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Posted: 4:55 PM- The list of retailers with a presence in Utah is set to grow even larger this year.

A number of new names, such as soup-sandwich-salad chain Corner Bakery, grocer Sunflower Farmers Markets and fast-food retailer El Pollo Loco are expected to debut along the Wasatch Front in the coming months.

This year may not feature the high-profile procession of retailers the state saw in 2007, one of the best years in recent history for retail expansion in the state. Last year, global furniture chain IKEA opened in Draper, followed by Cheesecake Factory restaurant near Fashion Place Mall in Murray. Apparel chain Urban Outfitters settled in the Gateway shopping center in downtown Salt Lake City while American Apparel debuted in the Trolley Square shopping mall near downtown.

Retailers have been attracted to the state in recent years due to the state's strong job and population growth. The population of the four main Wasatch Front counties - Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Weber - has reached the 2 million mark, which makes many national chains take notice.

It is still expected to be another good year for retail expansion in the state, with some popular concepts such as In-N-Out Burger, adding their first Utah locations. But with Utah's economy slowing a bit, and the downturn in the residential real estate market, expansion may be a bit less brisk, said Brett Palmer, a retail specialist with NAI Utah Commercial in Salt Lake City.

"But we'll still see more expansion of retailers already here and the continued addition of new retailers," he said.

Many companies expanding to Utah this year are planning multiple stores, such as Costa Mesa, Calif.-based El Pollo Loco, which features grilled chicken meals and other foods. It plans to open 15 franchised locations throughout the state in the coming years, said Julie Weeks, company spokeswoman. The first Utah location is set to open in April in Lehi.

The franchisee is the company's largest and already operates 51 El Pollo locations in California and Arizona, Weeks said. The chain has 389 locations in nine states, a combination of franchised and company-owned locations.

Dallas-based Corner Bakery has plans for two locations in the Salt Lake City area by fall, with a minimum of eight Wasatch Front sites in the coming years, said P.J. Evans, Corner Bakery's vice president of franchise development.

The 103-location chain, which serves up soup, salad, sandwiches and baked goods, had been over the past year looking at a variety of metropolitan areas in which to expand.

"Salt Lake City quickly rose to the top of our list," Evans said, noting the state's good economic conditions and the strong reception other retailers and restaurants have had here.

Boulder, Colo.-based Sunflower Farmers Markets, which focuses on natural and organic foods, likely will debut by summer near 6200 South and State Street in Murray.

The store is similar in format to Whole Foods, a natural and organic foods market that recently acquired competitor Wild Oats. Sunflower has a value-oriented approach, with its "serious food, silly prices" slogan.

Meanwhile, Whole Foods is working on a 50,000-square-foot store in Trolley Square shopping center near downtown Salt Lake City set to open next year.

While most of the companies that expand in Utah open their first locations along the Wasatch Front, some debut in the fast-growing southern Utah areas of St. George and Cedar City. The popular In-N-Out burger chain, for example, plans to open its first Utah location in southern Utah's Washington City in April.

The chain, based in Southern California, has 213 locations in three states. With Utah, in several weeks, it will be in four.