Eating at a restaurant should always be a fun experience.

It’s an opportunity to try different cuisine or simply enjoy your favorite meal without having to cook it. 

Needless to say, not cooking means no cleaning up afterwards.

Of course, today, restaurants are much more than just a traditional American diner.

Alongside these restaurants, there are fast food chains, food trucks, trendy cafes, and even frontless takeaway options. 

The instant answer to how many restaurants are there is a lot.

However, this is a highly competitive industry which constantly needs to evolve to survive. 

In fact, the recent global pandemic is the perfect example of how the industry has been challenged.

While many businesses needed to close down, others found a new way to sell meals and flourish. 

Key Statistics

  • There are nearly 750,000 restaurants in the US
  • Restaurant sales are estimated to be $997 billion in 2023
  • McDonalds took $46 billion in revenue in 2021
  • Over 51% of restaurant workers are white
  • 12 million people are employed in the US restaurant industry
  • 54% of US restaurant workers are female
  • 90% of US restaurants have less than 50 employees
  • Since the pandemic 51% of Americans use restaurant delivery services

A Quick And Surprising Restaurant History Lesson

Restaurant History Lesson How Many Restaurants Are There

Offering food to others is a centuries-old tradition.

However, the first restaurant in the modern sense of the word was opened in Paris in 1765.

It offered a cure for those with stomach ache, the phrase over the shop was written in Latin. 

This establishment sold poultry, eggs, buttered pasta, and even semolina cakes.

It was reputed that much of the food offered benefits for everyday health. 

Its poultry with chicken sauce dish quickly became renowned across Paris.

In a sense, this was the first establishment to offer a menu, allowing visitors to choose their preferred dish. 

More importantly, unlike the taverns which were the only other places offering food, the restaurant displayed the prices upfront and people could come at any time.

Best of all, it actually tasted good. 

The US followed suit shortly after.

Many will argue that The Restorator in Boston was the first modern restaurant in the US.

It was similar to the taverns in the area but modeled on the now well-established restaurants in France. 

Let’s take a look at the most interesting facts about US restaurants. 

How Many Restaurants Are There in the U.S. in 2024?

1. There Are Nearly 750,000 Restaurants In The US

It’s difficult to confirm the exact number of restaurants as the numbers change frequently. 

According to Zippia there were 749,404 restaurants in the US in 2023.

However, the National Restaurant Association states there were over one million restaurants in the US before the global pandemic.

The difference in numbers is staggering and illustrates how many restaurants were unable to survive the lockdowns connected to the pandemic. 

It’s important to note that this number covers all types of restaurants, from traditional sit-down to fast-food establishments and even food trucks

(Zippia, The Small Business Blog)

2. Restaurant Sales Are Estimated To Be $997 Billion In 2023

It’s estimated that annual US restaurant revenue dropped by $205.3 billion in the first year of the pandemic.

This figure represents a 23% drop in revenue!

In 2019 the US restaurant industry had a combined revenue of $864.3 billion.

Once the pandemic hit in 2020, this dropped to $659 billion.

Thankfully the industry has recovered.

However, it has taken several years and the industry has changed significantly during this time. 

Revenue in 2021 reached $731.5 and in 2022 the industry revenue managed to surpass pre-COVID levels, reaching $898 billion. 

The industry is expected to continue growing.

Current estimates suggest it will generate $997 billion by the end of 2023.

It’s worth noting that in 2021 the majority of restaurant sales came from the limited-service sector of the industry.

They achieved $313.6 billion in revenue, full-service restaurants only achieved $220.8 billion.

Bars and taverns managed just $13.9 billion, suggesting they were the sector hardest hit.

Other food establishments managed $183.2 billion. 

(The Small Business Blog)

3. McDonalds Took $46 Billion In Revenue In 2021

McDonalds Took $46 Billion In Revenue In 2021 - How Many Restaurants Are There

Unsurprisingly, McDonalds often takes the award for the most profitable champion restaurant.

It’s hard to compete with its popularity and pricing structure. 

As a takeaway business with an established drive-through option, it was easier for McDonalds to continue trading through the pandemic. 

Of course, dining in was often not an option but the fast-food chain still managed to record $46 billion in revenue during 2021.

The second place, according to revenue, goes to Starbucks which earned over $24 billion, while Chick-fil-A earned approximately $16 billion. 

Taco Bell also features high on the list with $12.62 billion of sales and Wendy’s managed $11.11.

The top eight list is rounded off with Dunkub with a revenue of $10.42 billion, Burger King with $10.03 billion, and Subway which generated just $9.4 billion. 

In short, restaurant businesses adapted and many chains still flourished despite the pandemic. 

(The Small Business Blog)

4. Over 51% Of Restaurant Workers Are White

The latest figures indicate that 51% of all restaurant industry employees are white.

The majority of white employees are managers, supervisors, chefs, cooks, and bartenders, although white people are in all parts of the restaurant industry. 

What’s interesting about this figure is the ratio.

It’s estimated 71% of the US population is white, which means the restaurant industry has more people of other ethnicities than the average population. 

The survey showed 25.1% of restaurant employees are Hispanic and 13.1% are black or African American.

In the general population 19% are Hispanic and 12% are black.

It further illustrates how the restaurant industry is often the default service sector for ethnic groups other than white. 

Just 6.7% of the industry is Asian and 0.6% are Native American. 

(The Small Business Blog)

5. 12 Million People Are Employed In The US Restaurant Industry

Statistics show roughly 2.4 million restaurant workers lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

In fact, 74% of those unemployed in December 2020 were restaurant industry workers. 

The industry had been steadily growing for many years.

In 2012 there were 9.9 million employees, by 2013 this had increased to 10.3 million, and employee numbers reached 11 million in 2015. 

Numbers continued to climb by two or three million every year.

By 2019 it had peaked at 12.1 million. 

Then, the pandemic hit and employee numbers dropped to 6.4 million!

Almost half of all restaurant industry employees lost their jobs. 

The good news is that numbers have bounced back.

In 2021 employee numbers climbed back to 10.3 million and by 2023 they have, once again, hit 12 million.

The only question is where does it go from here.  

(The Small Business Blog)

6. 54% Of US Restaurant Workers Are Female

The latest report from the National Restaurant Association shows that 54.5% of all US restaurant workers are female. 

Interestingly, the majority of chefs are male, around 85% of them.

Waiting staff are predominantly female, approximately 70% are female, while 57% are bartenders.

It’s likely the high percentage of women in customer-facing restaurant jobs is designed to increase sales.

Women also lose out in management positions, although it is a more even split: 50.7% are male and 49.3% are female.

However, women do well in supervisor positions with 56% of these roles going to women. 

(National Restaurant Association)

7. 90% Of US Restaurants Have Less Than 50 Employees

A 2022 survey by the National Restaurant Association found that the majority, a staggering 90%, of all US restaurants have less than 50 employees.

This figure is heavily influenced by restaurant type.

In 2021 it was estimated there were 102,000 chain restaurants.

That means there were 650,000 independent restaurants. 

In most cases, independent restaurants are small, perhaps even one-location businesses.

It’s rare for a location to be big enough to justify more than 50 employees, hence the high percentage of restaurants with less than 50 employees. 

Many of those employed in the US restaurant industry are connected to large chain restaurants and franchises.

That’s the businesses which need multiple employees and supervisors. 

(National Restaurant Association)

8. Since The Pandemic 51% Of Americans Use Restaurant Delivery Services

Since The Pandemic 51% Of Americans Use Restaurant Delivery Services - How Many Restaurants Are There

The pandemic changed the way people shop and eat.

Post-pandemic there has been a huge increase in people shopping online and using a restaurant delivery service.

This trend means that 51% of Americans now use delivery services and order food from their favorite restaurants. 

A further 26% of Americans confirm they get a takeout at least once a week. 

In addition to the increase in food delivery, the amount people are spending appears to be increasing. 

34% of respondents spend over $50 when they order via a food delivery service.

26% spend over $25 and an impressive 14% spend over $100.

Just 12% of those surveyed spend between $50 and $100, while a further 12% spend upwards of $150.


How Many Restaurants Are There in the World in 2024?

  • It’s estimated there are over 15 million restaurants in the world
  • 90% of restaurant visitors will check social media first
  • 31% of restaurants reduced the number of items on the menu in 2022
  • Food delivery mobile apps are expected to earn $16.6 billion in 2023

9. It’s Estimated There Are Over 15 Million Restaurants In The World

The US is home to approximately 750,000 restaurants.

However, there are around 15 million restaurants on the planet! 

China is where the majority of these restaurants are located.

Its population of 1.45 trillion people have access to 9.3 million restaurants!

India takes the second spot, but with 4.1 million, it has only half the number of China.

The US takes the third spot, closely followed by Japan and Brazil.

Surprisingly, Russia and Spain take the number 10 spot with just 400,000 restaurants. 

It’s worth noting that the number of food establishments doesn’t always equate to quality.

France has around 300,000 food establishments and yet it has 626 restaurants with Michelin stars, more than any other country.


10. 90% Of Restaurant Visitors Will Check Social Media First

This isn’t a surprising fact in the modern digital age, but it’s still impressive.

It’s becoming normal to check the internet before purchasing anything.

While 90% of restaurant visitors will look at social media and the restaurant website before deciding on a venue, just 33% will read the restaurant reviews on their website before deciding. 

On average, 77% of people will look at the restaurant website to see images of the place and the menu options.

Thirty percent of those surveyed said they won’t visit a restaurant if the website looks dated or the menu is hard to read. 

The majority of visitors will look at social media to read restaurant reviews and will base their decision on those reviews. 

This statistic highlights the importance of restaurants having an online profile and keeping it up to date. 


11. 31% Of Restaurants Reduced The Number Of Items On The Menu In 2022

Inflation, specifically the cost of food, is an essential calculation in any restaurant business.

It’s only possible to pass on so much of the additional costs or risk losing customers. 

In short, most restaurants are looking for ways to save money and cope with increased food prices without scaring off all their customers. 

The logical response has been to reduce the number of items offered on a menu.

This encourages visitors to buy the remaining dishes, increasing the number of these sold, and allowing the restaurant to benefit from bulk-buying discounts.

The latest figures suggest that nearly a third of all restaurants are adopting this approach to help deal with the global inflation issue. 


12. Food Delivery Mobile Apps Are Expected To Earn $16.6 Billion In 2023

Food Delivery Mobile Apps Are Expected To Earn $16.6 Billion In 2023 - How Many Restaurants Are There

Mobile food delivery apps were already gaining traction across many parts of the globe, before the pandemic hit. 

Covid-19 simply hastened the transition to mobile apps, ensuring that more people than ever before could safely order food and have it delivered with minimal risk of carrying infections. 

The latest research shows that the market is likely to be worth $16.6 billion by the end of 2023, an impressive 30% increase on 2019 figures. 

(Allied Market Research)

Summing Up

How many restaurants are there? A lot! The simple truth is, with close to a million establishments in the US and 15 million across the globe, there is never a shortage of somewhere to eat. 

The restaurant industry is exceptionally good at adapting, this is partly possible due to its diversity.

Of course, the fact that restaurants are interwoven with local cultures also helps. 

One thing the above statistics make clear, this industry is thriving and is likely to continue providing fond memories for diners for many years to come. 

This industry currently accounts for 4% of the US GDP, that’s more than the automobile industry or even fashion.

The desire to enjoy good food in good surroundings isn’t about to change.


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