(Bloomberg) — New restaurants continued to open this year at a relatively fast pace despite the pandemic, data released Thursday show.
The rate of recent openings is ahead of 2018, 2017 and 2016, according to data compiled by Yelp (NYSE:) Inc., which books online restaurant reservations and posts business reviews.
In September, there were only 100 fewer new restaurant openings nationwide compared with a year earlier, Yelp said. Moreover, new restaurant openings last quarter were only down 10% compared to the third quarter of 2019.
After a sharp drop in April, restaurants started rebounding with a 29% monthly increase of new openings from May to July, Yelp said. August and September were relatively flat — but more than 6,000 new restaurants still opened each of those months, according to the report.
In addition to restaurants, more seafood and farmers’ markets as well as food trucks launched this year, Yelp said.
Recent restaurant openings are “pandemic-optimized,” featuring more outdoor space, less table density and designed for efficiency, according to the report. Consumer searches for outdoor seating increased fivefold last quarter from the same period in 2019, Yelp said.
Although outdoor dining has been a boon to restaurants during warm months and many eateries are adding heat lamps as the weather cools, it remains to be seen how they will adapt during frigid winters.
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