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PHOENIX -- Familiar names like Krispy Kreme, Portillo's, Twin Peaks and Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill have or will be opening new locations in the Valley, and the boom appears to be far from over.

Economist Rick Merritt with Elliott D. Pollack & Company in Scottsdale said he doesn't see a slow down in sight. Valley retail sales are up. Tourism is coming back. People are spending more and the name brand outfits do their homework and know where the opportunity is.

"Yes they're definitely seeing something. The housing market is coming around and we are starting to grow again. We are seeing job growth. It's a good place to do business."

Illinois-based Portillo's, a restaurant that specializes in Chicago-style hot dogs, is scheduled to open this week, with a second location to follow in a few months. Other locations are being considered.

Twin Peaks, a restaurant featuring female servers dressed as lumberjacks, opened its second Valley location this week at Camelback and 22nd Street in Phoenix. The Texas-based chain has locations in 17 states.

Krispy Kreme is making a comeback in the Valley and opened its newest location Tuesday at Bell Road and State Route 51. The Phoenix store will be the doughnut chain's fourth Valley location.

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill currently has two locations in Arizona -- one in Mesa and one in Tucson -- and a third one is being planned for Peoria.

Despite the influx of big-name chains, Merritt said he has two short term concerns: The additional two percent payroll tax and the soaring price of gasoline, as middle income families clamp down on extra spending.

However, Merritt said he expects the state's economy to be back to pre-recession levels by 2015.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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