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Tao Las Vegas Tops the List of Highest-Grossing Independent Restaurants in the U.S.

The clubstaurant brought in a whopping $42 million last year

Tao in Las Vegas.
Flickr/Concierge Auctions
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.

Clubstaurants, tourist traps, and celebrity chef-owned restaurants dominated the rankings for 2017’s highest-grossing independent restaurants in the U.S. The number one spot on this year’s rankings once again went to Tao in Las Vegas, which pulled in a cool $42.4 million over the course of 2016. The numbers show a slight drop in gross earnings from the 2015 report, where Tao reportedly earned $47.9 million.

The list compiled by Restaurant Business features 100 top-grossing independent restaurants, defined as ones with no more than five locations. However, per the publication’s methodology additional restaurants could qualify if they share the name of a chain but are owned separately. That could, for example, explain why no less than seven Tao Group properties are featured on the list.

It should be noted that the rankings are “based on gross 2016 food and beverage sales” gathered through surveys, meaning the numbers are self-reported. When data was not provided, Restaurant Business “estimated based on public information, similar concepts, and other factors.”

New York, was the most represented city on the list, with 30 top-grossing restaurants including spots like Carmine’s in Times Square and Smith & Wollensky. Critically panned-but-still-popular Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar sank from 39th place down to 42nd place in the 2017 rankings based on an estimated $17 million in sales. Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s 2016 newcomer La Sirena brought in an estimated $16.2 million, earning it the No. 52 slot.

Restaurants on the list continued to prove that tourism translates into dollars. The Boathouse Orlando, for example, opened midway through 2015 near Disney World and still managed to score the respectable 61st spot on last year’s list. Flash forward to the latest rankings and the resort restaurant has climbed to No. 6 with a reported $30.8 million in revenue for 2016.

Here’s a by the number snapshot of some of the major takeaways from this year’s list:

$1.8 billion: The cumulative food and beverage revenues raked in by the Top 100 independents ranked on this year’s list. Interestingly, it’s the same amount reported from 2015.

30: The number of New York restaurants on the Top 100 list, once-again making it the most-represented city.

7: The number of restaurants on the list operated by Tao Group.

14: The number of Last Vegas restaurants featured on the list, which dropped by one compared with 2015 data.

$90: The average check size at Tao Las Vegas, the highest grossing restaurant on the list.

$190: The largest average check of the list, at New York City’s ‘21’ Club (which ranked at No. 53 on the list).

$16: The average check size at Timberline Steaks & Grille in Denver, Colorado, the least expensive restaurant on the list.

1,072,293: The number of meals served at Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington D.C. during 2016. The restaurant served the most meals out any restaurant included on the list.

$178,924,391: The combined sales at the top five restaurants.

14 of the Biggest Independent U.S. Restaurants Based on Sales Call Las Vegas Home [ELV]
Top 100 Independents Rankings [Restaurant Business]
New York City’s Worst Restaurant Made an Estimated $17 Million This Year [E]
All By the Numbers Coverage [E]