True Food Kitchen announced earlier this month that Oprah Winfrey will invest in the company and join its board of directors. Her investment in an Arizona-originated restaurant concept epitomizes the strength and rapid growth of Arizona’s restaurant industry.
According to the National Restaurant Association, Arizona’s more than 9,000 restaurants brought in roughly $12 billion in revenue in 2017. In fact, Arizona restaurant sales experienced a 5.7 percent increase from 2016, the fourth-highest growth rate in the nation. This is even more impressive when comparing sales to 2010; in the past seven years, sales have jumped over 52 percent.
Additionally, restaurants in Arizona continue to add new jobs. According to the same report, Arizona restaurants have employed more than 300,000 Arizonans in 2018, which accounts for 11 percent of state employment. In the next decade, the state expects to add over 48,000 more restaurant jobs.
As Arizona continues to draw in more tourism with major sporting events and other visitor attractions, restaurants will play a major role in generating revenue for the economy. Visit Phoenix Director of Research & Business Analysis Eric Kerr explains, “All those mega-events bring sales to the industry. For example, the Super Bowl will have a lot of fine dining restaurant sales because it’s based on a lot of corporate activity. On the other hand, the Final Four will generate a wider distribution of restaurant sales because it brings students and families to the area.”
In fact, Kerr states that according to a 2017 Tourism Economics report, 23 percent of Arizona visitor spending was on food and beverage in 2017, which accounted for $1.79 billion in sales. This represents a 6.8 percent increase year-over-year from 2016.
Furthermore, he goes on to cite a Longwood International consumer report, which shows that Phoenix has a much higher average of tourists participating in fine dining experiences than the national average. 24 percent of Arizona visitors eat at fine food restaurants, compared to 20 percent nationally.
Arizona’s growing restaurant industry continues to attract the attention of investors like Oprah. As the major metropolitan areas of Arizona receive more opportunities like the Super Bowl and the Final Four, restaurants will continue to generate revenue for the state.