Chart of the Day: Metro Restaurant Trends, Chains versus Locals

Via Slate, Yelp has some fun new charts that break down restaurant ranking data according to type of establishment. They chart broad trends over time that show online reviewers are more and more likely to be critical of chain restaurants and positive about local or independent restaurants.

Here’s are the Twin Cities trendlines:

The point that Yelp is trying to make, if there is one, is that people are more often eschewing chain food:

There has been a tremendous rise in independent restaurants over the last five years. … Fast-food chain restaurants have seen a notable decrease in average ratings over the last five years, by about one-third of a star, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars — equivalent to a loss of about 16 percent of their average rating. Similarly, fast-casual chain restaurants have experienced a decline in ratings, by about one-tenth of a rating point on average between 2012 and 2017.

More interesting to me, they also include a break-down of city data across the country showing what the overall Yelp-reviewed restaurant markets look like. This measures quantity of restaurants — the overall “share” — rather than the quantity or food or revenue or anything like that. But it does give you a handy way of comparing Minneapolis’ metro area against other cities in the country.


The chart re-affirms my suspicions. I would have thought that post-war / sunbelt cities are much more likely to be suburban and therefore chain-oriented than pre-war / northeast cities, which would tend to have more walkable diverse cores. The Minneapolis/Saint Paul metro would therefore lie somewhere in the middle, and lo and behold, that’s what we see looking at the chart. The Twin Cities has after all pioneered a great number of suburban retail models, like Target and the indoor shopping mall, that have managed to coexist alongside our more traditional small business streets in the walkable parts of the Twin Cities. That might explain why we have so few independent fast food places, but lots of independent “casual dining” locations?

Tl;dr; Olive Gardens are going out of business, but Marilyn Hagerty still thinks they’re pretty cool. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

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6 Responses to Chart of the Day: Metro Restaurant Trends, Chains versus Locals

  1. Bob Roscoe March 8, 2018 at 11:25 am #

    Olive Gardens out of business?


    And worse yet, no local movie theater has shown The Sound of Music for many years

  2. Nick Magrino
    Nick Magrino March 8, 2018 at 11:43 am #

    Olive Garden was a serious dinner option contender last night and only lost out due to having been there like a month ago when are we biking to Olive Garden again

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke March 8, 2018 at 12:39 pm #

      Let’s bike to a different olive garden every year

  3. Joe March 12, 2018 at 10:48 am #

    There are 8 cities on the list from New England+New York, and they are all in the top 11 for lowest % of chains. Kinda crazy how few chains exist out there (comparatively).

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