Kellie Ell | CNBC | February 18, 2018

For better or worse, new eateries and the attention they attract have turned the restaurant business into a boom town, restaurateur David Chang told CNBC in a recent interview.

Chang, who owns 23 restaurants around the globe in such cities as New York City, Los Angeles, Sydney and Toronto, recalled a time when it wasn’t always this way. He spoke to CNBC from Pyeongchang, South Korea, the site of this year’s Winter Olympics.

“I remember trying to find leases and people were like, ‘No. We don’t want a restaurant in our building. It’s going to decrease the value because of problems with smells or whatever,'” Chang said of the first restaurant he tried to open back in 2004 in New York City. “And now, everyone wants a restaurant. Restaurants now are anchor tenants in buildings. That’s a joke.”

Today, restaurants and food establishments might occupy between 20 and 40 percent of a shopping center. A decade ago it was closer to 10 or 15 percent, according to commercial real estate and investment giant CBRE Group.

Gone are the days when the public embraced a (now largely debunked) myth that the overwhelming majority of new restaurants fail in the first year. “The problem is, there are too many restaurants,” Chang said.

“The whole idea that food is hotter than ever before because people just realize that with the younger generation, that’s where marketing dollars, real estate dollars, everything is coinciding with how people eat,” the Korean-American chef told CNBC