State Of The Restaurant Industry: 35 Facts You Need To Know

The National Restaurant Association released the 2017 pocket factbook on the industry, which offers 35 insights into the nature of the business.  The facts were broken down into various categories.


1. Half of adults have done restaurant work at some point in their lives

2. 1 out of 3 Americans had their first work experience at a restaurant

3. 8 out of 10 owners reported beginning work in an entry level-capacity at a restaurant

4. The number of restaurants owned by women increased 40 percent between 2007 and 2012 – surpassing the 12 percent increase for all restaurant businesses.

5. The quantity of Hispanic-owned restaurants shot up 51 percent between 2007 and 2012, while the number black- or African-American-owned restaurants grew by 49 percent.


6. 9 out of 10 consumers report enjoying going to restaurants.

7. 2 in 5 consumers say restaurants are a key part of their lifestyle.

8. 7 in 10 consumers say their favorite restaurant foods offer flavors they can’t recreate themselves.

9. 8 in 10 consumers say dining out with family and friends is a preferable use of their leisure time than cooking followed by cleanup.

Economic impact:

10. Restaurant industry sales are estimated to total $798.7 billion for 2017 and makeup 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

11. The restaurant industry is projected to employ 14.7 million people in 2017 – about one out of 10 working Americans.

12. The restaurant industry is projected to add 1.6 million jobs over the coming ten years, with employment hitting 16.3 million by 2027.

13. Over 9 in 10 restaurants employ under 50 people.

14. Over 7 in 10 restaurants are single-unit operations.

15. Sales per full-time-equivalent employee at eating and drinking places in 2016 were $79,400.

16. Average unit sales in 2014 were $992,000 at full service restaurants and $861,000 at quick service restaurants.

Consumer trends

17. 40% of consumers said diet-specific food options would be a deciding factor in restaurant choice.

18. 54% of consumers report they would order breakfast more often if it were offered all day.

19. 63% of Millennials eat a bigger variety of ethnic cuisines than they did two years ago.

20. 49% of consumers would order meal kits from their favorite restaurants to make at home.

21. 20% of consumers report a preference for using technology than interacting with staff.

22. 80% of Millennials have used free Wi-Fi in a restaurant in the past year.

23. 60% of consumers say they would choose a restaurant that offered environmentally friendly food.

24. 56% of consumers say their main reason for choosing locally sourced food is that it supports community farms and produce.

25. 30% of consumers report that tech makes them dine out, order takeout, or delivery more often.

26. 42% of consumers say they would choose a restaurant that offers the ability to order online.

27. 45% of consumers say tech makes restaurant visits and ordering more complex

28. 34% of smartphone owners have payed for a meal with their phone.

Restaurant Industry share of the food money

29. In 2017, $798.7 B in restaurant sales were projected

30. There were $586.7 B total sales in 2010

31. There were $379.0 total sales in 2000

32. There were $239.3B in sales in 1990

33. There were $119.6B in sales in 1980

34. There were 42.8B in sales in 1970