A recent survey conducted through the National Restaurant Association’s Smartbrief online newsletter reported that a majority of restaurateurs think the economy had the greatest effect on their companies in 2008.

Economic woes trumped rising food costs (which garnered 35 percent of the votes), calorie legislation (3.7 percent), and food safety (3.7 percent). Despite the industry’s recent green mania, sustainability practices was at the bottom of the list for operators, with less than 3 percent reporting it had the greatest effect on business this year.

Looking forward into 2009, the online survey respondents predicted nutrition, food costs, and sustainability will all be big trends, followed by social-media marketing and culinary tourism.

Although the financial crisis is weighing heavy on all aspects of American life these days, restaurateurs believe 2009 will bring an improved economy. More than 52 percent of respondents said they were most looking forward to an economic upswing next year, while 18.9 percent said they were looking forward to expanding in the year to come.

–Blair Chancey

Finance, News