Is eating out still in?
The U.S. restaurant industry faces a fundamental problem: too many eateries and not enough customers. Challenging the industry are disruptive forces that include a sharp decline in the number of people eating lunch out, stiff competition from food trucks, the rise of home-delivered meals and other food and the indirect effects of changing lifestyles such as greater online shopping. The total number of restaurants has fallen by 2 percent since 2014, and traffic at the remaining ones has been essentially flat. Full-service casual chain restaurants are especially hard-pressed, while lower-end fast-food chains that serve breakfast all day are in better shape and high-end restaurants in prosperous coastal cities are doing well.
Among the key takeaways:
Retail food prices decreased by 1.3 percent in 2016, while restaurant prices rose 2.5 percent as labor and health care costs increased.
Diners who patronize fast-food and fast-casual establishments at least twice a week intend to cut back their visits by 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively, over the next 12 months.
Digital ordering via smartphone apps has grown 18 percent over the past year, creating a growth opportunity for restaurants.
Resources for Further Study
“So, You’re Thinking About Owning, Operating or Investing in a Restaurant …: How to Get Into the Restaurant Business with Eyes Wide Open,” RSG LLC, 2016. This book by Restaurant Startup & Growth and RestaurantOwner.com explains what you need to know before investing in a restaurant.
Fields, Roger, “Restaurant Success by the Numbers, Second Edition: A Money-Guy’s Guide to Opening the Next New Hot Spot,” Ten Speed Press, 2014. This one-stop guide to opening a restaurant from an accountant-turned-restaurateur shows aspiring proprietors how to succeed in the crucial first year and beyond.
“2016 Was the Worst Restaurant Year Since the Recession,” QSR, Jan. 13, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Jargon, Julie, “Diners Are Finding $13 Burgers Hard to Swallow,” The Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Jargon, Julie, “Going Out for Lunch Is a Dying Tradition,” The Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Thompson, Derek, “The Paradox of American Restaurants,” The Atlantic, June 20, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Global restaurant outlook: feeding the global consumer,” AlixPartners, October 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“Mobile Invasion: Mobile Payments in Restaurants,” National Restaurant Association, May 11, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
“What’s Hot Culinary Forecast,” National Restaurant Association, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Breuninger, Kevin, “How social media is transforming your dinner,” CNBC, July 8, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Hagerty, Kyle, “How Instagram And Retail Created The Perfect Recipe For Restaurant Anchors,” Bisnow, July 12, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Yagoda, Maria, “Do Restaurants Come Up with Dishes Just for the ‘Gram?” Food and Wine, July 7, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Baskas, Harriet, “Gate delivery could be game-changer for airports,” USA Today, July 10, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Radu, Sintia, “Blue Apron promised to bring disruption to the food business. Then it got disrupted,” The Washington Post, June 21, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Sherman, Elisabeth, “Food Delivery Market Surging Thanks to Online Orders,” Food & Wine, July 13, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
2099 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., #300, Washington, DC 20006
Global consulting firm that tracks the restaurant industry.
Black Box Intelligence
17304 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75252
Consulting firm that provides restaurant-industry metrics, sales trends and performance data.
National Restaurant Association
2055 L St., N.W., #700, Washington, DC 20036
One of the largest food service trade associations in the world, supporting more than 500,000 restaurant businesses.
NPD Group Inc.
900 W. Shore Road, Port Washington, NY 11050
Global information company that tracks the restaurant industry.
55 Broad St., 30th floor, New York, NY 10004
Online portal for statistics, market research and business intelligence.
300 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60606
Business management consulting firm that specializes in the food service industry.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Postal Square Building, 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20212
Federal agency that collects data on employment and wages.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250
Government department that tracks food prices.