Restaurants in America – What Owners Need to Know - GoldStar ATM

A Growing Industry Means Big Numbers for Restaurateurs

Dining out in America is serious business. In 2017, Americans spent $798.7 billion dollars in food and drink at restaurants.[i] That’s almost a trillion dollars in one year.

Image of customers eating breakfast at a restaurantMillennials and Generation Xers tend to be the largest portion of those eating outside of the home. On average, people aged 25-34 spent $3,450 in restaurants in 2018. Those aged 35-44 spent on average $4,395 and Gen Xers from ages 45-54 spent an average $4,397 in restaurants in 2018.[ii]

With this amount of spending on the table, so to speak, it’s no wonder there are so many restaurants in the U.S. In spring of 2018 there were 660,775 restaurants in America, which is up from spring 2016, when there were 624,301 restaurants in the U.S.[iii]

From Fast Food to Fine Dining

Restaurants in America are typically broken up into two categories: full-service restaurants and limited-service restaurants.

Image of full-service restaurantFor full-service restaurants, most sales occurred on-site, to the tune of 82%. 15% of sales from full-service restaurants were carry out orders, and the remaining 3% of sales come from deliveries and drive through.[iv]

Limited-service service restaurants saw a larger number of their sales as carry out, equaling 34% of sales. On-premises sales for limited-service restaurants equaled 30% of sales, and drive-thru services equaled 32%. Deliveries made of the remainder of sales, coming in at 4%.[v]

Competing in a Crowded Field

With both full-service and limited-service restaurants making the bulk of their sales either in-house or as carry out, restaurants need to be creative in ways to attract customers to walk through their doors and spend money.

Restaurateurs utilize many different options to drive up profits. From social media reviews and farm-to-table menu options to drink specials and theme nights, restaurants are running the gamut to get people in their doors.

A Little Adds Up to A Lot

One way restaurants can earn extra profits is to install ATMs for restaurants. When a restaurant installs an ATM in their store, they can earn money on each withdrawal transaction that occurs. And those transactions can add up to a lot of extra income.

Image of Indian restaurant buffetAdditionally, customers with cash are more likely to spend that cash, which for restaurants equates more sales in food and drinks. According to a 2018 report from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), “Cash continues to be the most frequently used payment instrument, representing 30 percent of all transactions and 55 percent of transactions under $10.” So, by adding an in-house ATM, restaurants are encouraging customers to spend more money in store.

As the restaurant industry in America continues to grow, restaurants are wise to take a look at the demographics of who is eating out and how they choose to spend their money. By adding enticing amenities to their stores, restaurants are more likely to get customers in the door, and keep them coming back again and again.


[i] Restaurant Informer. (April 30, 2017). Restaurant industry food and drink sales in the United States from 1970 to 2017 (in billion U.S. dollars) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved October 10, 2019

[ii] Bureau of Labor Statistics. (September 10, 2019). Average food away from home household expenditure in the United States in 2018, by age (in U.S. dollars) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved October 28, 2019

[iii] NPD Group. (August 22, 2018). Number of restaurants in the United States from 2011 to 2018* [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved October 28, 2019

[iv] IFMA. (August 7, 2018). Share of on and off premises sales of full-service restaurants in the United States in 2018 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved October 28, 2019

[v] IFMA. (August 7, 2018). Share of on and off premises sales of limited-service restaurants in the United States in 2018 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved October 28, 2019

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