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Independent Restaurant Survival in a Mega-Chain World
by Ron Gorodesky and Ed McCarron

In the 1970's you could count the number of regional or national-chain, full-service restaurant operations in most any given town on one hand. The restaurant landscape was literally dominated by independent, primarily family-owned and operated restaurants and diners. Success seemed easier; independent restaurants created and managed the changes and the future of the restaurant industry.

The market has radically changed since the 1970's. Today, huge national mega-chains seem to control the very direction of the restaurant industry. An abstract from the Lebhar-Friedman Chain Sore guide reveals that only 12% of high-volume, full-service restaurants are independents. Multiple concepts, aggressive management hiring programs, extensive advertising campaign, mergers and resources to obtain the best estate all appear to give mega-chains the distinct advantage, now and well into the future.

So how do independent restaurants survive in the next millennium? Based on years of observing and tracking the restaurant industry and working with restaurateurs to develop highly successful operations, we believe there are five key points for continued success for independent restaurants.

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