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Study: San Francisco Restaurant Growth Is Outpacing New York

Plus, the number of French restaurants declined in both cities.

Fang via Eater SF
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

San Francisco's restaurant scene is outpacing New York — at least in terms of growth. That's according to a new study by conducted by international payment processing company First Data, which compares New York and San Francisco's restaurant scenes and delivers some intriguing insights about dining trends in both cities.

"San Francisco appears to have a more rapidly growing restaurant industry."

The SpendTrend Restaurant report analyzed client data from 2013 through 2015 for full-service, drinking, and fast food establishments and examined sales at individual businesses in both San Francisco and New York. Growth was defined as an increase in the number of restaurant outlets, as well as the number of transactions and ticket sizes. While both cities grew over the period, however the analysts report that with a higher average growth rate and overall sales in two of the three years, "San Francisco appears to have a more rapidly growing restaurant industry."

First Data also looked at how different categories of restaurants were trending in the rival scenes. Some of the findings were less surprising says Krish Mantripragada, senior vice president of Information and Analytics at First Data. For instance, "in both cities the American and Italian restaurants dominate." However, New York and San Francisco also saw negative growth in French restaurants in terms for the number of eateries and sales transactions.

Beyond these similarities, San Francisco's trends were markedly different than its East Coast rival. "San Francisco exhibited more diversity in the types of restaurants," Mantripragada says, adding that there was also a pronounced surge in Asian restaurants over the three year period. "In the case of Asian restaurants, we did see it surge in the case of location count ... also saw a double digit growth in customer visits." At the same time, overall ticket sizes at Asian restaurants dropped from an average of $35.80 in 2013 to $31.42 in 2015.

The Bay Area's Mexican restaurants also saw big growth in ticket sizes, although the overall number of restaurants remained steady. Meanwhile, cafe growth slowed from a peak of 19.2 percent in 2013 to 5.6 percent in 2015. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants saw a similar decline.

In contrast, New York saw a spike in the number of coffee shops and tea houses. "New York saw a double digit growth in the number of  outlets," as well as growth in transactions Matipragrada notes. The analysts also observed a slow, steady trend "towards restaurant options with smaller ticket sizes." Delis grew at a rate of 14.5 percent in 2015 over 8.6 percent three years ago.