seattletimes.com – PLAINFIELD, Ill. — The way Marcus Mooney saw it, he wasn’t just selling hot dogs — he was selling experiences.
In addition to the classics — a cheese dog and a chili dog — his restaurant, Frank’s Night Out, served hot dogs topped with more exotic ingredients, like a “Surf & Turf Dog” featuring crumbles of garlic-basted Maine lobster.
“There becomes a point where there’s too many choices,” Mooney said recently. “The more restaurants that opened up, the more it took away from business for us.”
After a prolonged stretch of explosive growth, fueled by interest from Wall Street, experts say there are now too many fast-food, casual and other chain restaurants.
Since the early 2000s, banks, private equity firms and other financial institutions have poured billions into the restaurant industry as they sought out more tangible enterprises than the dot-com startups that were going belly-up. There are now more than 620,000 eating and drinking places in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the number of restaurants is growing at about twice the rate of the population.
That trend is evident in the sprawling suburbs southwest of Chicago, where the population is growing fast, but the number of restaurants is growing even faster. Twenty years ago, Mooney would have been competing against about 600 eateries in the region; by the end of last year, that number had more than doubled.
Sales at individual chain restaurants, compared to a year earlier, began dropping in early 2016, analysts reported. A majority of restaurants reported sales growth in just four of the last 22 monthly surveys from the National Restaurant Association. Before that, most restaurants had reported growth for 20 consecutive months, from March 2014 through October 2015, the survey found.
As Americans work longer hours and confront an ever-growing array of food options, they are spending a growing share of their food budget — about 44 cents per dollar — on restaurants, according to food economists at the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.
Yea this is just basic economics lol.. we work more, we’re not going to feel like cooking… we throw away our money… wash, rinse, repeat.