Three years after the pandemic hit, restaurant reservations have fully returned to pre-health crisis numbers. According to Open Table data, reservations were 3.3% higher in January than in 2019, indicating significant improvement over the past year.
Dining patterns vary across the United States, and some markets still face challenges. But a few Sun Belt cities have fared better than most in bringing people back to restaurants. In Miami, for example, the number of seated diners increased by 50.4% in January compared to January 2019. This rebound was followed by Austin, Texas, where the number of diners climbed by 23.1%, and Phoenix, where the figure rose 12.6%.
The reason Sun Belt cities have performed better could be attributed to their strong population and household income growth in recent years, along with a rise in year-over-year retail rents, a recent JLL report suggested. The warmer weather in these regions and a relaxation of COVID-related restrictions also have contributed to a quicker recovery in the restaurant industry.