Forty-six states added restaurant locations in 2015, led by a gain of more than 2,000 establishments in California, according to the NRA’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy. His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on Restaurant.org and Restaurant TrendMapper.
Nationally, the restaurant industry added a net 9,877 establishments* in 2015, an increase of 1.7 percent, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2015 increase was an improvement over the net 8,503 locations added in 2014, and represented the strongest annual gain since 2012.
On the state level, trends were mostly positive in 2015. Forty-six states (including the District of Columbia) added eating and drinking place locations in 2015, while only 5 states experienced a decline in units. This represented the largest number of states registering growth since 2005, when 46 states also added establishments.
California led the nation for the second consecutive year, adding a net 2,025 eating and drinking place establishments in 2015. The 2015 gain also marked the fourth consecutive year in which California’s restaurant industry expanded by at least 1,000 locations.
Texas added a net 1,119 restaurant establishments in 2015, which represented the fifth time in the last six years that the Lone Star State added at least 1,000 units. Georgia and Virginia saw their restaurant sectors expand by more than 600 locations in 2015.
Virginia set the pace in percentage terms, with a strong 4.6 increase in eating and drinking place establishments in 2015. The District of Columbia saw its restaurant industry expand by 4.1 percent in 2015, while Nevada, Georgia and South Carolina all added locations at a 4.0 percent rate.
In contrast, Minnesota lost a net 229 eating and drinking place locations in 2015, a 2.3 percent drop from its 2014 level. Florida’s eating and drinking place sector shrunk by a net 167 locations in 2015, after expanding by at least 500 establishments in each of the previous five years.
*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.