Houston Restaurant Trends 2023: Annual Industry Report

  • A breakdown of the top Houston restaurant trends for 2023
  • Doexen of stats and industry insights
  • Stores from real restaurateurs in Houston
  • Tips for increasing revenue and cutting expenses
Cover of the 2023 Houston State of Restaurants Reports.

The past few years have not been easy for restaurants in Houston. From pandemic-induced dining restrictions to record-breaking inflation, operators have been forced to dramatically alter the way they run their businesses. And with even more changes on the horizon, operators will need to stay on their toes to anticipate the latest Houston restaurant trends.

To uncover these emerging trends and help operators in Houston prepare for the year ahead, we interviewed and surveyed dozens of restaurateurs to put together the 2023 Houston Restaurant Report. This survey was part of our larger 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. This wealth of data not only reveals the latest Houston restaurant industry trends, but also helps operators understand how they compare to their peers across the country.

Inside our 2023 Houston Restaurant Report, you’ll find:

  • Houston restaurant stats and insights
  • First-hand stories from full service restaurant owners in Houston
  • Benchmarks for menu pricing, staffing, finances, and more
  • Strategies for increasing profitability and spurring restaurant recovery

Here you’ll find a sneak peek at some of the top Houston restuarant trends for 2023. To get even more Houston restaurant stats and insights, download the full Houston State of Restaurants Report for free now.

The Top Houston Restaurant Trends for 2023

Even a few years out from the worst of the pandemic, Houston’s ​​restaurateurs are still recovering from the impact of this monumental event. On average, operators in Houston say that sales volume has returned to 65% of pre-pandemic levels, which is about 10% behind the U.S. national average. This suggests that while restaurants in Houston are starting to recover, the process has been a bit slower here than in other cities.

Part of the reason for Houston’s slower recovery may be due to rising food prices, which continue to eat into profits. In fact, more than half (56%) of operators in Houston said that food and inventory costs were their biggest sources of financial strain this past year. This is an issue that is expected to define the top Houston restaurant trends and continue to impact the way operators run their businesses.

Based on the data collected in our 2023 Houston Restaurant Report, here are the top trends to watch.

The Battle Against Menu Price Increases

Across the U.S., menu prices have been steadily creeping up. In fact, our 2023 State of Restaurants Report found that 53% of restaurateurs reported raising menu prices in the past six months. On average, restaurateurs across the U.S. raised prices by about 15%.

However, restaurateurs in Houston appear to have largely resisted raising menu prices. In fact, less than a third (31%) of operators in Houston said they raised menu prices in the past six months. Among the Houston restaurateurs who did opt to raise prices, 15% was the average menu price increase.

On the one hand, raising menu prices can be an effective way to offset rising food costs. But as many savvy operators in Houston have likely observed, diners are only willing to tolerate so many price hikes. It’s likely that one of the biggest Houston restaurant industry trends will be operators continuing to find the balance between necessary price hikes and consumer sensitivities.

Using Promotions to Boost Profitability

While operators in Houston are more hesitant to raise prices than their peers across the country, one profit-boosting strategy they have embraced is introducing new specials and promotions. In fact, 52% of operators in Houston said they had added new promotions or specials (like an extended happy hour) to boost revenue. In contrast, only 41% of Los Angeles operators and just 39% of New York City operators said they had introduced new promotions or specials to achieve the same goal.

Whether it’s a two-for-one takeout special or an extended happy hour, promotions can be an effective way of getting more diners in the door, especially during slower days of the week. Now, the challenge facing Houston operators will be ensuring that these discounts are not so significant that they eat into profits.

Taking Full Advantage of Social Media

Of all the stats uncovered in our Houston restaurant report, perhaps the most impressive is the use of social media among Houstonians. Houston restaurateurs report using social media significantly more than their peers across the U.S., with 80% of Houstonians using Twitter, 77% using Facebook, and 59% using Instagram. TikTok usage is also significantly higher in Houston, with 50% of the city’s operators reportedly using the platform, versus just 40% nationwide. 

While the use of social media for restaurant marketing and promotion is not exactly new, there are some interesting shifts when it comes to which platforms restaurateurs are using. Half of the operators in Houston are already using TikTok to promote their restaurants, which suggests this platform is poised to become a go-to promotion channel in the very near future. Just take the case of Dandelion Cafe, which is one of Houston’s top 10 restaurants and a fixture on TikTok.

And while restaurateurs should never put all their eggs in one social media basket, it’s clear that TikTok is poised to become one of the biggest Houston restaurant trends of 2023.

The above is just a peek at the dozens of insights you’ll find inside our Houston restaurant rep To uncover more Houston restaurant stats and insights, download the full 2023 Houston State of Restaurants Report.

Open book view of the 2023 State of Restaurants Report.
2023 State of Restaurants Report

Get the top trends and insights with our 2023 restaurant industry report.

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Wondering how full service restaurants in Houston compare to other restaurants across the U.S.? Download the complete 2023 State of Restaurants Report.

This study was conducted by research firm Maru Matchbox on behalf of TouchBistro in September 2022.

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, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Miami. Survey results are accurate +/- 4% 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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