( Logo courtesy National Restaurant Association )

The latest monthly survey of U.S. restaurant operators showed a slight decline in their business outlook compared to the previous study, but there was some positive news.

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index for April, the latest report available, showed a 1.8% decline from the previous month.

The index surveys foodservice operators’ opinions about the current operating environment and future expectations.

The report showed that the cost of vegetables was up 28% compared to a year ago, while the cost of citrus was down 23%.

Overall inflation was at 1.7%.

Other report highlights:

  • The industry added 25,000 jobs in April. Over the past year, restaurants added more than 318,000 jobs, with an employment growth rate of 2.7%, compared with the national employment growth rate of 1.8%.
  • Just over 50% of operators said they had made a capital expenditure, such as a restaurant remodeling or purchase of new equipment, over the past three months, and 55% said they expect to make one over the next six months.
  • Wholesale food inflation was .6% year-to-date. Among certain commodities, like beef, butter and bread, prices rose, while prices decreased on other items, such as eggs, citrus and pork.

The Restaurant Performance Index reflects the results of a survey of approximately 400 restaurateurs nationwide.