Eighty Years Later and Still Goin’ Strong…
In 1933, Irving Slobod published The List of Restaurant Chains, a compilation of a few hundred restaurant operators across the country that he had personally contacted and verified. Each listing included a company name and address (but not phone number), the number of stores operated, and at least one executive’s name. At the time, the U.S. population was still under 123 million, and the average annual salary was below $1,400. The 1929 Census of Retail Trade showed a grand total of almost 97,000 restaurants and cafeterias in operation across the country that employed 372,000 full-time workers, and generated industry sales of almost $1.8 billion.
This month, 80 years later, Chain Store Guide will publish the direct descendent of Irving’s first List, the 2013 Directory of Chain Restaurant Operators. The current Census shows that nearly 309 million people call the U.S. home, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows average annual wages of $45,790. The most recent Economic Census reveals more than 489,000 full- and limited-service restaurants that employ nearly 8 million workers and generate total sales of $343.6 billion.
Over the past eight decades, Irving’s List of basic contact information has evolved and grown to the current Chain Restaurant Operators Database of 7,800 listings, including 745 companies that were added this past year. In addition to contact information, listings include number of locations and their trade names, menu types, and type of foodservice, trading areas, growth plans, sales, primary wholesalers, key personnel, and more.
Each listing averages nearly five personnel names, and in the largest 200 companies, there is an average of 31 names per company. The online Plus Database includes more than 22,000 personal email addresses, an overall fill rate of 62% (97% for the Top 200 companies).
The 2013 Database reflects more than 61,000 data point changes over the previous year, ranging from changes in store counts and trading areas, corporate relocations, personnel additions/deletions/promotions, to new sales numbers and more. U.S. foodservice sales from the companies in the Database total more than $355 billion, up 4.4% over the previous year. Nearly 7,200 unique restaurant names can be found in this database, and that number is changing every week.
The most recent year continued to illustrate the interest of venture capitalists and private equity firms in the foodservice industry as they took over dozens of companies. Among the larger such transactions were Centerbridge Partner’s purchase of P.F. Chang’s, Angelo, Gordon & Co.’s buyout of Benihana, Sentinel Capital Holdings acquisition of Huddle House, China’s Dailan Wanda Group’s purchase of AMC Entertainment, Germany’s Joh. A. Benckiser’s acquisition of both Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Caribou Coffee Co., and Fidelity National Financial’s takeover of both O’Charley’s and J. Alexander’s. Most recently, Ignite Restaurant Group completed its acquisition of the Romano’s Macaroni Grill chain.
Another significant trend was the change in status in public ownership of a number of large companies. Bloomin’ Brands (formerly OSI Restaurant Partners and operator of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill, and others) became a publicly-held company several years after going private. Ignite Restaurant Group (operating as Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap) and Fiesta Restaurant Group, a spin-off from Carrols Restaurant Group, both went public in May.
On the other side of the trend were the going-private actions of the previously mentioned Benihana, P.F. Chang’s, O’Charley’s, Caribou Coffee, and J. Alexander’s. Bob Evans Farms sold its Mimi’s Café operations to another restaurant operating company eight years after purchasing the chain. All of these changes are reflected in the current Database.
Chain Store Guide is proud of its 80-year legacy of providing its customers with the most complete, current, and accurate business leads available anywhere. And for more complete coverage of the foodservice industry, consider the Database of High Volume Independent Restaurants and the Database of Foodservice Distributors.
Linda Helman, Senior Editor
Chain Store Guide