Foodservice micro-chains growing in major cities

by Bob Sims
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NPD Group reports micro-chain units are growing even as independent restaurant numbers shrink.
Single and two-unit restaurants are a growing niche in the foodservice segment, according to NPD Group research.
 
CHICAGO – Global information company, The NPD Group, reports that total independent restaurant counts have declined 4 percent, but micro-chain units in major US cities are increasing. Often local, micro-chains are the next evolutionary step for successful single and two-unit restaurant businesses and represent a niche segment based on emerging food trends, positive customer experience and a knack for connecting with today’s restaurant consumer.

“Micro-chains are bringing to the restaurant scene a new attitude and perspective,” said Annie Roberts, vice president of NPD’s SupplyTrack. “Many are successful because they have their finger on the pulse of today’s restaurant consumer. They are often locally based and offer their customers a creative concept, great food, and an enjoyable experience. What’s not to like?”

According to NPD’s biannual restaurant census, Dallas-Fort Worth leads the charge with a 5 percent gain in micro-chains from a year ago. Other major cities seeing strong increases include Orlando (up 4 percent), Atlanta and Washington DC (up 3 percent), San Francisco and Houston (up 2 percent) and Chicago (up 1 percent). Philadelphia and New York remained flat while Boston dropped by 2 percent.

NPD’s SupplyTrack, which tracks monthly sales of every product shipped from leading broadline distributors to each of their foodservice operators, reported micro-chains increased their total spend for foods and goods with broadline distributors by 5 percent and cases ordered by 3 percent compared to Q1 one year ago. In comparison, the total dollar spend for all restaurant and retail foodservice operators with major broadline foodservice distributors was 2 percent and cases ordered were up 1 percent.

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