If the restaurant industry was in a deep recession in 2009, and returned to some semblance of stability in 2010, it may be fair to say 2011 was the beginning of coping with — and dare we say thriving under — the new normal.
Challenges were present, from escalated commodity costs to a still-struggling consumer, but victories were had. Industry sales growth returned and restaurant chains began to grow again. The NRN Restaurant Stock Index rose more than 20 percent. Culinary creativity dominated.
The best in the business were honored at NRN's Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators conference and NRN brought you industry-leading reports in our annual Top 100 census and innagural Consumer Picks survey.
As the final days of the year approach, take a look back at the best of 2011.
— Sarah E. Lockyer
Best and worst restaurant stock performers
Special Report: Top 100
• Top 5 fastest-growing chains — systemwide sales
• Top 5 fastest-growing chains — total units
Special Report: Consumer Picks
• Top 10 casual-dining chains
• Top 10 limited-service chains
2011 Award Winners
• Golden Chain
• Hot Concepts
• Operator of the Year
• The Norman J. Brinker Award
• Pioneer Award