Why chains pick Columbus, Ohio, as test-market target

Wendy’s, Max & Erma’s and Panera experiment with new prototypes in Midwestern city

Columbus, Ohio-area chains Wendy’s, Max & Erma’s and Panera Bread have found the metro area a good fit for testing new restaurant prototypes. The three chains are experimenting with new designs and remodeled units in the area, which has 1.8 million people in its eight-country region, including 125,000 college students.

Covelli Enterprises — the largest franchisee of Panera Bread, with more than 200 units — plans to build 30 new locations in the Columbus area

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