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Number of Restaurants in the US 2022/2023: Statistics, Facts, and Trends

How many restaurants are there in the US?
There are 1 million-plus restaurant locations in the US employing 15.6 million workers. This 2021, the number of chain restaurants in the US is at 101,811. Many of these, including independent restaurants, comprise more than 1 million restaurant locations in the country. Total sales were only $564.8 billion, no thanks to the pandemic. This is $334.2 billion less than the pre-pandemic projection.

Source: US Census Bureau, 2021

Eating out has become a fashionable lifestyle among consumers in the United States. And, even with the pandemic in full swing, many still desire to enjoy a meal or a drink with friends and loved ones. Restaurants are not just a place to get food. They are also a place to commune. In this article, we’ll show and discuss key numbers and statistics that make the restaurant industry move before the pandemic. This article will discuss the different kinds of restaurants in the market- quick-service restaurants (QSR’s) and full-service restaurants (FSR’s).

How many quick-service restaurants (QSR’s) are there in the US?

Quick service restaurants include limited-service eating places, fast-food restaurants, pizza-delivery establishments, ice cream parlors, beverage bars, cafeterias, carryout sandwich shops, and carryout service shops with on-premise baking of donuts, cookies, and bagels.

Quick service restaurant chains are regularly called into question due to their supply and production of unhealthy foods. During an online survey in 2016, 39% of the respondents said that healthy options play a major role when choosing a fast-food restaurant.

How often do Americans dine at a quick-service restaurant?

In 2016, a survey carried out among Americans aged 18 years and older determined how frequently they eat at quick-service restaurants. 20% of the respondents said they dine out at quick-service restaurants once per week while 18% stated that they dine out several times per week. Of course, the number changed after the pandemic broke out.

In the US, 46% of consumers are likely to avoid going to restaurants and cafes even when the restrictions are lifted because of COVID-19. It is the top 7th on the list that includes cinema/theater (58%), music festivals (58%), sports events (56%), and pubs/bars/clubs (56%).

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Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being

When COVID-19 Restrictions Are Lifted - As of May 31, 2020 in the US

Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Cinema / Theater: 58

Cinema / Theater

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Music Festivals: 58

Music Festivals

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Music Concerts: 57

Music Concerts

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Sports Events: 56

Sports Events

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Pubs / Bars / Clubs: 56

Pubs / Bars / Clubs

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Gym / Sports Centers: 50

Gym / Sports Centers

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Restaurant / Cafes : 46

Restaurant / Cafes

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Large Retail Shops / Shopping Centers: 45

Large Retail Shops / Shopping Centers

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Museums / Galleries: 44

Museums / Galleries

%
Top Activities or Places People Will Avoid for the Time Being
Shopping Downtown / Highstreet: 37

Shopping Downtown / Highstreet

%

Source: Statista COVID-19 Barometer, 2020

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How many Full-Service Restaurants (FSR’s) are there in the US?

Full-service restaurants (FSRs) are restaurants mainly engaged in providing food services to customers who order and are served while seated and pay after eating. It was estimated that there were 33,160 FSR franchise establishments in 2019.

Most Americans, 44% to be exact, stated in a pre-pandemic survey that they very much enjoy dining out at a full-service restaurant.

Which city in the US has the most number of restaurants?

One of the hallmarks of a great city is a smorgasbord of great places to eat. The “food scene” according to Joe Cortright, principal economist with Impresa, is an important component of the urban experience.

The biggest restaurant city is San Francisco, with 39.3 restaurants per 10,000 households. Other restaurant-dense cities include New York City, the areas outside of New York City, Boston, Seattle, and San Jose, California.

What is the largest restaurant chain in the US?

Each year, the QSR magazine takes the pulse of the quick-service landscape – from systemwide sales to average-unit volumes, in order to take a peek at the country’s most dynamic industries, which is often referred to as the heartbeat of the American consumer.

Although it’s pulled back significantly in the last couple of years, sandwich giant Subway remains by a great deal the largest restaurant chain. Its 24,798 domestic locations are 9,973 ahead of Starbucks.

What is the number 1 fast-food restaurant in the US in 2020?

Chick-fil-A claimed the number one spot as America’s best fast-food chain for the fourth year in a row, according to the 2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI). In 2020, it retained its title with a score of 84. It trumped all fast-food chains including big old McDonald’s which netted a whopping 40.1 billion sales during the year. This is against Chick-fil-A’s 4.5 billion.

Chic-fil-A is also the top fast-food chain in the chicken category. Its closest rival as the best restaurant when it comes to customer satisfaction is Chipotle with a rating of 80, beating it by 4 points. The average ACSI  rating is 78. And, many brands fall below in 2020.

These include popular favorites including Little Caesar’s (76), Taco Bell (74), and McDonald’s.

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Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants

Based on American Customer Satisfaction Index Scores in 2020

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Chick-fil-A: 84

Chick-fil-A

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Chipotle Mexican Grill: 80

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
KFC: 79

KFC

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Arby's: 79

Arby's

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Dominos Pizza: 79

Dominos Pizza

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Subway: 79

Subway

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Panera Bread: 79

Panera Bread

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Dunkin' Donuts: 79

Dunkin' Donuts

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Papa John's : 78

Papa John's

Leading US Quick-Service Restaurants
Starbucks: 78

Starbucks

Source: ACSI, 2020

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How many chain restaurants are there in the US?

Ibis World reported that there are 125,444 chain restaurant businesses in the US as of 2020, with a 1.4% year-on-year average growth from 2015-2020. The number of businesses in the chain restaurant industry is expected to grow by 1.9% in 2020. The Southeast region is where most of the chain restaurants are located.

In Spring 2018, there were 307,940 chain restaurants and 352,815 independent restaurants in the US. 

How much does the restaurant industry earn?

Anyone who owns a restaurant will tell you that it’s way harder than it looks. If you manage to push through your initial year with only a few hiccups, you can expect to hit your return of investment (ROI) in roughly 4 years. The industry standard is 3 to 5 years.

Owing to how challenging it is to run the different aspects of a food service establishment, the SaaS industry has its own sector called restaurant management software.

Most Popular Restaurant Management Software

  1. Toast POSToast empowers a lot of US-based restaurants and has been awarded FinancesOnline’s Expert’s Choice Award 2019, reflecting the capabilities of this restaurant management SaaS.
  2. TouchBistro – An iOS point-of-sale system, TouchBistro is remarkably popular among restaurant owners for its features and functionalities.
  3. Oracle Hospitality – As its namesake implies, Oracle Hospitality is a hotel management software that naturally offers a lot of restaurant and food establishment features.
  4. Revel Systems POS – Designed for food and retail, Revel Systems POS is a powerful point-of-sale system that users point out is quite intuitive.
  5. When I Work – As a staff scheduling and management tool for food service employees, When I Work has been touted as an online restaurant platform that helps increase management efficiency and productivity.

How many people work in the restaurant industry in the US?

In 2015, there were approximately 14 million people working within the industry, and this number is expected to reach over 16 million by 2026.

In 2019, roughly 3.88 million employees worked in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) franchise industry in the US. This is a 35% increase since 2010.

On the other hand, employment in the table/full-service restaurant franchise industry was estimated at 1,116,894 in 2019.

How much is the hourly wage of foodservice employees in the US?

Like other service-oriented industries, the hours in the foodservice industry are varied and can be demanding, so one can argue that the pay is not commensurate to the energy and effort employees put into their work.

How much do people enjoy dining in a restaurant?

Since 2004, the quick-service restaurant sector (QSR) in the US has seen year-over-year growth, with its peak consumer spending reaching approximately $300 billion in 2018. Similarly, a notable 7% decline in consumer spending was seen in 2019.

Why do restaurants fail?

According to the 2017 fall census from NPD group, the number of independent restaurants in the US fell 3%, which brings the number to 346,105 units, a decrease of 10,952 units from the same period last year. This came as a result of chain restaurants remaining flat with their 2016 numbers.

The drop in independent restaurants was mostly in sit-down restaurants, as Americans increasingly favor grab-and-go delivery options. Overall, the number of US restaurants declined 2% for the period to 647,288 units. Full-service restaurants on the other hand, also fell 2%, to 294167.

How many successful restaurants are there in the US?

The restaurant business is very tough. The average lifespan of a restaurant is five years and according to some estimates, up to 90% of new ones fail within the first year. However, there are some very successful exceptions that manage to succeed amidst challenges and competition.

What are the current trends in the restaurant industry?

National Restaurant Association conducted the What’s Hot survey in November-December 2019, wherein 600 American Culinary Federation chefs answered an online survey, asking them to rate how hot below trends would be on a scale from sizzling hot, steaming, simmering, and just room temperature.

Top 10 overall restaurant trends for 2020:

  1. Eco-friendly packaging
  2. Plant-based proteins
  3. Delivery-friendly menu items
  4. Healthy bowls
  5. Scratch-made
  6. Creativity with catering
  7. Revamped classic cocktails
  8. Stress relievers
  9. Specialty burger blends
  10. Unique beef and pork cuts

While some of these trends already sound familiar and are self-explanatory, others are new to the ear, or at least in terms of what it’s called. For instance, stress relievers refer to ingredients in the food that promote relaxation/relieve stress. Specialty burger blends include mushroom-beef burgers and other plant-based burger patties options.

Aside from the above-mentioned trends, food halls will continue to grow in popularity as aspiring restaurateurs realize that they don’t need to sink all their startup budget into brick-and-mortar locations. Food halls are communal dining spaces where operators can rent a booth to test out their restaurant concept.

When it comes to QSRs, lifestyle campaigns and limited-time offers (LTOs) will be key to marketing. more and more restaurants will invest in wacky and Instagrammable merchandise as part of their customer retention efforts. Brands will also continue to lean into specialty LTOs in order to pique consumer interest and drive social media engagement.

The restaurant industry is the type of business that if you don’t evolve or innovate, your business will die. Consumers will eventually get tired of the same menu, hence introducing new product concepts is one of the keys to keeping your restaurant afloat. It’s crucial for the restaurant owners to be perceptive and know what their clients want. Because as the lifestyle of people changes, so does their diet.

Going Back to Normal

Of course, COVID-19 has thrown a temporary wrench into the gears of these plans. And, in some business sense, the pandemic has brought in a statistical anomaly. Nevertheless, many hopefuls, including restaurant owners, foodies, culinary professionals, and the common man are itching to get some normalcy back into the restaurant industry.

But it is good to note that the pandemic has also squeezed out many innovations from our go-to food places.

Firstly, the increased use of technology for marketing and distribution was very apparent during the pandemic. Secondly, a new range of food that travels well have been developed. And, many new smaller players have come to help fill demand gaps.

The year 2020 was surely a statistical anomaly. But all roads point towards the industry pushing to get things back to the way they were before. The restaurant industry is very innovative. And, surely, we can all hope that it can find ways to get through this pandemic and take it back to what it was before.

 

References:

  1. Statista Survey. (2016, November). Frequency of dining out at quick service restaurants U.S. 2016. Statista.
  2. Statista Survey. (2020). COVID-19 barometer 2020. Statista.
  3. Statista Survey. (2016). U.S. consumers who enjoy full service restaurants 2016. Statista.
  4. Forbes, P. (2012, August 1). Here are the most restaurant- and bar-dense US cities. Eater.
  5. QSR Staff. (2019, August). The 32 biggest fast-food chains in America. QSR magazine.
  6. Herbert, G. (2019, June 28). America’s favorite fast food restaurants: Who’s No. 1? syracuse.
  7. IBISWorld. (2020). Industry market research, reports, and statistics. IBISWorld.
  8. Riehle, H. (2017, May 20). Restaurant industry 2017 and beyond. National Restaurant Association.
  9. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (08, September 9). Food preparation and serving related occupations. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  10. International Franchise Association, & IHS Markit. (2020). Franchise business economic outlook for 2020. International Franchise Association.
  11. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, March 31). Occupational employment and wages – May 2019. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  12. National Restaurant Association. (2020). What’s hot: 2020 culinary forecast. National Restaurant Association.
  13. Littman, J., & Beckett, E. L. (2020, January 6). 5 restaurant trends that will define 2020. Restaurant Dive.
Allan Jay

By Allan Jay

Allan Jay is FinancesOnline’s resident B2B expert with over a decade of experience in the SaaS space. He has worked with vendors primarily as a consultant in the UX analysis and design stages, lending to his reviews a strong user-centric angle. A management professional by training, he adds the business perspective to software development. He likes validating a product against workflows and business goals, two metrics, he believes, by which software is ultimately measured.

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