With the economy in rebound mode, more people are going out to eat, which is helping the restaurant industry experience some of its best sales numbers since the beginning of the downturn.
According to the 23rd edition of the Chain Restaurant Industry Review, year-over-year sales are expected to increase by 3.8 percent in 2013 to reach $441.9 billion.
"The activity has been driven by the improving economy, changing consumer habits and shifting U.S. demographics. People who are investing in the restaurant industry understand the importance of three factors – operational performance, financial metrics and asset strategy – and how they have changed through the latest cycle," Agustin Carcoba, president and chief executive officer of GE Capital Franchise Finance, told the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
The industry was also buoyed by the latest sales number for April, with sales at eating and drinking establishments across the U.S. reaching $45.9 billion.
"Last month was a shock," Ryan Lowder, the chef and owner of the Copper Onion in Salt Lake City, told NBC News. He said his sales were up 20 percent over April of 2012. "The increase last month was killer. I'm not complaining."
Lowder said that the increase may have been due in part to the warm weather, but he told the news agency that he has also seen a trend in spending overall.