Key L.A. Restaurant Industry Statistics & Outliers

Key L.A. Restaurant Industry Statistics & Outliers

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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.

Los Angeles by the Numbers

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.

The Numbers

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:

  • Owners: 23% 
  • Presidents & CEOs: 28%
  • General Managers: 41%
  • Area Managers: 8%

- Out of the respondents, most that answered had been in the industry less than five years:

  • 0-5 years in the industry: 61%
  • 6-15 years in the industry: 35%
  • 15+ years in the industry: 4%

- As for the respondents’ relationships with the restaurant, most of them were directly involved in its lifespan:

  • Started the operation: 38%
  • Expanded the restaurant: 35%
  • Renovated the joint: 41%
  • Bought a pre-existing place: 1%
  • Worked at a pre-existing place: 4%

- Most respondents worked in restaurants with over 40 seats:

  • # of seats (<20): 4%
  • # of seats (21-40): 23%
  • # of seats (41-80): 46%
  • # of seats (81-120): 22%
  • # of seats (120+): 5%

- The majority of represented restaurants were family-style:

  • Brasserie, cafe, or bistro: 16%
  • Bar and/or grill: 20%
  • Fine dining: 18%
  • Family style: 46%

- 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:

  • <$1 million: 46%
  • $1-2 million: 46%
  • $2 million+: 8%

Now, that’s cool and all - but how did these restauranteurs respond to the stuff that really mattered?

L.A. Restaurant Performance & Finances Post-Pandemic

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.

  • In contrast, restauranteurs in New York reported inventory costs as the most prominent financial strain.

- 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.

  • 30% relied on Small Business Administration (SBA) loans
  • 22% used PPP loans
  • The remainder came from various grants, loans, tax credits, and crowdfunding.

- 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. 

  • L.A. Restaurants still remain above the national average profit margin (10%) for restaurants by 1%. 

Los Angeles Labor & Staffing Post-Pandemic

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:

  • Percentage of operators in need of dishwashers: 42% (drastically up from pre-pandemic)
  • Rate of operators in need of wait staff: 33% (up from pre-pandemic)
  • Percentage of operators in need of bartenders: 24% (drastically up from pre-pandemic)
  • Rate of operators in need of chefs: 25% (down from pre-pandemic)
  • Rate of operators in need of managers: 20% (up from pre-pandemic)

- Most L.A. operators are short at least 3-4 positions: 

  • Short 3-4 positions: 37%
  • Short 5-6 positions: 23%
  • Short 7-10 positions: 13%

- 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:

  • Los Angeles restaurant turnover rate: 24%
  • NYC restaurant turnover rate: 18%
  • Dallas restaurant turnover rate: 18%
  • U.S. Average restaurant turnover rate: 23%

- The majority of L.A. operators used social media (42%) and job sites like Indeed (34%) to find new staff.

Los Angeles Online Ordering Post-Pandemic

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:

  • 27% added online ordering for the first time
  • 33% added additional online ordering
  • 40% had already implemented all of their online ordering systems (they’re the smart ones)

- The most commonly sought tools by operators in an online ordering system are:

  • Delivery options (i.e., a pre-established network of delivery drivers)

- 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:

  • 23% saw between an 11-15% increase
  • 33% found a 16-20% increase
  • 21% had a 21-25% increase in sales volume
  • 13% saw a 26-30% rise in sales volume
  • 8% found an over 30% increase
  • 1% had a rise of less than 10% 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. 

Up-and-Comers in the Los Angeles Food Scene

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:

  1. From the minds of Grupo Hunan comes yet another absolute stunner. The group found fame in Mexico City and has quickly established itself as a must-eat stop in the City of Angels.
  1. This is the hardwood-adorned Americana-evoking restaurant of your dreams. They serve flame-grilled meat, the freshest seafood you’ll find in the city, and more in a communally-sat dining room with a flaming hearth in plain view for all to see.
  1. The sons of longstanding Los Angeles favorite The Capri have finally branched out on their own. The result is something genuinely awesome - fine-tuned cocktails, authentic Italian aperitivo, and a truly hip, rustic setting.
  1. Saffy’s comes from the same minds that brought L.A. Bestia and Bavel and serve some of the best wood-fired Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare on the west coast. Their exclusively wood-fired kitchen brings char-kissed love to each meal, and the interior is a Moroccan-inspired, vibrant ode to what makes Saffy’s, well, Saffy’s.
  1. The final entry on our list is Causita, from the mind of Chef Ricardo Zarate. Causita serves Nikkei Peruvian meals that take equal advantage of the hearty flavors of Peruvian cuisine and the rich, umami-layered tradition of Japanese fare with top-notch cocktails and a vibrant patio.

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.


Grow Orders, Save Time & Eliminate Tablet Chaos

Integrate your delivery apps and online orders with your POS and consolidate them into a single tablet. Helping you reduce order issues, grow your sales, and eliminate delivery headaches.

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