Los Angeles is a massive city that’s absolutely filled to the brim with food trucks, bustling bistros, and world-class fine dining. While that’s relatively common knowledge, what isn’t common wisdom is that the L.A. restaurant scene is finally beginning to recover from the grinder that was COVID-19. And believe it or not, those of us at Cuboh are pretty big fans of the restaurant industry - in fact, you might say that it’s kinda our whole thing!
So today, we’re looking at one of the largest restaurant markets in the U.S. to see how it’s doing. We’ll be talking statistics first, but don’t you worry your little head - we’ve got a handful of genuinely exceptional stops for your next visit to La La Land.
Let’s start with the big stuff, shall we? TouchBistro released its annual industry report on Los Angeles Restaurant Trends for the year, and it’s got some juicy numbers. They highlight the pandemic's impact on the industry, with countless dine-in joints being forced to close as traffic dwindled.
This transition has, quite honestly, transformed the Los Angeles restaurant scene - and it seems as though it’s for the better (at least, mostly). Let’s see what the critical points of the report are, shall we? Once we’ve done that, we’ll move on to highlighting some spots that are truly deserving of recognition in the area.
I don’t know about you, but reading through a 30-page report on the health of the restaurant industry just… doesn’t sound fun. Luckily for you, I did it anyway - specifically so you don’t have to! So - how are Los Angeles’ restaurants performing this year? We know trends in the scene are changing, so this is super-handy information for local operators to keep in mind.
Here are the basics:
- TouchBistro interviewed a large number of restaurant insiders. The respondents included:
- Out of the respondents, most that answered had been in the industry less than five years:
- As for the respondents’ relationships with the restaurant, most of them were directly involved in its lifespan:
- Most respondents worked in restaurants with over 40 seats:
- The majority of represented restaurants were family-style:
- 90% of respondents were from independent restaurants, with only 10% being from a chain.
- Annual revenue is split pretty evenly down the middle from less than $1 million and between $1-2 million:
Now, that’s cool and all - but how did these restauranteurs respond to the stuff that really mattered?
This is where things get really interesting. We all know that federal loans were a much-needed lifeline for most business owners during the pandemic. And this study expands on this, showing how many restauranteurs truly lived or died by their federal relief loans. So - what does this tell us?
- The majority of L.A. restaurants were able to increase (27%) or maintain (52%) their sales volume from pre-pandemic.
- Labor costs were the largest source of financial strain for 38% of L.A. restauranteurs, whereas 35% claimed rent as the most significant struggle.
- Nationally, 54% of restauranteurs used personal savings to keep their businesses up and running. In comparison, only 22% of L.A. restauranteurs said the same.
- Restauranteurs were found to be the least likely to be capable of affording the increase in California’s minimum wage, with barely more than half claiming they can afford a 2% increase in wages.
Staffing is the ever-ongoing struggle for restauranteurs; we all know it. But (unsurprisingly), the pandemic made a massive impact on staffing and labor across the country. Signs (often literally) of being short-staffed are expected nowadays, with some joints resorting to sneaking job applications in as paper liners.
But how’s Los Angeles doing in this regard?
- The primary positions that are missing in L.A. restaurants in 2022 are dishwashers and wait staff, with bartenders, chefs, and managers as the next runner-ups:
- Most L.A. operators are short at least 3-4 positions:
- The #1 solution to staffing issues for Los Angeles restaurants is to offer benefits.
- Los Angeles has a far higher turnover rate than similar cities:
- The majority of L.A. operators used social media (42%) and job sites like Indeed (34%) to find new staff.
Finally, we make it to online ordering. Those of us at Cuboh have been shouting from the rooftops (not literally, it’s too hot for that) that online ordering is the future. The pandemic made this clear, and the world (while “recovered” from COVID) hasn’t decided to change its mind. Online ordering is here to stay, especially in Los Angeles:
- The most popular delivery service in Los Angeles is Uber Eats at 59%, with Doordash (29%) and GrubHub (33%) as near competition.
- Most restaurants expanded their online ordering and delivery with the pandemic:
- The most commonly sought tools by operators in an online ordering system are:
- Whereas the most commonly requested tool from operators in online ordering are:
- Almost all operators that implemented online ordering saw an increase in sales volume:
Ultimately, this is only a sneak peek of the absolutely massive report published by TouchBistro. They also cover issues with supply and inventory, POS and payment systems (some of our specialties), customer loyalty, and reservations - which is far too much for this lil’ old article.
Now - it’s time to highlight a few top-notch spots.
And now, ladies, gents, and theybies, it’s time to talk about the hottest new restaurants and food trucks in Los Angeles as of August 2022. Keep in mind that these are new joints, generally opened within the past six months - so don’t expect to find the likes of Pasjoli, Anajak, or Rosalind’s. Those spots are truly excellent, but they’re old names, and we want brand-new ones.
So, here are the five names you need to watch this year - they’re doing some incredible stuff:
While we wish we could highlight every new restaurant in Los Angeles, sadly, it’s not in the cards. Be sure to visit our guides to the best women-led restaurants in America, the most boss babes in the industry, and more - all on our blog.