Jan 31, 2024 - News

Restaurants bounce back from COVID closures

Data: Yelp; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Yelp; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of new restaurant listings in the Austin metro area rose 14% between 2019 and 2023, according to new Yelp data shared with Axios.

By the numbers: 683 restaurants were newly listed on Yelp in 2023 in the Austin area, compared to 599 in 2019.

Why it matters: The numbers are a promising sign for Austin's restaurant scene, which has struggled after the COVID-19 pandemic, when business halted and many local staples were forced to shutter for good.

  • Yelp's data showed 495 newly listed spots in 2020, a more than 17% dip from the previous year.

The big picture: New restaurant openings in Austin outpaced national figures, per Yelp data.

  • Nearly 53,800 restaurants opened their doors across the country last year, up 10% from 2022 and up 2% from 2019.

What they're saying: "The restaurant industry has proven to be resilient throughout the pandemic, with the industry seeing higher restaurant openings in 2023 than pre-pandemic levels for the first time," says Clifford Cate, vice president and general manager of Yelp Restaurants.

  • "Even through economic challenges, restaurant owners continue to delight their diners, staying responsive to shifts in consumer preferences, like the increasing demand for earlier reservation times and higher-end experiences."

Be smart: Just because a restaurant is new doesn't mean there's a newbie at the helm. Some of these new openings are the product of someone who's been at it once or twice before, such as Uptown Sports Club, Dovetail Pizza, Ling Wu, Poeta and soon-to-come Bambino.

The bottom line: Pandemic-era restaurant closures were gut-wrenching for owners and patrons, but Austin's growing number of openings could be a sign of what's to come.

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