The restaurant industry has grown nice and steady for years.  Micro trends such as local and sustainable; macro trends such as two income households; and tech trends that make it easier to find and transact with restaurants have given Americans the interest, need and means to order from restaurants.  Not many industries have benefited from so many favorable trends for so long.

But trends are built on long term averages.  From 2009 to 2010 the restaurant industry slumped.  Total restaurant count dropped, sales dropped, customer counts dropped, transaction size dropped…  Operators who once worryied about commodities, weather and health care suddenly had a whole new problem:  customers were not spending.  But finally a glimmer of optimism returns.  RBC Capital, as reported in Nations Restaurant News (, reports 14 percent of respondents said they planned to spend more in restaurants over the next 90 days, a slight uptick from the 13 percent who said the same in January.

Out of the woods?  Not quite.   But the long terms trends are still in place and the short term trends are moderating.  Soon we can get back to worrying about the price of tomatos and FMLA compliance.  The good old days.