Jan 18, 2023 - Food and Drink

Chicago dining still recovering, OpenTable data shows

Change in OpenTable seated dining reservations since 2019
Data: OpenTable; Chart: Axios Visuals

Restaurant reservations have rebounded to above pre-pandemic levels nationally, but based on reservations made through OpenTable, they're still lagging locally.

Why it matters: Around 10% of all statewide jobs are in food service, according to the Illinois Restaurant Association.

  • Chicago's restaurant industry drives tourism and stimulates the local economy — not to mention providing all that tasty food.

By the numbers: Though the OpenTable data show national reservations have risen 1% over 2019, Illinois and Chicago numbers still lag by 21%.

  • In Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, reservations remain at 38% and 18% below 2019 levels, respectively.
  • But in Texas, for example, reservations have jumped 20%.

What they're saying: "The restaurant industry continues to adjust to the new normal," Sam Toia, CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, tells Axios. "According to our most recent survey data, most Illinois restaurant operators believe that it will be more than a year before favorable business conditions return."

  • "As a result, restaurants are exploring new ways to be profitable, including a renewed focus on catering, private dining, special promotions, and new partnerships. We need to support our community in every way we can to ensure a bright future for restaurants on their path to recovery."

One bright spot: After months of raising prices because of steep food costs, Honey Butter Fried Chicken recently lowered its menu prices in response to declining chicken costs.

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