Restaurants in November had best performance in five months


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Restaurants in November turned in their best performance in five months and are looking forward to solid sales and a better economy in 2012, according to a major trade group.

A monthly performance index calculated by the National Restaurant Assn. hit 100.6 in November, up 0.6% from October and the highest level in nearly half a year. Any level above 100 signifies growth.


More customers visited eateries during the month, leading to the strongest net sales in more than four years at establishments open more than a year. The trade group’s current situation index rose 0.8% from October to 100.2 last month.

And restaurant operators are feeling more optimistic, pushing the expectations index up 0.4% to 100.9 in its third consecutive monthly gain. Nearly half said they plan to buy equipment, expand or remodel within the next six months.

But come Sunday, the industry will start facing some changes.

Health inspectors across California will begin to enforce a state law that requires about 900,000 restaurant workers that prepare, serve or store food to hold a food handler card. Employees must complete food safety training and pass a test to earn the card, according to the California Restaurant Assn.

Meanwhile, the National Restaurant Assn. is opposing a new program set to launch next month in which the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, will begin accepting applications for new Internet domain names.

The restaurant association claims that eateries will be forced to spend at least $185,000 each protecting their brands and trademarks.


“For our largest restaurant-member brands, the price tag is exorbitant,” said Scott DeFife, the association’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs, in a statement. “For the hundreds of thousands of smaller restaurant operators who depend on the Internet to communicate with guests, the costs and confusion could be insurmountable.”


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-- Tiffany Hsu