CHD Expert, a Chicago-based foodservice database and analytics firm, announced that the overall U.S. restaurant sector is growing; after six years, the market is back to the level it was at in 2009.

According to CHD Expert’s “2009-2014 Commercial Trends Data Report,” last year yielded a 2% positive net market change in the total number of operating U.S. restaurant establishments. This translates to a net gain of 14,648 operators nationwide, which is up from 2013’s 1.2% net market change, when a net of 8,906 operators opened nationwide.

On the flipside, the report also showed that over 316,000 commercial operators closed over the past six years, which is almost 40% of the entire market total.

Alaska experienced the largest negative change with a -5.5% decrease, followed by Hawaii (-2.5%) and Wyoming (-1.6%). Half of the Top 10 states with the largest losses experienced a less than 1% negative change.

However, the overall market change percent for states was positive. The openings and closings for restaurants and bars in the years 2009-2014 improved every year, with a steady incline since 2012.

Last year’s nationwide trend was growth. The Top 3 states with the largest increases in the market included Texas (9.2%), North Dakota (4.9%) and Florida (4.8%).

The report also shows that the majority of menu segments also experienced positive net changes in 2014. America’s shift toward healthy eating and fresh food prepared to order has heavily impacted the restaurant landscape, with more fast casual establishments (e.g. Chipotle, Panera Bread, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop) opening to meet consumer demand.

While demand dictated that some chains open more locations across the nation, the overall chain restaurant segment saw a 0.8% decline in 2014, with a net market loss of approximately 1,800 units. The bright side is that independent operators carried the industry growth via a 2.8% positive market change, adding approximately 12,000 units. CHD Expert defines a chain restaurant as an establishment or brand with 10 or more restaurants in operation. Fewer than that is classified as independent.

The independent smoothies/juice segment achieved an 8.7% positive market change in 2014, with many independent operators opening their doors to take advantage of healthy quick-service options.

Another 2014 rebound was seen in both the fine dining and upscale restaurant segments. Despite experiencing decline in the previous years, these more expensive dining options finally saw positive market change year over year since 2013. Bakery and frozen dessert establishments also saw sizable positive growth in 2014, at 8.8% and 8.6% respectively.

As a whole, the U.S. restaurant industry is showing positive change, with 58,081 new restaurants opening their doors in 2014, a 22% increase over 2013.

“The health of the restaurant industry correlates strongly with the health of the economy, and it is encouraging to see many new establishments beginning their journey to success,” says Brad Bloom, vice president of sales and marketing for CHD Expert, The Americas. “Americans are going to restaurants, from the trendy and new to the time-tested and loved, in record numbers. It is truly part of our culture, and when we have disposable income, going out to eat with friends, family and even by ourselves is one of our favorite things to do. This has a trickle-down effect on the economy because as restaurants more quickly turn over tables, they will need a consistent and high-quality source of materials, be it food, kitchen equipment, front-of-house supplies and/or the countless other odds and ends that a restaurant needs to operate.”