What Corporations should move to Humboldt? I want to build this list and then eventually prioritize it and add some data.
Ben's Soft Pretzels - Recently this Midwestern corporation gained permission to franchise across the United States--including California.
Sonic Drive-in - I was a little surprised to see Sonic Drive-In make the list. The outdoors restaurant could do well in Humboldt especially if it located to the old Midway drive-in movie site off of the Safety Corridor on Highway 101. Another benefit for Sonic is that the closest locations are also available in Redding, so there is the possibility of a supply chain.
(Great Spot for a Sonic Drive-In)
Panda Express - We could use some fast Chinese cuisine because our cheapest options seem to have trouble following basic health standards! (here, too) With the closest PE located in Redding, there is an opportunity for Humboldt to become a part of the Panda Express network of restaurants. Buffets have had trouble in Humboldt but maybe PE would be different.
((I dont know if I would be a customer, since my favorite Chinese place is The Tea Garden on Myrtle Avenue!)
Wienerschnitzel - As previously mentioned, Humboldt County's evaporating middle class makes several food chains difficult. Many Hot Dog businesses have risen and fallen in Humboldt! Maybe the strength of a brand name would change that? I think the best strategy would be to start small in the corner of a high traffic area. A location larger than a kiosk but maybe not an entire building. It's hard for me to envision the affluent eating here and I have trouble seeing poorer folks spending their limited funds on dogs. No middle class likely means no Wienerschnitzel.
Popeye's - Besides perhaps the health-conscious foodies, all economic classes like fried chicken! However Humboldt saw a rise and fall of KFC franchises as well as a Church's Chicken that failed on Myrtle Avenue. While it's rumored that KFC is coming back, I think there is still room for a Popeye's Chicken. Anecdotally I hear praise for it in Oregon and it also has operations in Redding and throughout the state. Personally I am almost more excited about their infamous biscuits! I think Popeye's could do well in Humboldt.
Chick Fil A - One of the most successful non-Humboldt food franchises in the USA. Winning awards for best place to work, people vote with their feet because the line of customers typically wraps around the building and sometimes even extends into the parking lot! The Chicken shop would need to run a smaller crew because of the insane costs California makes employers pay, but there is a chance a Chick Fil A could make it in humboldt.
Dairy Queen - I have my doubts, as DQ probably does better in an environment that experiences hotter temperatures. Humboldt's remote location plus the year round perfect weather make it hard to imagine a Dairy Queen. The decline of Humboldt's middle class would cause problems for DQ because it's slogan "not fast food, FAN food" is an obvious overture toward Middle class parents looking to feed a hungry family of 3-5 members. Ice Cream in Humboldt has always been a Mom and Pop affair, with Livin The Dream in Old Town and Toni's in Arcata as well as many other small time successes, I don't see Ice Cream going the way of Franchise any time soon.
Outback Steakhouse - I have trouble seeing Outback choosing Humboldt, due to the very tight margins experienced by these businesses that cater to the upper middle class. I don't think Humboldt is ready. If a large project like the East-West Railroad could get approved, then maybe, but our current trilogy - Art Tourism and Cannabis are not enough.
Jamba Juice - As someone that drinks Suja Green Drink every morning (and sometimes for lunch) as well as Muscle Milk, I would likely be a frequent Jamba customer. With all the gyms and outdoor lifestyle I believe a customer base could be established, however the Jamba franchise structure is quite spendy! If you want to launch a franchise you need quite a bit of money in the bank, and it's hard for me to see that happening in Humboldt!
Dunkin Donuts - Frantic morning commuters leave long lines at Starbucks, Jitterbean and Dutch Bros. Of course their is room for a Dunkin Donuts. While there would be an initial sales bump for a DD startup, I believe all the coffee places would stay in business.
Personally I would wince to see DD because I am an avid fan of Happy Donuts.
Caribou Coffee is a rising star in the national coffee chain field, and their unique food and coffee appears to stand alone. And that might be it's biggest weakness for settling in Humboldt. The menu is massive and aims at higher end clientele. While Humboldt certainly has a good share of rich folks, Caribou would need to focus and retain these affluent customers ASAP!
With all the coffee chains Starbucks, Jitterbean and Dutch Bros, as well as Mom and Pop spots: Old Town Coffee and Chocolates, Muddy Waters and Ramones--the only way Caribou wil make a dent is with good old fashioned customer service, prime location and choosing Eureka before any other city in Humboldt.
Shameless Plug: My favorite place for coffee is The Grind Cafe!
Blimpie is like a healthier step-up from Subway. My first inclination is that Blimpie wouldn't make it in Humboldt because it relies on the middle class, but with so many subway franchises spread across the county, maybe a Blimpie could offer an alternative that would be appreciated. Solid alternatives to Subway do quite well locally, like McKinleyville Central Sandwich and Eureka's Hole in the Wall. The Fortuna area of Strongs Creek Plaza has seen different sandwich facilitators (like Quiznos) as well. Tough Call on Blimpie, but I think the large, upscale menu will product pricing problems for a new location.
Hungry Howies Pizza - I have special memories of HH from my days going to Hillsdale College. A box of Hungry Howies was extra special after a day of studying and a great reason to visit to pool your limited funds with classmates to place that order! They make sandwiches too, but are best known for their pizzas with the butter-flavored crusts! Anecdotally it appears Little Caesars and Dominoes do well in Eureka as they have large crews of people and always have a waiting line, I bet Hungry Howie would fit right in!
Coldstone Creamery - A grand experience and not for bargain hunters, I see CC having a rough time keeping Humboldt customers. See my similar thoughts with Dairy Queen analysis.
Pizza Hut - I have fond memories of the Hut in Fortuna. They no longer have their own building but seem to do OK with hole-in-the-wall franchises within Target in Eureka. I think Dominos has a lot more name recognition and competitive advantage. Anyone can offer an enhanced crust after all. With the Dominos location on Broadway I think it would be hard for a Pizza Hut to establish a solo building enterprise. Not impossible.
Krispy Kreme - The only donut we care about is the Raised Glazed that put Krispy Kreme on the map. I always like looking to see if their Hot Rack neon sign is on, which tells the world that their donuts are on the rack, and ready! I think what holds KK back from expanding to Humboldt is overhead. KK needs a large food print to create the proper awe-provoking experience, and that means they need to sell a lot of donuts to stay in business! With stiff competition locally from donut shops that require a lot less overhead--Dons Donuts, Donut Mill, Cherry Blossom Bakery and Happy Donut, I have trouble seeing Krispy Kreme setup shop in Humboldt.
Panera Bread - When I think of where one of these would do well, I have to think Arcata, the college town of Humboldt. The only reason there isn't one? Because Arcata hates chain restaurants! Not something to be proud of, because Panera is a solid choice for both student and freelance independent contractor alike. Arcata suffers daily by not having such a place.