"Have you been eating more at restaurants with waiters rather than fast-food joints? If so, you are not alone, and that in fact is an indication that the American economy is improving.
Over the 12 months through January, sales at what the government calls full-service restaurants were 8.7 percent higher than in the previous 12 months. That was the fastest pace of growth since the late 1990s, when the economy was booming. Moreover, as is seen in the chart above, that rate was much greater than the rate of growth in sales at limited-service restaurants.
Since those numbers became available 20 years ago, that difference has been a reliable indicator of how the economy is going. In tough times, people may still eat out, but they cut back."
The National Restaurant Association's "Restaurant Performance Indexes
" also point to strength in national restaurant activity, and that growth is expected to continue according to the association's "Expectations Index," which measure restaurant owners' six-month outlook for the industry.