WINTER PARK, Florida. – This is the end of The Coop’s nearly decade-long journey to Winter Park, famous for its fried chicken and Southern comfort food.
It closes its doors forever on Sunday.
Sandra Woneschenbach stood in a long line Friday night waiting for her last meal at a popular place.
“We have enjoyed coming here for many years. This is one of our favorite places to eat,” Voneshenbach said.
She was shocked to learn that the business was closing.
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John Rivers owns The Coop and 4 Rivers restaurants across the state, but he is not immune to the problem that hundreds of thousands of people are now suffering from: inflation.
In a Facebook post, Rivers wrote, “Indicative of the dynamism of the Winter Park market, the current market rates are sadly far in excess of what our small business can justify with a lease extension.”
Chris Creegan, broker and owner of the Kreegan group, said the state is attracting business owners and prospective homeowners.
“Everyone wants to move here,” Creegan said.
This is one of the reasons why Florida is called the epicenter of inflation.
The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area has the highest inflation rate of any metropolitan area with over 2.5 million people.
Not to be confused with the recent high rate of inflation in the US (where prices rise as the currency devalues due to federal government spending), this type of inflation involves goods becoming more expensive as a growing number of consumers increase demand for them.
The growth of the state’s population is fueling inflation across the board, and this is affecting home prices and, in The Coop’s case, commercial rents.
“We have people moving here from all over the country because of taxes, political reasons and our weather,” Creegan said.
He said that high demand and low supply of housing and other facilities are driving up rents in Metro Orlando.
“As the leases run out, they increase significantly for new leases and people pay for that,” Creegan said.
Often these people are from cities or states with a higher cost of living.
Census Bureau data shows Florida’s population grew more than any other state from July 2021 to July 2022 due to high internal migration.
Creegan said that in order to slow population growth in Florida, other states need to become more attractive places to live and build.
The Coop will officially close this Sunday at 2pm.
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