Among the highest-grossing independent restaurants in the U.S. are some of the expected names: José Andrés, Wolfgang Puck, David Burke. But there are also a slew of restaurants that aren’t likely to take top honors in a list of the world’s best. Like Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen, which brought in an estimated $17 million in 2015, despite the fact that it earned a hilarious (and zero-star) review from New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells. Turns out, cheesy decor, mediocre food, and a hell of a lot of tourists is a recipe for success.
The list of the 100 top-grossing independent restaurants (i.e. those with no more than five locations) comes courtesy Restaurant Business, a trade publication.
Tao Asian Bistro in Las Vegas — the highest-grossing on the list — has an average check size of $96, while Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth in Eastern Michigan has an average check of $15. But all have their commonalities: Namely, that they’re geared toward tourists and built to accommodate hundreds of diners.
Important to note, however, is the list’s methodology. According to Restaurant Business, “rankings are based on gross 2015 food and beverage sales,” and “information was gathered through surveys. When data wasn’t provided, sales were estimated based on public information, similar concepts and other factors." In other words, some of these numbers are self-reported and others are based on the publication’s own methodology, which isn’t disclosed.
Below, some of the most interesting numbers from the list:
$17 million: The amount Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in New York City reportedly brought in during 2015. It appears the bad press didn’t have too much of an effect on Fieri’s business.
1,172,413: The number of orders of Guy-talian Nachos that would total $17 million.
995,000: The plates of barbecue Virgil’s Real Barbecue in New York served in 2016.
950,000: The estimated number of meals served at Junior’s in Time Square in a single year.
30: The number of New York City restaurants on the Top 100 list, making it the most-represented city.
15: The number of Las Vegas restaurants on the list.
Three: The number of highest-grossing restaurants that sit within a few blocks of one another, in Orlando’s Downtown Disney: Fulton’s Crab House, Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, and The Boathouse.
$60 million: The amount the three Orlando restaurants (above) are estimated to have brought in, combined, in 2016.
$15: The average check at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, the least expensive restaurant on the list. According to its website, diners can get a platter of fried chicken or Bavarian sausages for well below $15.
Ten: Months of the year that Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach is open. The restaurant closes between August and October each year, but still brought in an estimated $36.8 million in 2016.
$170: The cost of a classic Florentine porterhouse at Carnevino, the most expensive option on the list. The average check at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Vegas steakhouse lands around $180.
$181 million: The amount of money the top ten highest-grossing restaurants made, combined, in 2016.
• Top 100 Independents [Restaurant Business Online]
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