There is a school of thought that says the restaurant business is always a good business – people need to eat. A glance at the sales of many of America’s largest restaurant chains over the past decade quickly dispels this myth. Using data provided by food industry research firm Technomic, 24/7 Wall St. has looked at restaurant chains with the greatest decline in sales from 2001 to 2010. In every case, sales have fallen 60 percent or more.
Many restaurants on this list are indeed casual, family dining establishments. The majority offer American Style cuisine — e.g., steak and burgers — in a bar or grill setting. These restaurants expanded quickly during the 1990s, but their presence was overshadowed by newer restaurants that consumers found more exciting, according to Tristano. Even now, new “fast-casual” restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Chipotle are outselling, and in many instances replacing, older restaurants.
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