Jan 24, 2024 - Business

New businesses on the rise in Philadelphia but restaurants still recovering

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

New business listings in the Philadelphia metro area jumped 52% between 2019 and 2023 — but new restaurant listings tumbled by 3%, per new Yelp data.

Why it matters: Despite the slowdown in openings, Philadelphia's restaurants were on a tear last year.

Yes, but: Somehow, we're still getting snubbed. Not a single local restaurant made Yelp's top 100 restaurants list for 2024!

By the numbers: 13,254 local businesses were newly listed on Yelp in 2023, up from 8,715 in 2019.

Zoom out: Pennsylvania saw about 12.9 new restaurants listed on Yelp per 100,000 people, per the data.

  • The 1,672 new restaurant listings statewide was a 12.4% jump from 2022.

The big picture: Nationally, the restaurant industry is showing signs of life after a brutal stretch brought on by the pandemic, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • Nearly 53,800 restaurants opened their doors across the country last year, up 10% from 2022 and 2% from 2019, meaning there's been a slight increase in openings compared to pre-pandemic times.

What they're saying: Ben Fileccia of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association tells Axios that 2023 was still a "recovery year" for restaurateurs learning to navigate the post-pandemic industry.

  • "We're seeing a complete rebound now that people have figured out the equation," he says, adding he expects to see an "explosion of new restaurants" this year.

By the numbers: At least 75 new restaurants, many from established restaurateurs, are expected to open in Philly this year, per the Inquirer.

  • Fileccia tells Axios that's the most he can recall in years.

The bottom line: If the new nationwide Yelp data is any indication, maybe COVID-19's impact on the restaurant business was something like a wildfire, clearing out space for new growth in a changed environment.

  • As for Philly, Fileccia says, "there will always be a tipping point" when it comes to having too many food options. "But what spawned Fishtown as an upcoming neighborhood? What was the spark that made East Passyunk a hub for Philly? What makes Rittenhouse Square Rittenhouse Square? Restaurants."
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