Independent restaurants are quietly closing across the United States. According to this Grub Street report places where people can eat are at there lowest point in 10 years.
The number of restaurants fell by 2 percent nationwide in 2016, according to this report by market-research firm NPD Group, which says this puts the per-capita tally of places where Americans can eat “at its lowest level in the past ten years.” The group did find one segment invulnerable to the recession, at least in terms of sheer numbers, and it’s chains — more specifically, fast-food chains.
The chains (both fast-casual and full-service) grew by one percent in 2016, for a total of 297,351 units. (So almost half the country’s 620,807 restaurants are now chains.) The worst statistic of all is that the closures have not just impacted independently owned restaurants, but disproportionately ones in the full-service, sit-down segment of the industry. Fast-food chains are seeing runaway success — they grew by 7 percent this past year.