- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 2004

Restaurateurs won’t go hungry next year; Americans are expected to spend more money eating out.

Restaurant industry sales in 2005 are expected to reach a record $476 billion in 900,000 locations, according to the National Restaurant Association. That marks a 4.9 percent increase in sales and the industry’s 14th consecutive year of growth.

Americans will spend nearly half of their food dollar at restaurants, the association said.

“The restaurant industry will serve as a driving force in our nation’s economy by providing jobs to 12.2 million employees and continue providing a social oasis and convenience to communities nationwide,” said Steven C. Anderson, the association’s president and chief executive officer.

The District-based trade group usually has been on track with 35 years of predictions. Sales in 2003 reached $421 billion — 1.2 percent below the group’s original forecast.

The final numbers for 2004 are not available.

The U.S. restaurant industry, which created about 270,000 jobs per year during the past 10 years, is forecast to add 1.8 million jobs in the next 10 years. On a typical day, the industry will post average sales of $1.3 billion.

The South Atlantic region, from Delaware to Florida, is expected to reach more than $67.4 billion in sales next year — a 5.6 percent increase.

“Several economic indicators such as improvements in regional economic conditions, gains in disposable income and general population growth pave the way for continued solid performance and growth,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the association’s research and information services division.

Pricey midnight countdown

Do you have $25,000 to spend? Well, for the price of a new car, you can ring in the new year at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Northwest.

The luxury hotel has put together the extravagant package that includes a two-night stay for two at its one-bedroom suite this Friday and Saturday.

New Year’s Eve festivities will include a six-course meal for as many as eight persons. Those not staying at the hotel will be chauffeured to and from the Hay-Adams that night. On New Year’s Day, the hotel will offer a champagne brunch, a makeover and a two-hour limousine tour of Washington at night.

As of last week, there were no takers.

Retail rummage

• Sephora, a women’s upscale makeup store chain, opened a 4,000-square-foot store in the Mall in Columbia last month. The Columbia store, which carries more than 260 brands, is the sixth location in the D.C. area.

• The Paper Source, which sells handmade paper, opened a two-level store earlier this month on M Street in Georgetown. A third floor eventually will be used for workshop classes.

In other news …

Washington D.C. Restaurant Week is returning Jan. 10-16. Participating local eateries will have three-course meals priced at $20.05 for lunch and $30.05 for dinner. In the past, the restaurant promotion has given some establishments a sales boost of 15 percent to 200 percent.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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