Driven by population growth and an expanding economy, the restaurant industry continued to add locations at a steady pace in 2018. In fact, the restaurant industry added a net 13,817 establishments in 2018, an increase of 2.2%, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, D.C.

The 2018 expansion followed a strong net increase of 15,169 locations (+2.5%) in 2017, and represented the third consecutive year in which the restaurant industry grew by at least 10,000 establishments. 

In comparison, the overall private sector added a net 196,893 business locations in 2018, a 2.1% increase over 2017. The 2018 gain represented the strongest annual increase since 2006, when the economy expanded by more than 210,000 business establishments.

Within the restaurant industry, the quick-service segment added the most units in 2018—a net 4,982 establishments in 2018, a 2.1% increase over 2017, and the fifth consecutive year with growth of more than 4,000 locations.

The full-service segment added a net 3,717 locations in 2018, which was down from a gain of 4,867 units in 2017. Despite the slowdown, 2018 represented the third consecutive year in which the full-service segment added more than 3,000 establishments. 

The number of mobile foodservice establishments jumped 14.1% in 2018, which represented the segment’s eighth consecutive year with double-digit percent growth.

On the state level, trends were mostly positive in 2018, and restaurant location growth was generally strongest in regions experiencing the largest population and employment gains. Forty-six states (including the District of Columbia) added eating and drinking place locations in 2018, while only 5 states experienced a decline in units. 

California led the nation by adding a net 4,058 eating and drinking place establishments in 2018, while Texas added a net 1,397 locations.

Arizona led the way in percentage terms, with a solid 6.5% increase in eating and drinking place establishments in 2018. South Carolina saw its restaurant industry expand by 5.6% in 2018, while California added locations at a 5.4% rate.