Things are looking better for independent restaurants. A new report from The NPD Group finds them to be over half (53%) of total restaurants in the country.

The data consists of independently owned restaurants with one or two locations, the types of establishments that we all watched shutter-up in 2020. NPD reports that we lost 28,399 units that year, which represents an 8% decline.

But data ending September 2021 indicates a recovery was starting almost immediately. A small, but meaningful 2,893 units were added to the nation’s inventory* when it was thought the decline would continue.

Independents are the color and culture of their communities.

Further good omens can be found within the ordering activity of existing establishments. Restaurants have to have a certain ordering volume to qualify for broadline distributors like U.S. Foods or Sysco. That quality can be a marker for general health. The volume of these larger restaurants’ orders increased by 27% in the 12 months ending March 2022.

Another indicator is the amount spent on each order, “Dollars shipped from broadline foodservice distributors to independents were up 47% in the year ending March 2022 compared to the same period a year ago, a 25% increase compared to the pre-pandemic period in the 12 months ending March 2019, reports NPD’s SupplyTrack service.” However, this must be taken within the context of inflation and higher commodity pricing.

Independent restaurants are the parts of a community that provide color and culture. It’s good for us all when they are healthy, and it’s great to see them start to recover.

*NPD’s Fall 2021 ReCount®️