What's Cooking in the Restaurant Business?

SONY DSC

With over $604 billion in sales annually, the restaurant industry has a big impact on our nation's economy. The National Restaurant Association's website is a great place to start when researching restaurant statistics and trends and they make it easy for us with a link to their research right at the top.  Here you'll find national, as well as state, restaurant facts. Here are just a few of the facts freely available:

  • There are 960,000 restaurants in the U.S.
  • 12.8 million people are employed in the restaurant industry making it one of the largest private-sector employers
  • 80 percent of restaurant owners started their industry careers at entry-level positions
  • In 2010, Hawaii’s restaurants are projected to register $3.1 billion in sales.
  • 47 percent of adults say they would patronize food trucks
  • 69 percent of adults say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers food grown or raised in an organic or environmentally-friendly way
  • In 2008, there were 38,596 eating and drinking places in New York
  • $2,619 Average household expenditure for food away from home in 2009
  • Restaurants employ 165,200 people in Oregon
  • The overall economic impact of the restaurant industry is expected to exceed $1.7 trillion in 2011

The state reports even break down restaurants by Congressional District. For example, I can see in the Texas report that Lloyd Doggett's district has 1032 restaurants and 22,932 restaurant employees.

You can also find interesting restaurant trends. Each year, the National Restaurant Association conducts a Chef's Survey. Here you can find restaurant trends by category.  In 2011, the biggest overall trend in restaurants is "locally sourced meats and seafood".  The top trend in desserts is "Artisan/house-made ice cream" while the hottest thing in breakfast is" Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)".