Skip to main content

Restaurant industry

The restaurant industry provides food and drink and includes:

  • Fast food establishments – such as McDonalds, Burger King and KFC, as well as traditional outlets such as fish and chips shops, sushi bars and sandwich bars
  • Cafes and coffee shops
  • Mainstream Restaurants – these are high street restaurants which tend to be mid-price and include many branded and themed chains such as Pizza Express, Garfunkel’s and Ask
  • Fine Dining – these tend to be more expensive restaurants that offer unique dishes and, sometimes, more experimental cuisine

The UK’s restaurant industry is diverse. Restaurants range from top-end fine dining establishments to quick service ‘takeaway’ outlets. Restaurants can be classified by type (fine dining, casual/branded dining or quick service) and by the type of cuisine they predominantly serve (e.g. Chinese or European).

UK high streets tend to be dominated by chain restaurants. Over recent years there has been a small increase in the number of chains and a decrease in the average size of a chain. Some of the newer chains, for example, Gourmet Burger Kitchens and the Clapham House Group are relatively small. The newer brands tend to be more focused.

The Asian and Oriental restaurant sub-industry is relatively large. The branded coffee shop sub-industry has grown substantially over the last few years. The largest 13 brands now operate approximately 2,500 outlets compared with 1,000 just 3 years ago.

Key facts:

  • There are 614,100 people working in the restaurant industry in around 72,500 enterprises.
  • 80% of all restaurant establishments employ between 1and 10 people, 18% employ between 11 and 49 people and the approximately 2% employ more than 50 people.
  • 47% of the workforce is female.
  • 73% of the workforce is white and 27% from Black Ethnic Minority groups.
  • 21% of the workforce is aged 16-19 years, 34% 20-29 years, 20% 30-39 years, 14% 40-49 years and 11% is 50 years and older.
  • 14% of the workforce has an NVQ Level 4 or above qualification.
  • The majority of the workforce has a NVQ Level 2 qualification (28%).
  • 13% of the workforce has no qualifications.
  • 53% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • Nearly half of all those working in the restaurant industry work in elementary occupations. Over a fifth of the workforce is managers and 17% work in skilled trades (the majority of which are chefs).

Source: People 1st LMI Report (March 2010) and Restaurants industry profile 2009