It may seem like the big-name chains dominate the restaurant industry,
but that isn't so. According to research by NPD Foodworld,
a research firm that tracks the restaurant industry, independents and
small chains make up 58% of all restaurant sales, about half of all restaurant
visits and control 72% of actual brick-and-mortar restaurants in the U.S.
Michele Schmal, vice president of product management for NPD Foodworld,
says, "Traditionally, customer satisfaction levels at the smaller
restaurants are higher than at the large chain restaurants. Independents
fill a niche market and there will always be successes in this segment...
Independents will always keep the chains on their toes - what's
new and hot and exciting often starts at independents."