5 Takeaways From the National Restaurant Association’s Recent Operator Poll

The association took operators' temperatures on labor challenges, price increases, supply chain challenges and more.

Among the challenges operators reported to the National Restaurant Association were rising food costs as well as food and beverage shortages, both of which are driving menu changes.

While a new year has begun, wary operators are steeled for familiar, lingering challenges, suggests a just-released National Restaurant Association survey of restaurant operators.

“Moderate but positive employment growth across the economy and elevated consumer spending in restaurants will allow the restaurant industry to kick off 2023 on a more optimistic note than the last few years, but operators remain braced for potential challenges in the new year,” says Hudson Riehle, the association’s senior vice president of research.

The National Restaurant Association took 3,000 operators’ temperatures on a variety of topics, from hiring woes and menu price increases, to supply chain challenges and profit expectations. Here are five stats worth knowing:

1. 96%

of restaurant operators say they experienced supply delays or shortages of key food or beverage items in the past six months.* Of those reporting this issue, roughly 76% say they made changes to their menus as a result.

2. 92%

of operators say food costs are a “significant challenge” for their restaurant; this challenge was tailed by labor costs (cited by 89%), and energy and utility costs (cited by 63%). As a result of rising costs, 87% say they raised menu prices.

3. 87%

of operators say they will likely hire additional employees in the next 6-12 months* if qualified applicants are available. Yet, 57% say they’d likely lay off employees in that same time span if business conditions deteriorate and the U.S. economy enters a recession.

4. 81%

of operators adding fees or surcharges to customer checks expect this practice to remain necessary for more than a year. Of those surveyed, 15% say they are currently adding fees or surcharges.

5. 78%

of operators reported that they experienced supply delays or shortages of equipment or service items in recent months.*

*As of November 2022, when the survey was conducted.

Want more data? Riehle, among other industry watchdogs, shared a plethora of it in FER’s 2023 State of the Industry report



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