Led by the rapidly growing fast casual segment, the restaurant industry should see significant sales increases in 2011 after getting rocked by the recession.
Consumers who were worried about the economy cut back on dining out in 2008 and 2009. But with modest gains in 2010 pointing to better days ahead, industry analysts believe this year could be the best for restaurants since 2007.
"Consumers are finding some retail therapy in things like eating out," John Herrmann, a senior fixed-income strategist at State Street Global Markets LLC inBoston told Bloomberg. "They may not be ready for that two-week vacation inEuropeyet, but they'll go to a restaurant once every couple of weeks. It's an affordable luxury."