-resolution interactive “touch wall,” would open later in the spring. Hard Rock has 138 restaurants worldwide.

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