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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Cheap gas, American confidence: A restaurant growth recipe

By Jonathan Cheng

Start Googling "Is the restaurant industry," and the most popular search is "Is the restaurant industry growing?" This sheds some light on how weak the dining-out sector has been since the recession snapped many wallets closed. But there's good news for the industry: Job creation is improving, gas prices are low and restaurants are seeing seats fill up again. For the first time since February 2012, the industry's same-store traffic grew, according to recent data from Black Box Intelligence, which tracks more than 20,000 restaurants. Peter Reidhead, GuestMetrics' vice president of strategy, sees an encouraging trajectory taking place in restaurants. The period's traffic increases were "largely driven by gas prices having moderated nicely so that's been a nice relief for the consumer and freed up the budget," he said in a phone interview. The casual-dining and fine-dining sectors have shown the biggest improvements.