Tyler Cowen recommends going to strip malls where rents are lower for good ethnic foods. That's probably true in large metro areas such as Washington, DC and New York/New Jersey metro. But one of the best Vietnamese food we had in Reading,PA was not in a strip mall but in a small converted house. Sadly, it does not seem to be there anymore 10 years later.
My thought is this: If I were going to open a restaurant in a small town, does it make sense to start up in a strip mall some distance away from the town center? Does it make a difference what kind of small town it is -- for instance, one that does not attract as many tourists such as Dillsburg, PA or Leesburg, VA? We haven't been to Leesburg, but there is a Thai restaurant in Dillsburg on Rt. 15 that we've always wondered about.