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USA, Restaurant Openings Recovered

CONTENTS
1. Reopening Resilience
2. Restaurants in 2020
KEY POINTS

In Q3, we observed restaurant and food businesses open at pre-pandemic levels, due largely to the innovative ways business owners moved their operations outside during the milder months and prioritized opening less traditional food services – such as farmers markets and food trucks

When Businesses Reopen More Than Once

During the initial U.S. outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in March, business owners and consumers assumed that nationwide temporary closures would last just a few weeks before everything was “back to normal.” As the outbreak transformed into a full fledged international pandemic with waves of case volumes, business closure guidelines were lifted and restarted several times depending on the area’s infection rates..

Many local entrepreneurs were forced to temporarily close and reopen multiple times throughout the year.

Yelp data tracks all temporary closures of businesses and their subsequent openings, revealing that many local entrepreneurs were forced to temporarily close and reopen multiple times throughout the year. For many industries such as restaurants and food based businesses this is a costly process. Since March 1, 173,727 businesses reopened once after a temporary closure, 38,702 businesses reopened twice, and 17,780 businesses reopened three times or more. Businesses in restaurants, food, shopping, active, health, and beauty categories comprised more than 91% of the businesses that had to reopen twice and 87% of businesses that reopened three times or more.

Despite the ongoing pandemic and surging cases, restaurants focused their operations on outdoor dining, delivery and takeout, and in some locations, indoor dining when allowed. Businesses in the restaurant and food categories had 3,512 reopenings and 1,142 reopenings in Q4, respectively.

USA Business Reopening chart
USA Business Reopening

Restaurant Openings Had Mostly Recovered by Q4

Opening a business amidst an international pandemic is no easy feat, especially when the virus is airborne and the business is a restaurant. Entrepreneurs in the restaurant and food categories focused on health and safety, as well as new approaches to serve their customers, such as takeout and outdoor dining.

Yelp’s data indicates that the number of restaurant and food business openings approached and even surpassed 2019 levels in Q4. Openings are determined by counting new businesses listed on Yelp. Restaurant and food business owners opened 18,207 restaurants nationwide in Q4, down only 4% from Q4 2019 – and down only 16% comparing the full year of 2020 to 2019. In October 2020, 12 more restaurants were opened than in October of 2019.

New openings were up year-over-year, in Q4, for grab-and-go food services including: food trucks (1,507 openings), desserts (1,410 openings), gourmet food stores (955 openings), and bakeries (913 openings).

USA New Restaurant Openings chart
USA New Restaurant Openings
Key Points
  • Business closure guidelines were lifted and restarted several times
  • Restaurants focused their operations on outdoor dining, delivery and takeout
  • Entrepreneurs in the restaurant focused on new approaches to serve their customers, such as takeout and outdoor dining.