Chicago Restaurant Trends: 2024 Industry Report

The 2024 Chicago Restaurants Report standing upright.

  • A breakdown of the 2024 Chicago restaurant trends
  • Dozens of stats and industry insights
  • Stories from real restaurateurs in Chicago
  • Strategies for increasing revenue and decreasing expenses

Restaurateurs in the Windy City have faced their fair share of challenges these past few years, but as our recent Chicago Restaurant Trends Report has uncovered, the past year presented some of the biggest hurdles yet. From sky-high inflation to changing consumer behavior, Chicago restaurants have had to constantly change course in order to stay afloat. 

To get a clearer picture of these emerging Chicago restaurant trends and to pinpoint potential roadblocks along the way, we recently surveyed a number of operators across the city. This survey was part of our larger 2024 State of Restaurants Report, which featured data from more than 600 full service restaurant owners, CEOs, general managers, and area managers from across the U.S. 

Our new 2024 Chicago State of Restaurants Report includes:

  • Dozens of stats on Chicago’s ever-changing restaurant industry
  • First-hand accounts from real restaurant owners in Chicago
  • Data-backed predictions for the top Chicago restaurant trends in 2024

Below, you’ll find a brief preview of the latest Chicago restaurant trends. To dive deeper into these trends, download our free 2024 Chicago Restaurants Report.

The Top Chicago Restaurant Trends for 2024

Like restaurateurs across the U.S., operators in Chicago saw profit slump in 2023 due to stubbornly high inflation and record food costs. While Chicago restaurants did report a higher-than-average profit margin of 9.6%, this was still a major drop from last year’s average of 11.4%.

But while the bottom line did take a hit, Chicago’s ​​restaurateurs managed to carve a path forward and a number of different trends emerged that will no doubt define the year ahead. Below is a preview of some of the top Chicago restaurant trends for 2024.

A Bet on Catering’s Big Comeback

As many people return to the office (at least part-time) and in-person events once again become the norm, Chicago restaurateurs seem to be spotting the potential for catering’s big comeback. One of the most interesting Chicago restaurant stats uncovered in our report was that half (50%) of the city’s operators said they plan to add catering services in the coming year. These plans suggest that operators in Chicago are not only optimistic about the next 12 months, but they also think that catering will be one of the more lucrative restaurant trends in Chicago.

Locally Sourced Ingredients Take Center Stage

With food prices as high as they are, one might guess that operators would be culling items from their menu and whittling things down to just their most profitable dishes. However, operators in Chicago are taking a different approach, and instead betting on trending food and ingredients that will keep customers coming in.

Our Chicago restaurants report found that nearly half (44%) of operators plan to add more locally sourced ingredients in the past six months and more than a third (39%) plan to add more gluten-free options. These are ingredients that operators can justify charging a premium for, and may actually be cheaper to secure, in some cases.

Investing in Online Ordering Tech

During the peak of the pandemic, operators in Chicago and across North America invested heavily in online ordering solutions. And while many predicted that the demand for online ordering would fall, this proved not to be the case. Instead, online ordering sales have leveled out and now act as a significant source of revenue for restaurants. In fact, Chicago operators report that they do more than a quarter (27%) of their business through online ordering platforms and they report seeing an average sales increase of 18% from the platforms. In turn, 52% of operators in Chicago reported adding more off-premise ordering options in the past year to try to increase revenue, suggesting that this technology will be just as essential in 2024 as it has been in the years prior.

The above is just a peek at the dozens of Chicago restaurant stats and insights you’ll find inside our comprehensive Chicago restaurants report. To uncover even more ​​restaurant trends in Chicago, download the full 2024 Chicago State of Restaurants Report.

Wondering how full service restaurants in Chicago compare to other U.S. restaurants? Download the complete 2024 State of Restaurants Report.

2024 State of Restaurant Report
2024 State of Restaurants Report

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This study was conducted by research firm Maru Matchbox on behalf of TouchBistro from June 15 to June 22, 2023. 

More than 600 full service restaurant owners, presidents, and area/general managers were surveyed across all 50 states, with an added focus on six key cities: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, and Miami. The statistically significant survey results are accurate 19 times out of 20. The detailed findings on this research by Maru Public Opinion are available at: Maru Public Opinion US.

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