June 05, 2019

Restaurant industry added nearly 14k locations in 2018

Driven by population growth and an expanding economy, the restaurant industry continued to add locations at a steady pace in 2018. According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the restaurant industry added a net 13,817 establishments* in 2018, an increase of 2.2 percent. 

The 2018 expansion followed a strong net increase of 15,169 locations (+2.5 percent) in 2017, and represented the third consecutive year in which the restaurant industry grew by at least 10,000 establishments. 

In comparison, the overall private sector added a net 196,893 business locations in 2018, a 2.1 percent increase over 2017. The 2018 gain represented the strongest annual increase since 2006, when the economy expanded by more than 210,000 business establishments.

Within the restaurant industry, the quickservice segment added the most units in 2018. The quickservice segment added a net 4,982 establishments in 2018, a 2.1 percent increase over 2017 and the fifth consecutive year with growth of more than 4,000 locations.

The fullservice segment added a net 3,717 locations in 2018, which was down from a gain of 4,867 units in 2017. Despite the slowdown, 2018 represented the third consecutive year in which the fullservice segment added more than 3,000 establishments. 

The snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar segment – which includes concepts such as coffee, donut and ice cream shops – added a net 3,481 locations in 2018, a strong 5.9 percent increase over its 2017 level.  The solid 2018 growth represented the second straight year in which the number of snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar establishments increased by 5.9 percent.

The number of mobile foodservice establishments jumped 14.1 percent in 2018, which represented the segment’s eighth consecutive year with double-digit percent growth. Note that this dataset only includes businesses with payroll employees, so these figures don’t include the large number of food trucks that are owned and operated by one individual.

On the state level, trends were mostly positive in 2018, and restaurant location growth was generally strongest in regions that are seeing the largest population and employment gains. Forty-six states (including the District of Columbia) added eating and drinking place locations in 2018, while only 5 states experienced a decline in units. 

California led the nation by adding a net 4,058 eating and drinking place establishments in 2018, while Texas added a net 1,397 locations.

Arizona led the way in percentage terms, with a solid 6.5 increase in eating and drinking place establishments in 2018. South Carolina saw its restaurant industry expand by 5.6 percent in 2018, while California added locations at a 5.4 percent rate.

View the latest restaurant establishment data for every state.

*The establishment figures, which are based on unemployment insurance filings of businesses that have wage and salary employees, represent the most comprehensive census of establishments with payroll employees on the national, state and local levels.

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