BOISE -- A new study suggests that Boise is one of the top cities in the country for fast food chains. It's good news for the chains, but bad news for local businesses.

The study compiled the total number of fast food locations for the nation's biggest 30 chains in about 500 medium to large cities. It then ranked the cities per capita.

Boise ranks 24th in the nation, with about 58 fast food joints for every 100,000 people.

It's a number that's all too familiar for local restaurateurs, like Chef Lou Aaron with the Westside Drive-In.

We can't compete with the chains, said Aaron. That's because of the buying power they have. They can buy ground beef for half the price I can. Their average profit is from 12 to 17 percent. And an independent like me? We're lucky to eek out three cents on the dollar.

Aaron said while chains clearly have a place and do contribute to the community, the local restaurants contribute much more.

We try to buy local ingredients, and keep things local... bakery local, produce, everything we can possibly buy local, we do, said Aaron. Because I know that the national chains don't. You see all the trucks from other states coming in here with food. They're not getting their food from Idaho.

Sabrina Shalz, who drove from Eagle to get her lunch from Westside Drive-In on Saturday, agreed with the buy local sentiment.

We've always just tried to buy locally, said Shalz. It is important to keep these businesses in business.

According to Aaron, keeping the Sabrinas of the world coming back is the only way to keep local restaurants afloat.

We exist for our customer, said Aaron. We have to live and breathe that, or we're not going to be in business for very long.

A researcher with NPD Group claims there has been a five percent increase in the number of chain restaurants in America over the past five years. Meanwhile, there's been a one percent decline in the number of independent restaurants.

If you're wondering where some other Northwest cities rank in the study, Portland checked in at 27th, while Spokane made the top 10, at 9th.

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