Bakersfield’s novel approach to boosting economy? Asking residents what they want to see open.

Bakersfield economic development gurus are trying a different way to strengthen economic activity.

The results are in from the City of Bakersfield’s Retail and Restaurant Survey, revealing which establishments residents appreciate the most in town as well as which companies they would like to see open up shop. 

The big picture: The city-run survey not only shows city officials which restaurants and retail stores residents would like to see come to Bakersfield, but it also allows the city to approach potential businesses later in May at the International Conference of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas. 


  • Over 3,600 people responded to the survey, which is part of Bakersfield’s Economic Development Strategic Plan to grow the economy by 2026. 

State of play: Bakersfield revealed the top 10 local restaurants that its citizens enjoy dining at, which are as follows: Luigi’s, Frugatti’s, La Costa Mariscos, Wool Growers, Sorella Italian Restaurant, Mexicali, Moo Creamery, Cafe Smitten, Uricchio’s and 24th Street Cafe. 

  • For the local retailers, the city revealed the top 13 most popular: In Your Wildest Dreams, Bobby’s Hallmark, Spoiled Rotten, Bella, Victoria’s, Going Underground Records, Sweet Surrender, House of Moseley, Sugardaddy’s, Dewar’s, Emporium Western Store, BookHounds and Cope’s Tackle and Rod. 

What we’re watching: The city also revealed the five most desired restaurants and the five most desired retailers that residents want to have access to in Bakersfield. 

  • For restaurants, Cheesecake Factory, Porto’s, Claim Jumper, TGI Friday’s and Buca di Beppo topped the list. 
  • The most desired retailers are IKEA, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Bass Pro Shops and REI. 

What they’re saying: Bakersfield Assistant Economic and Community Development Director Jenni Byers told KGET that the survey allows the city to identify possible sites for future restaurant and retail chains that its residents desire. 

  • “There’s a couple of arguments that we use, particularly because the median income here is lower than Los Angeles, but the cost of living is higher in Los Angeles,” Byer said. “So really you try to demonstrate the affordability in the market and why it would be a good choice.”
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