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R&IEditorial Archives2005April 1 — Special Report

R&I Top 100 Independent Restaurants

Waitstaff is ready to serve at Portland City Grill.

That nothing succeeds like success may serve as partial explanation for the Top 100 Independent Restaurants’ record sales year in 2004. Reputations built over years with top-quality food and attentive service helped many of the largest restaurants survive, prosper and once again flourish. But customer loyalty is as difficult to maintain as it is to win. What newcomers to the list can learn from the many veterans is that the work of creating memorable dining experiences gets no easier at the top; it is an everyday responsibility.

The 100 independent (nonchain) operations that comprise R&I’s 22nd annual ranking of the 100 most-successful restaurants had aggregate sales of $1.28 billion in 2004, a remarkable 7.8% increase over the previous year. Such growth in a single year is especially impressive considering that between 1999 and 2004, Top 100 restaurant sales netted only a 2.3% increase (and showed negative growth in 2001 and 2002).

This year’s list includes a half-dozen restaurants making their first appearance among the Top 100. All these newcomers are in Las Vegas, which now boasts 15 members of the Top 100, pushing metropolitan Chicago into third place. New York City remains on top with 22 entries. While major markets dominate the list, 31 markets are represented.

Exceeding last year’s sales growth will be challenging, but none of the Top 100 restaurants doubts it can be done.

View the R&I Top 100 Independent Restaurants

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