Though the weather outside was frequently frightful, the restaurant industry did not seem to suffer for it in January. The latest results from the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index showed a modest gain, allowing the industry to creep toward a full year of expansion.

Another month of growth
January's leap was minor but key, as December's overall strength level of 100.5 saw a fifth of a point added on for a new total of 100.7. This was the eleventh-straight month that the industry's RPI remained above 100, which implies positive growth.

Much of the industry growth was thanks to increased optimism from business leaders and restaurant owners.

"Restaurant operators are more optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead, which is also reflected in ramped up plans for capital spending," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the association.  "However, current situation indicators such as customer traffic were dampened in January, due in large part to adverse weather conditions."

The index comes with two halves, one about the current situation restaurants experience and the other concerning expectations for the next six months. The Current Situation Index was at 99.5 in January, largely influenced? by the nasty weather that affected much of the nation. Same-store sales gains only grew by 1 percent, while same-store losses fell by the same amount.

On the other hand, capital spending remained positive, as 57 percent of operators noted making new expenditures for equipment, expansion or remodeling. The Expectations Index was much more positive, with sales predictions through the summer rising 3 percent from February.

San Francisco leads country
In addition, FSR Magazine adds that San Francisco saw the most restaurant sales in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to 2012, out of major cities tracked. San Francisco's restaurants had reservations climb by 6.1 percent, while New York rose by 3.1 percent. Los Angeles, Denver and Philadelphia filled out the top five.

Conversely, many cities experienced sales dips, Boston lost about half of one percent of their sales figures, while Washington, D.C. fell by a fifth of a percent. The largest drop came from Chicago, which fell 3.3 percent during the quarter.

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